THE HYPOCRISY AND THE HORROR OF GARY BETTMAN AND THE NHL
“You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin’
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend…”
— -Carole King, 1971 (Tapestry)
Kyle Beach is still waiting, and has been, for almost a dozen years.
For a friend.
For someone to listen to him.
To commiserate with him.
And to help him.
He was a 20-year-old young man, away from home.
The eleventh overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, selected by the Chicago Blackhawks…
No support system.
And certainly, no ‘call out’ of his name, which was John Doe, until he went public as Kyle Beach.
It was left to Kyle Beach to endure alone behind the scenes, until ultimately, he took the bull by the horns in a seismographic upset of the NHL applecart.
Lessons to be learned:
No go for the status quo;
Old boys’ hush-hush fraternity hopefully, up in smoke;
Change must be effected, post-haste; and
A human being’s welfare and life are far more important than a Stanley Cup championship.
Beach, now 31, bravely and publicly made his claim that he was sexually assaulted by one-time Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich, last week on TSN “SportsCentre.”
This well-publicized admission was more than 11 years after he first informed Blackhawks management that Aldrich victimized him in the late stages of the club’s successful 2010 Cup run.
The Blackhawks egregiously and horrifically failed Beach then, and for the 11-plus years following, prior to his filing suit against the organization in May.
Based on Chicago’s internal investigation and report — which included 139 witnesses interviewed over four months — management wittingly dragged its feet with respect to dealing with Aldrich, in the thick of the race to capture Lord Stanley’s hardware.
Winning was more important.
To fan the flames of an already incendiary circumstance, when they decided to address the situation — three weeks later, with the Cup in tow — the Blackhawks allowed Aldrich to resign, rather than be investigated.
This ill-advised free pass allowed Aldrich to secure future employment with hockey teams at both Miami University (Ohio) and a high school in Houghton, Michigan.
He was quietly given the gate in Chicago, his alleged assault kept clandestine, and his name engraved on the Cup.
And so, what do you think happened next?
Don’t have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to figure that out.
More cases of alleged sexual abuse of other young hockey players, lodged against Aldrich — including a conviction.
There is so much wrongdoing here, you need a scorecard to keep track.
Both sides of the scorecard.
According to Beach in his TSN interview, GM Stan Bowman, his right-hand man Al MacIsaac, and five other high-ranking Blackhawks officials, including then-coach Joel Quenneville, were all made privy to his accusations at a May 23, 2010 meeting.
The meeting took place immediately following Chicago’s win over San Jose, which clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
Team president John McDonough — whom Bowman thought would “handle” the situation — was also present.
Beach told TSN reporter Rick Westhead that Quenneville advised Bowman — which the investigation made clear — that he felt the timing was inopportune to address Beach’s claims because, “it was hard for the team to get to where they were and they could not deal with the issue now.”
Not only was 20-year-old prospect Beach left with no apology, no explanation, no emotional support and no justice, he got his nose rubbed in it too, for ‘good measure.’
Jim “Doc” Gary, the club’s mental skills coach and team counselor — and one of the seven in the meeting — had the unmitigated gall to further humiliate Beach, by asserting that he, Beach was in part to blame.
Blaming the victim.
According to Beach, Gary said that “it was my fault because I put myself in that situation.”
“That situation,” alleged by Beach, was that Aldrich threatened to hit him with a baseball bat unless he submitted to the coach performing oral sex on him.
And this was somehow Beach’s fault?
Commissioner Gary Bettman’s response was highly questionable to say the least.
He met with Quenneville last Thursday (Oct. 28), the day after the coach was behind the bench for his then-undefeated Florida Panthers’ win over the Bruins.
Kevin Cheveldayoff, Bowman’s assistant GM in 2010, met with Bettman Friday.
By Thursday evening, Quenneville was allowed to resign.
Bettman determined that Cheveldayoff was the “lowest-ranking” team official in the room at that fateful May 2010 meeting, and therefore wielded no influence over how the Aldrich-Beach case played out.
He was allowed to remain in his current position as the Winnipeg Jets GM.
Bettman should have suspended both Quenneville and Cheveldayoff immediately earlier in the week, pending the completion of their hearings.
His unwillingness to do so represents yet another glaring misstep in the process; having Quenneville behind the bench Wednesday night was just plain wrong.
Beach scoffs at Quenneville’s position that he was out of the loop, and further expounded.
“No way he can deny knowing it,” he said.
“The playoffs and trying to win the Cup were more important than sexual assault.
I can’t believe that.
As a human, I cannot believe that and I cannot accept that.”
In another shocking revelation, Beach contends that the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) headed by executive director Don Fehr, effectively ignored his allegations against Aldrich.
“For him [Fehr] to turn his back on the players, when his one job is to protect the players at all costs, I don’t know how that can be your leader,” said Beach.
“He’s supposed to have the players’ backs, and they definitely didn’t have mine.”
Fehr was formerly the longtime head of baseball’s Player Association.
He said there was “no doubt” that the “system” failed to support Beach.
“And we are part of that system,” he added.
Beach stuck it right in Fehr’s grill and Fehr cites the culpability of “the system.”
Another example of zero leadership.
To be found anywhere.
Except with Beach.
The human condition should always trump money.
The scorecard shows a slew of resignations in the wake of this horrific story.
Skating with impunity.
That’s all that is.
Virtually meaningless to Kyle Beach.
The weakness and failings of so many people conspired to strand Kyle Beach on an island of one.
Those who could have made a difference — and did not — perpetuated his dehumanization and pain.
They all should have been there for him.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in November 2021.]