December 04, 2021
Chicago Blackhawks

Ex-Blackhawk Kyle Beach speaks about sexual assault, how claims were handled: ‘It’s destroyed me’

Kyle Beach, in a 25-minute bombshell interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead, came forward and revealed that he was the player sexually abused by Bradley Aldrich during the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run.

An emotional and tearful Beach broke down at times as he thanked Westhead for his reporting, former skills coach Paul Vincent for his perseverance and former players Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton for their honesty.

Beach also spoke about how he felt betrayed by coach Joel Quenneville, John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac and former skills coach James Gary.

“I buried this for 10 years, 11 years and it’s destroyed me from the inside out,” Beach said in the interview. “And I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone. That, if these things happen to you, you need to speak up because there (are) support systems.”

The interview came one day after the law firm Jenner & Block released the findings of their four-month investigation. Bowman and MacIsaac are both no longer part of the organization.

“Yesterday was a day of many emotions,” Beach said. “I cried. I smiled. I laughed. I cried some more. My girlfriend and I, we didn’t really know how to feel, we didn’t really know how to think. We just held each other and supported each other. ...

“It was no longer my word against everyone else’s. ... I really felt like there was a lot of lies told in the media, and it was very special and important to me to have that truth come out.”

Beach was drafted 11th overall by the Hawks in 2008 and spent the next two seasons playing in Canada’s Western Hockey League (juniors). At the end of the 2009-10 season, Beach was promoted to the Rockford IceHogs, the Hawks’ minor-league affiliate.

After the IceHogs’ season ended he was called up to the Hawks to be one of the Black Aces. Those players practice with the team but rarely see action in postseason games.

“It was an extremely special moment for me and my family, and kind of the next step of pursuing my NHL dream,” Beach said. “Unfortunately, a couple weeks after, those memories were tainted and my life was changed forever.”

On May 8 or 9, Aldrich sexually assaulted Beach. In the Jenner & Block report, Beach said the incident was “unequivocally” nonconsensual. Aldrich stated the encounter was “entirely consensual.”

“I was scared mostly,” Beach said when asked how he felt the following days. “I was fearful. I had had my career threatened. ...

“I didn’t know what to do. As a 20-year-old you can never imagine being put in this situation by somebody that’s supposed to be there to help you be a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career.”

Beach reported the incident to Vincent, who brought it to the attention of senior management. Beach also told his family shortly thereafter.

“My mom cried for days,” Beach said. “She felt responsible and felt like she should have protected me. We never spoke about it again until very recently.”

Some of Beach’s harshest comments were reserved for Quenneville, who helped guide the Hawks to Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Quenneville is now coaching the Florida Panthers and expects to speak with Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday.

One witness in the Jenner & Block report said McDonough and Quenneville “made comments about the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals and a desire to focus on the team and the playoffs.”

Beach was tense and emotional when addressing this subject.

“Trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault,” he said. “And I can’t believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that.

“I witnessed meetings right after I reported it to James Gary that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There is absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it, and there is absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that, to somebody that served his organization so well.”

According to former Hawks Boynton and Sopel, Beach was the subject of homophobic slurs during practices. Both players said everyone on the team knew about the incident with Aldrich.

Former Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith, now playing for Edmonton, denied that Wednesday.

“Maybe some guys did know, but not everybody knew,” Keith said. “Maybe that’s hard for people to understand, but that’s the truth. ... I didn’t know that was happening to that person.”

Said Beach: “I do believe that everybody in that locker room knew about it because the comments were made in the locker room, they were made on the ice, they were made around the arena -- (in the presence of) players, staff, media.”

Beach, now 31 and playing for the Miskolci DVTK Polar Bears in Germany, said that over the past years he relied on alcohol and drugs to help mask the pain. He is happy with the steps the Hawks took Tuesday, saying it is “a great step in the right direction.”

Westhead asked Beach what he believes the NHL should do to discipline Quenneville and/or Cheveldayoff, who is executive vice president and GM of the Winnipeg Jets. Cheveldayoff also was GM of the Chicago Wolves from 1997-2009.

“I hope ... Gary Bettman takes this seriously and he does his due diligence,” Beach said. “(I hope) he talks to not only them, but Bowman, McDonough and anybody else before he makes his decision. Because they already let me down. They wouldn’t investigate for me, so why would they now?”

The toughest part of the interview came when Beach was asked what his message would be to the former Michigan high school hockey player that Aldrich assaulted after leaving the Hawks.

Beach bowed his head, broke down and rubbed his face before saying: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do more when I could to make sure it didn’t happen to him, to protect him.

Beach found out about the Michigan player, 16 at the time, after Googling Aldrich’s name.

“Because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action, to make sure it wouldn’t happen to anybody else,” Beach continued. “So I’m sorry and I thank you.

“I hope at some point down the road -- if he’s open to it -- I would love to meet him because unfortunately we share something in common that’s going to be a part of us for the rest of our lives.”