Former Blackhawks forward Kyle Beach shows true courage
By Neil Becker
The Chicago Blackhawks reputation has suffered a significant blow.
This proud original six franchise, which has won six Stanley Cups, recently grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Back in June 2010, the Blackhawks celebrated a Stanley Cup victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, and at the time, all seemed great within the organization. As they celebrated with fans at the Stanley Cup parade or took the Stanley Cup on the talk show circuit, there was a horrific secret which wouldn’t be reveled until almost 11 years later.
According to a recent investigation into what happened, it was reveled that in early May, during that successful playoff run, an unnamed player came forward and alerted the higher ups about being sexually assaulted by the team’s former video coach Brad Aldrich.
This unnamed player, who recently and courageously identified himself as Kyle Beach, was a 20 year-old left winger who played for the Hawks AHL team before being called up during the playoff run to serve as one of the team’s Black Aces.
It was reveled that the sexual assault took place on May 8th or 9th and it wasn’t until weeks later, on May 23rd when after the Hawks made it to the finals, they decided to have a meeting about Aldrich.
During this meeting, which involved five people from Hawks upper management, it was written in the report that Hawks coach Joel Quenneville and team president John McDonough expressed the importance of focusing attention at the time on beating the Flyers and winning the Stanley Cup. No immediate action was taken and Aldrich wasn’t stopped from participating in Stanley Cup parades or other team celebrations. However after the season, he was given an option of either quitting or facing possible charges.
Beach, who was the Hawks 2008 first round draft choice, bravely after 11 years of keeping this a secret came forward and in various emotional interviews rocked the hockey world by detailing what happened and how management waited until addressing it while also letting him participate in the Stanley Cup activities.
In fighting back tears, Beach told TSN Sports Centre during an interview,
“To see him paraded around; lifting the cup at the parade… it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel that I wasn’t important.”
On May 13, 2021, Beach decided to file a lawsuit against the Hawks on how they mis- handled the ugly 2010 sexual assault. It wouldn’t be until Tuesday, October 26, 2021 that the 107 page investigation report supported what Beach was saying.
The fallout of the investigation was that Chicago Blackhawks GM/president of hockey operations Stan Bowman along with senior director of operations Al MacIsaac, who were with the team in 2010, have recently left the organization. Also Quenneville, who this year was coaching the Florida Panthers, has stepped down. Current Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff who at the time was an assistant GM with the Hawks in 2010, got to keep his job in Winnipeg.
Shortly after the facts became public, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz wrote a letter to Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald admitting that the team made an error by including his name on the list to be engraved on the Stanley Cup.
In the letter he wrote,
“I am humbly requesting that the Hockey Hall of Fame consider ‘x-ing’ out his name on the Stanley Cup. While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong.”
The Hawks were also fined two million dollars.
Three years after the incident, Aldrich was found guilty of having sex with a 16 year-old Michigan youth.
The Blackhawks made a lot of major life changing mistakes back in 2010, which as an organization, they will have to always live with.