Oliver: Blackhawks fans now must decide what to do in wake of assault cover-up

Revelations taint memories of 2010 Stanley Cup championship run

I don’t know what to think about the Chicago Blackhawks organization anymore. If what I’m about to write seems conflicted, well, know that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.

Everyone who knows me knows that I have loved the Blackhawks for a very long time. My social media is filled with references to “Chelsea Dagger.” I rarely miss a game on TV, and if I must, then I’m checking the score repeatedly.

I’ve always appreciated the way the organization appealed to families and seemed to really take its responsibility to the community seriously. Why, I’ve even touted that as something that I loved about my favorite hockey team.

Yet, now I’m faced with trying to make sense of the fact that during one of the happiest times of my life – the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run in 2010 – my team did the unthinkable.

Those who ran the team were made aware that one of the players – now identified as Kyle Beach – had been sexually assaulted by the video coach, Brad Aldrich.

Instead of doing the right thing, they waited. Why? Because they didn’t want anything to interfere with winning the Stanley Cup. A meeting of high-level team officials took place right around the time of the Western Conference Final series with the San Jose Sharks.

Instead of doing the right thing, they allowed Aldrich to remain a member of the team, celebrating with the players and other coaches and even having his name put on the Stanley Cup. (The team has since petitioned to have the name removed, but why was it ever on there in the first place?)

Instead of doing the right thing, they covered everything up.

Now, in 2021, there are consequences. Why? Because Aldrich was convicted of a further sex crime after he left the Blackhawks. And Beach has filed a negligence lawsuit against the team.

Findings from an independent report by the law firm Jenner & Block have led to the firing of general manager Stan Bowman, as well as senior vice president of operations Al MacIsaac.

The National Hockey League also fined the team $2 million for its mishandling of Beach’s allegations.

That beloved coach Joel Quenneville also was part of those who did nothing is particularly disheartening to many of us fans. He too is out as the coach of the Florida Panthers, where he landed after he left the Hawks.

While this goes a long way to holding those who played roles in this abomination responsible, is it enough? Beach said he also was subjected to homophobic bullying by other members of the team at the time, though he has not identified them.

What happened to Beach is absolutely unacceptable in any sport. None of this was his fault, and those who find themselves without jobs brought all of this on themselves.

Yet, Beach is the one who is going to be dealing with the lasting mental scars of what happened. One need only listen to the gymnasts who testified before Congress about their abuse at the hands of a team doctor with USA Gymnastics to know that.

Beach deserves more than platitudes about how brave he is, though he certainly is every bit of that. He finally is receiving the support he should have gotten years ago.

Now we will have to see whether the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL will implement real changes so that something like this will never happen again.

In the meantime, we fans are left to figure out how we feel about all of this.

My memories of the 2010 Stanley Cup run now will be tempered with the knowledge that the “team” abandoned one of its own.

This is not the organization I thought I knew.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.