In a lengthy, emotional interview aired on Canada’s TSN, the 31-year-old Beach said he was revealing his identity both as part of his “process of recovery” and because “details were pretty accurate in the report, and it’s been figured out.”
Of his reaction to the release of the 107-page report, as well as to expressions of regret made by general manager Stan Bowman and Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz, Beach said: “I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more. … I don’t think that I or we could have imagined what would have come out of yesterday’s press conference. And following it, just a great feeling of relief and vindication, and it was no longer my word against everybody else’s.”
In response to the report, which summarized the findings of a law firm’s investigation into the incident, Bowman stepped down as GM as well as a similar position with the U.S. Olympic hockey team. Al MacIsaac, the team’s senior vice president of hockey operations who, as with Bowman, was revealed in the report to have been made aware at the time of Beach’s allegation, also left the organization Tuesday.
The report, which lead investigator Reid Schar said Tuesday was drawn from interviews with 139 witnesses, concluded that while Beach and former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich differed on whether their May 2010 episode was consensual, the team was clearly at fault for violating its own sexual harassment policy by not “promptly and thoroughly” investigating the allegation. The incident occurred during the playoffs, and the report painted a picture of a senior leadership group more concerned with maintaining focus on the upcoming Stanley Cup finals — which the Blackhawks would win for their first title since 1961 — than in potentially stirring up turmoil by acting immediately.
Instead, then-team president John McDonough did not notify the team’s human resources director of the allegation until five days after the Blackhawks won the Cup and approximately three weeks after McDonough, Bowman, MacIsaac and others first learned of it. Shortly thereafter, Aldrich left the team rather than undergo an investigation, but not before he was able to raise the Cup in celebration. The terms of his resignation afforded him severance pay, a playoff bonus, a championship ring and the opportunity to have a day with the Stanley Cup, upon which his name was engraved.
Beach said Wednesday that seeing Aldrich revel with the team after its triumph made him “sick to my stomach.”
“I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command … and nothing happened,” Beach said. “It was like his life was the same as the day before. The same every day. And then when they won, to see him parading around, lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel that I wasn’t important.”
Pausing to control a wave of emotion, Beach added, “It made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong.”
The investigation was spurred by a pair of lawsuits filed against the Blackhawks earlier this year, including one by Beach in which he was identified as John Doe. The other was related to an arrest of Aldrich in 2013 for having sexual contact with a minor at a Michigan high school, and that lawsuit alleges Aldrich was able to land a position at that school in part because of positive job references from the Blackhawks.
Beach, a forward who was selected 11th by Chicago in the 2008 draft, was with the Blackhawks in 2010 as an organizational minor leaguer called up to help the team prepare for the playoffs. He never got any ice time in the NHL but was a member of Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, from 2008 to 2014. He has been playing in Europe for the past seven years, and he said Wednesday he is now with a team in Germany.
Following the 2010 incident, Beach said, he felt “scared, mostly.”
“I was fearful,” he continued. “I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark. … I didn’t know what to do as a 20-year-old. I would never dream, or you could never imagine, being put in this situation by somebody who’s supposed to be there to help you and to make you a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career. Just scared and alone, with no idea what to do.
“I buried this for 10 years, 11 years. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out,” he added. “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.”
The Blackhawks said in a statement Wednesday that they wanted to “acknowledge and commend Kyle Beach’s courage in coming forward.
“As an organization, the Chicago Blackhawks reiterate our deepest apologies to him for what he has gone through and for the organization’s failure to promptly respond when he bravely brought this matter to light in 2010,” the team said. “It was inexcusable for the then-executives of the Blackhawks organization to delay taking action regarding the reported sexual misconduct. No playoff game or championship is more important than protecting our players and staff from predatory behavior. The Blackhawks have implemented numerous changes and improvements within the organization, including hiring a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships while adhering to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards.”
Blackhawks players were briefed Wednesday on the departure of Bowman and the contents of the report. Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy said (via ESPN) that while it was “a very sad day to see that release and to hear those stories,” he could vouch for a team culture he said had changed for the better.
“Your heart goes out to the victims,” said Murphy, a nine-year NHL veteran who has been with the Blackhawks in 2017. “As present players, we’re very lucky with the state of the organization the last few years. The core values of this organization and this culture are first class. It’s very tragic to see that happened in the past.”
Beach told TSN that “the step the Blackhawks took yesterday is a great step in the right direction.”
“They accepted accountability and they took actions necessary,” he said, “albeit too late.”