The Chicago Blackhawks and a former player who said he was sexually abused by a former assistant coach reached a confidential settlement to a lawsuit filed against the team earlier this year, both sides announced Wednesday night.
The agreement comes at the end of a tumultuous year that wound up costing a pair of Blackhawks executives their jobs and resulted in the ouster of former Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks when the alleged sexual misconduct occurred more than a decade ago.
The former player who sued the team was Kyle Beach, whose tearful televised account of his interactions with former assistant Blackhawks coach Brad Aldrich fueled a firestorm of criticism and deeply gouged the team’s standing with fans.
Team owner Rocky Wirtz, team CEO Danny Wirtz and Beach’s lawyer, Susan Loggans issued a joint statement announcing the settlement, though no details were offered on its size or scope.
“The Blackhawks hope that this resolution will bring some measure of peace and closure for Mr. Beach. As for the Blackhawks organization, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that, going forward, this team will be a beacon for professionalism, respect and integrity in our community,” the statement read.
“We remain grateful for the trust and support of the Blackhawks community, and we promise to continue working every day to earn and maintain that trust.”
The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million in October after a team-commissioned report by the Chicago law firm, Jenner & Block, found that the team did not act promptly on Beach’s 2010 complaint of sexual misconduct against Aldrich.
The Jenner report outlined how executives now no longer with the team worried how it might affect the Blackhawks’ pursuit that year of the Stanley Cup, which the team eventually won, marking the first championship for the Blackhawks in 49 years.
Beach was a 20-year-old who had recently been called up to the Blackhawks as a back-up. In early May of 2010, the alleged sexual encounter occurred at Aldrich’s apartment.
Beach accused Aldrich of “forcibly touching” him, masturbating in front of him without consent and ejaculating on him while threatening his playing career if he told anyone in management about the encounter.
Aldrich told Jenner’s investigators that the act was consensual, but Beach insisted it wasn’t and provided graphic details about the non-consensual interaction.
After the Stanley Cup win, the team quietly parted ways with Aldrich, who went on to sexually abuse a 17-year-old male high school hocky player in Houghton, Mich., in 2013, resulting in his guilty plea to a charge of criminal sexual conduct. The conviction landed Aldrich on Michigan’s sex offender registry.
Wednesday’s settlement between the Blackhawks and Beach made no mention of a pending lawsuit against the team by that former high school player, who also is represented by Loggans.
Dave McKinney covers Illinois politics and government and with WBEZ editor Tony Arnold first broke the Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal. Cheryl Raye-Stout covers sports for WBEZ. Follow them on Twitter @davemckinney, @tonyarnold and @Crayestout.