“John Doe” has come forward.
Kyle Beach revealed his identity Wednesday on TSN in Canada as the former Chicago Blackhawks player former video coordinator Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.
Beach, 20 years old at the time of the incident, was part of the Blackhawks’ group of prospects who spent that postseason with the team in case of an injury or suspension. The 2008 11th overall pick never appeared in an NHL game.
Beach had previously been anonymous, but his identity became apparent thanks to several details in the report released Tuesday by the law firm conducting the investigation for the Blackhawks, Jenner & Block.
“Just a great feeling of relief, vindication,” said Beach, who has played overseas since 2015. “It was no longer my word against everybody else’s.”
The investigation followed a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Beach, which led to Stan Bowman stepping aside as the Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey operations Tuesday. Bowman also relinquished his duties as Team USA men’s ice hockey GM for the Beijing Olympics. Al MacIsaac, senior vice president of hockey operations, also left the team.
The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.” CEO Danny Wirtz addressed the team Wednesday.
Former coach Joel Quenneville (now coaching the Florida Panthers) and ex-assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff (now general manager of the Winnipeg Jets) were apparently aware of Beach’s claim but also did not adequately respond. Quenneville coached the Panthers’ game Wednesday ahead of his meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman.
“We would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach’s courage in coming forward,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. The organization extended its “deepest apologies” to him for not properly responding after he brought the charges to light 11 years ago.
“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 2010 Stanley Cup run was supposed to be a moment of pride for the Vancouver, Canada, native. Instead, Beach’s memories of that time are forever tainted, he said.
“To be honest, I was scared, mostly. I was fearful. I had had my career threatened.”
Blackhawks’ brass, including former president John McDonough and mental skills coach Jim “Doc” Gary, were apparently all aware of the allegations, the report determined. The accounts of the conversations about the alleged incident between Aldrich and Beach differed, according to the report. Aldrich has since been convicted of assaulting a high school student in Michigan.
“You can never imagine being put in a situation by somebody who is supposed to be there to help you and to make you a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career,” Beach said.
The first person he told was Paul Vincent, a former Chicago skills coach who Beach praised for believing and fighting for him. He informed his family that summer. His mother cried for days. They didn’t speak about it again until recently.
“I never brought it up and they respected my privacy,” Beach said. “They would ask if I was OK and let me talk about what I wanted to talk about. I did what I thought I had to do to survive, to continue chasing my dream. And that was not think about it, not talk about it, to ignore it. That’s all I could do, because I was threatened and my career was on the line.”
Seeing Aldrich celebrate the Stanley Cup with the team throughout June 2010 made him feel “sick to (his) stomach.” Aldrich signed a separation agreement shortly after the Blackhawks won their first of three Stanley Cups during Bowman’s tenure.
“It made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel like I wasn’t important. It made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong. That’s also what Doc Gary told me. Was that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation.”
Gary, a licensed medical professional, no longer works in the NHL. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has opened an investigation into Gary, according to TSN.
Beach said he suppressed his memories and developed addictions as his hockey career in North America faltered.
“I relied on alcohol. I relied on drugs,” he said. “I’m just so relieved with the news that came out yesterday that I’ve been vindicated.”
He also believes every player in the Blackhawks locker room that postseason knew about the incident. That includes current players and organization stalwarts Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
“I am a survivor. I know I’m not alone, male or female,” Beach said. “And I buried this for 10 years, 11 years. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out. And I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you are not alone. You need to speak up. Because there (are) support systems.”
Contributing: Associated Press
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.