Ex-Blackhawks player Kyle Beach speaks out about being ‘John Doe’ in the team’s sexual assault scandal

Blackhawks Kyle Beach
Kyle Beach, who played on the Chicago Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team, spoke out for the first time Wednesday and identified himself as the player who brought sexual assault allegations against a former Hawks coach. Associated Press / Associated Press
Blackhawks Kyle Beach
Kyle Beach, who played on the Chicago Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team, spoke out for the first time Wednesday and identified himself as the player who brought sexual assault allegations against a former Hawks coach. Associated Press / Associated Press

Ex-Blackhawks player Kyle Beach speaks out about being ‘John Doe’ in the team’s sexual assault scandal

The former Chicago Blackhawks player whose bombshell lawsuit against the team alleging managers did nothing in response to complaints that he’d been sexually assaulted by an assistant coach in 2010 has come forward.

Kyle Beach revealed himself to be the anonymous player known in court filings as John Doe during an interview aired Wednesday with the Canadian sports broadcasting network, TSN. Beach was a first-round Blackhawks draft pick called up from the minor league to play for the team during its Stanley Cup-winning season.

His revelation comes a day after the Blackhawks made public the results of an internal investigation and announced that several executives — including General Manager Stan Bowman — were out for mishandling the 2010 incident. The NHL fined the team $2 million, which is one of the highest fines in league history.

“I felt just a great feeling of relief, vindication and it was no longer my word against everyone else’s,” Beach said after seeing the results of the Blackhawks’ internal investigation and the ouster of Bowman. “It was very special and important to me to have that truth come out yesterday.”

Beach’s association with the Blackhawks began in 2008, when the team chose him as the No. 11 pick in that year’s NHL draft. At the time, an ESPN columnist described him as “unwaveringly polite and thoughtful,” yet having an “ability to annoy and agitate opposing players and coaches.” But Beach never got to put those skills to the test, never playing a full season with the team.

Now a hockey player in Germany, Beach spoke with anguish about the team’s mishandling of his sexual assault allegation against ex-video coach Brad Aldrich, including during the Stanley Cup run in 2010. In court filings, Beach accused Aldrich of “forcibly touching” him, masturbating in front of him without Beach’s consent and ejaculating on him. Afterward, Beach’s lawsuit contends, Aldrich sent “harassing texts.”

Aldrich has denied the allegations and claimed the sexual encounter was consensual but did not respond to WBEZ’s requests for comment.

Beach said he alerted the team’s former mental skills coach, James Gary, about Aldrich’s misconduct. From there, the team’s front office knew about Beach’s complaint for nearly three weeks without acting on it internally to avoid a distraction during the playoffs, the team’s internal investigation found.

During that time and right after the Stanley Cup victory, the team afforded special privileges to Aldrich, including getting a championship ring, participating in a city parade honoring the championship and allowing his name to be inscribed on the cup.

“I think the only way I can describe it is that I felt sick,” Beach said in Wednesday’s interview. “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 Doc Gary and nothing happened. It was like his 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, at 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 like I wasn’t important and it made me feel like he was in the right and I was in the wrong,” Beach continued.

“And that’s also what Doc Gary told me — was that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation. And the combination of these and him being paraded around, them letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened — there’s no words to describe it,” the former Blackhawks player said.

Meanwhile, the team quickly responded Wednesday night with an empathetic statement following Beach’s broadcast interview – a stark contrast to the tone the Blackhawks took in May, when a team spokesman expressed confidence it would be absolved of any claims of wrongdoing. The Blackhawks also moved previously to dismiss Beach’s lawsuit against the team.

“We would like to acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach’s courage in coming forward,” the team said. “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 statement continued.

Beach praised the Blackhawks’ release of the team-commissioned internal investigation by the Chicago law firm, Jenner & Block. It outlined in detail the managerial missteps in keeping Beach’s allegation against Aldrich quiet during the playoffs.

“The step the Blackhawks took yesterday is a great step in the right direction. They accepted accountability, and they took actions necessary — albeit too late,” Beach said.

Meanwhile, the NHL said in a statement that league Commissioner Gary Bettman intends to meet with former Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville, who currently coaches the Florida Panthers, and former Blackhawks assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is now general manager of the Winnipeg Jets. Quenneville told reporters that he’s meeting with Bettman on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Quenneville released a statement claiming he first learned of Beach’s allegations through the media this year. But the team’s internal investigation revealed he and others recalled a 2010 meeting to discuss the incident in which Quenneville appeared agitated and angry about the allegation and he didn’t want it to upset the team’s chemistry going into the Stanley Cup finals.

Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney cover Illinois politics and government for WBEZ. Follow them on Twitter @tonyjarnold and @davemckinney.