Kyle Beach revealed as Chicago NHL player who was allegedly abused by Blackhawks video co-ordinator
A former pro hockey player has been left inconsolable during an emotional and powerful interview where he revealed he was a victim of sexual assault while playing in the NHL.
Former Chicago player Kyle Beach, now plying his trade in the German third division, spoke for 25 minutes, saying he is still working through the healing process after suppressing the memory of his assault in the years after his initial report of former Blackhawks’ video co-ordinator Brad Aldrich.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment of the TSN interview was Beach’s tearful apology to a 16-year-old high school student, who suffered abuse at the hands of Aldrich in the years after he left the Blackhawks.
Aldrich was a volunteer assistant coach for the Houghton (Michigan) High School boy’s hockey team in 2013 when the abused happened — he pleaded guilty to assaulting the high schooler, serving nine months in prison.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do more, when I could, to make sure it didn’t happen to him. To protect him,” Beach said.
“But I also wanted to say thank you to him. Because when I decided, after a teammate asked me about it when I was playing overseas, and I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name and that’s when I found out about the Michigan individual, the Michigan team.
“And because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action, to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else.
“So, I’m sorry, and I thank you.
“And I hope, at some point down the road, if he’s open to it, I would love to meet him.
Because, unfortunately, we share something in common – it’s going to be a part of us for the rest of our lives.”
Wednesday, the NHL released a commissioned report into the incident and two executives left the franchise — with more fallout still possible.
“Yesterday was a day of many emotions,” Beach said.
“I cried. I smiled. I laughed, I cried some more. And my girlfriend and I, we didn’t really know how to feel. We didn’t really know how to think. We just held each other and supported each other. …
“I don’t think we could have ever imagined what was gonna come out of yesterday’s press conference and following it, just a great feeling of relief, vindication and it was no longer my word against everybody else’s.”
The Blackhawks released a statement commending Beach for coming forward and apologising for their organisational failure.
“It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organisation to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct,” the statement read.
“No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behaviour.”
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac both left the organisation on Tuesday after the Jenner & Block report was released.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said he plans to meet with Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to discuss their roles — both were allegedly involved in meetings about what to do after Beach reported the incident to skills coach Paul Vincent during the 2010 playoffs, with Quenneville saying he wanted to focus on winning the Stanley Cup — but neither has been put on leave.
Beach, who said in the Jenner & Block report that Aldrich threatened his career after sexually assaulting him, described the days after the incident as “alone” and “dark.”
As part of the separation agreement reached after the Blackhawks had won the title, Aldrich was allowed to spend a day with the Stanley Cup. He also attended the Blackhawks’ championship parade.
“I felt sick to my stomach. I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command by [skills coach James] Gary and nothing happened,” Beach said. “It was like [Aldrich’s] life was the same as it was the day before. The same every day.
“And then when they won, to see him paraded around, lifting the Cup at the parade, the team pictures, at the celebrations, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel that I wasn’t important. And it made me feel like, that he was in the right and I was wrong.”
Beach said he first told Vincent, who he credited as an “amazing man”, but word got around the locker room quickly. When asked about the assertion by multiple former players that everyone in the locker room knew about the incident, Beach said he believed that to be true, “100 per cent.”
Quenneville, who was the Blackhawks coach at the time of the assault, coached the Panthers on Wednesday night against the Bruins.
“Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying — and this is not a quote, this is my words — but saying that the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault,” Beach said.
“And I can’t believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that. … I witnessed meetings right after I reported it to James Gary that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office.
“There is absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it and there is absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that to somebody that served his organisation and his team so well.”
Beach, who broke down crying when asked about Aldrich’s later assault of a player on a high school team in Houghton, Michigan, said that despite not discussing the incident, it had a huge impact on him.
“I did stupid things, I acted out, I snapped,” he said.
“I did things that I never could imagine doing. I relied on alcohol. I relied on drugs. And I’m just so relieved with the news that came out yesterday that I’ve been vindicated and I can now truly begin the healing process.”
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