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A product of Kelowna Minor Hockey and a standout for multiple WHL teams, Kyle Beach was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
Beach never played an regular season NHL game, but spent multiple years with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford before leaving to continue his hockey career in Europe.
In 2010, Chicago won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years and it was the start of a dynasty-like run for the core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and company.
However, the championship run was marred by a sexual assault scandal that stayed in the dark throughout a decade where the Blackhawks won two more Stanley Cups.
On May 13, 2021, it started to come to light when an unnamed former player accused Brad Aldrich, the team’s video coach at the time, of sexually assaulting him and the team of covering it up.
An investigation was launched and on Tuesday the findings were released through a 107-page report from the law firm Jenner & Block.
It led to longtime GM Stan Bowman “stepping aside” from his role and the franchise being fined $2,000,000, with more repercussions certainly on the way.
The accuser was labelled as John Doe in the report, but less than 24 hours after its release, Beach came forward and identified himself as the victim in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead.
“I’ve suppressed this memory and buried this memory to chase my dreams and pursue the career that I loved and the game that I love of hockey,” Beach told Westhead.
The Kelowna native said the healing process is just beginning and Tuesday was a big step in the process, but he’s bottled it up for so long.
“Now that I’m beginning to heal, I begin to look back and it definitely had impacts on my life,” said Beach.
“I did stupid things, I acted out, I snapped…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 truly begin the healing process.”
Westhead asked Beach about seeing Aldrich remain with the team after he reported the incident to management and going on to hoist the Stanley Cup just weeks later.
Beach said the only way to describe it is that it made him feel sick to his stomach.
“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. It was like his life was the same as the day before. Same every day,” Beach explained.
“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. 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.”
Aldrich continued on with his life and career, but in 2019 he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old high school hockey player in March 2013.
He’s now a registered sex offender in Michigan.
Once the TSN interview with Beach and Westhead aired at 3 pm PT today, the Chicago Blackhawks issued a team statement commending Beach’s “courage” in coming forward.
“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 read.
“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 behaviour.”
The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that the Blackhawks will begin settlement talks with Beach’s lawyer next week.
To watch the entire 25-minute interview with Beach and Westhead, click this link.
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