From the Basement | Sexual abuse scandal rocks hockey world

Zachary Brandwein, Staff Reporter

nhl abuse
Brad Aldrich’s name was scratched out from the Stanley Cup, a permanent scar in the 2010 Blackhawks championship run (Jada Roth)

Content Warning: The following article contains subject matter pertaining to sexual violence.

On June 9, 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, capturing their first championship in 47 years. Normally, this would be cause for celebration, but for one player, it was in the middle of the worst time of his life. 

Kyle Beach, a former first-round pick by the Blackhawks, was called up for the 2010 playoffs as a black ace, which is a player that is called up from the minor leagues to help in practice but does not typically play. In early May 2010, then-Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich coerced Beach into a nonconsensual sexual encounter. Aldrich told Beach to act like he enjoyed it, otherwise he would never set foot in the NHL again

A few days later, Beach confided in then-skills coach Paul Vincent, who then brought the issue to upper management. Beach recalls feeling invisible due to the lack of action in the organization. 

Eventually, on May 23, 2010, the upper management of the Blackhawks had a meeting to discuss what to do about the assault. Present at this meeting was Senior Director of Hockey Administration Al MacIssac, President John McDonough, Executive Vice president Jay Blunk, general manager Stan Bowman, assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldeyoff, mental skills coach Jim Gary and head coach Joel Quenneville. 

McDonough and Quenneville both brushed it aside, as the team did not need any negative publicity or distractions during their playoff run. The outcome of the meeting was that the issue would be taken care of, but no immediate action was taken.

On June 10, 2010, one day after winning the Stanley Cup, Aldrich made sexual advances towards a 22-year-old intern. A few days later, McDonough finally told the head of human resources what had happened a month prior. The leader gave Aldrich an ultimatum: he could either resign or an investigation would be launched to see what actually happened. 

Aldrich chose to resign, but, along with that resignation, the Blackhawks paid him his severance, his playoff bonus and gave him his championship ring. Aldrich even took part in several hockey traditions, including getting his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, spending a full day with the cup and attending the banner-raising ceremony the following season. 

The Blackhawks failure to investigate Aldrich has affected many families. After his tenure with the Blackhawks, he was hired as the director of hockey operations for Miami University in Ohio in 2012. After inviting two players over to his house, he assaulted them as well. He resigned from that job later in the year. In March 2013, Aldrich was hired as a coach for a high school hockey team in Houghton, Michigan. It was there that he assaulted one of his teenage players at a post-game party, which he admitted to the police shortly after. 

In September 2013, the Houghton police contacted the Blackhawks director of human resources for info on Aldrich. The director refused to give anything other than Aldrich’s resignation without a subpoena. In February 2014, Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in jail for criminal sexual conduct involving a student. 

In May 2021, Beach, referred to as John Doe, filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks for their incompetence. The Blackhawks began a private investigation in June, and the findings were published in a 107 page report in October. The report highlights many things, including the fact that the Blackhawks violated their own policy by waiting a few weeks before taking action. 

As a result of the investigation, Bowman stepped down from his role as general manager of the Blackhawks. MacIssac stepped down from his role as well. Bowman issued a statement, but the subject was thanking the Blackhawks for the opportunity to be general manager. No apology was issued. 

The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2,000,000, which may seem like a lot. However, their revenue from the 2019-20 season was estimated at $178,000,000, so the fine was about 1.12% of their revenue. For reference, the NHL fined the New Jersey Devils $3,000,000, as well as taking away a first and third-round pick for offering a player an illegal contract. The Arizona Coyotes were fined a first-round draft pick for violating the combine testing policy. 

Quenneville, who was the coach of the Florida Panthers until recently, was also forced to resign, but not before coaching one final game hours after the scandal broke. Quenneville also stated that the first time he heard about the allegations was when the lawsuit was filed, but the report proved that statement to be false. 

Cheveldayoff, now general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, faces no additional punishment from the NHL, as he also denies any prior knowledge of the incident.

As a result of the investigation, the Hockey Hall of Fame crossed out Aldrich’s name on the Stanley Cup per the request of the Blackhawks organization

The NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman in particular were heavily criticised for their role in the scandal. Many feel that the punishment the Blackhawks received was not severe enough and wonder why Jets General Manager Cheveldayoff was not punished at all. 

The league also received widespread criticism for allowing Quenneville to coach one final game after the scandal broke. Bettman did call Beach to apologize for what happened and to offer resources to him and his family.

However, at the heart of all this is still Beach. He now plays in the third tier of German hockey, a long way from the bright NHL lights. His interview where he exposes the scandal is as heart-wrenching as it is brave. His legacy certainly exposes both the Blackhawks and the NHL and illustrates how they need to improve to prevent anything like this from happening again.

Resources are available for Tulane students who are victims of sexual violence. Contact Sexual Assault Peer Hotline and Education‘s 24/7 Peer Run Hotline at 504-654-9543 if you need help. 

Tulane Emergency Medical Services can be reached at 504-865-5911. TEMS is a free, student-run service. In addition, Tulane University Police Department’s non-emergency Uptown number is 504-865-5381.

You can also reach out to Case Management and Victim Support Services at 504-314-2160 and they can offer support and help you file a report.

RAINN: Rape Abuse + Incest National Network provides resources that are LGBTQ+ inclusive and can be reached at 800-656-4673.

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