Kyle Beach announced he is "John Doe" in the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual assault case on Wednesday. The Blackhawks' first-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft (11th overall), Beach filed a lawsuit against the organization for its response -- or lack thereof -- to his sexual abuse allegations.
The Blackhawks found Beach brought sexual assault and harassment allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 playoffs. Upon hearing the allegations, Chicago's top coaches and management met to discuss their path forward. The group decided to focus on the Stanley Cup it eventually won, but failed to address Beach's claims again.
Tuesday's report brought severe consequences to those involved, as Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac both stepped down -- moves Beach calls a "great step in the right direction." Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, both of whom were with the Blackhawks during the 2009-10 season, will meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss their involvement.
"[Tuesday,] it was a day of many emotions," Beach told TSN on Wednesday. "I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more. My girlfriend and I, we didn't really know how to feel, we didn't really know how to think."
Beach first told former Blackhawks skill coach Paul Vincent about his sexual assault during the team's playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. Vincent then reported Beach's claims to the Blackhawks' front office, but Aldrich remained with the team through its Stanley Cup run before his eventual resignation.
Aldrich even had a day with the Stanley Cup before leaving the organization.
"I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command by Doc [James] Gary and nothing happened," said Beach, 31, who's currently playing in Germany. "It was like his life was the same as the day before. Same every day. And then when they won, to see him paraded around lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing.
"It made me feel like I didn't exist," he added. "It made me feel like, that I wasn't important and ... it made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong. And that's also what Doc Gary told me, that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation. And the combination of these and him being paraded around, then letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened."
Beach said he "buried" the secret of his sexual assault claims for 11 years, but it was far from a secret within the Blackhawks' organization. The Canadian said word of his allegations spread "pretty quick," and the lack of punishment Aldrich faced only made him feel worse about his standing with the team and his career.
"To be honest, I was scared mostly," Beach said. "I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark. It's tough to recall these moments. Mostly, I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody to turn to for help ... as a 20-year-old, you could never imagine being put in this situation by somebody who is supposed to be there to help you and make you a better hockey player, and person, and help you build your career."
Chicago released a statement just after Beach's interview, seemingly distancing itself from the individuals involved. The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for their "inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response" to Beach's allegations.
With the departures of Bowman and MacIsaac, the Blackhawks have no front-office members left from their 2010 Stanley Cup-winning squad.
A statement from the Chicago Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/x1XbMXDiyA— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 27, 2021
"First, we would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach's courage in coming forward," the Blackhawks wrote. "As an organization, the Chicago Blackhawks reiterate our deepest apologies to him for what he has gone through and for the organization's failure to promptly respond when he bravely brought this matter to light in 2010. It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct. No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behavior. The Blackhawks have implemented numerous changes and improvements within the organization, including hiring a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships while adhering to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards."
The Blackhawks have struggled on and off the ice this season, as they've yet to win a game and sit at 0-5-1.