CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of a damning report on the Blackhawks’ handling of former player Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations against former coach Brad Aldrich in 2010, the team is asking the Hockey Hall of Fame to remove Aldrich’s name from the Stanley Cup.
“Aldrich’s involvement with the team during the 2010 season has cast a pall on the players’ extraordinary work that year. The names of some of hockey’s most talented athletes appear on the Stanley Cup. But so does the name ‘Brad Aldrich’ whose role as video coach made him eligible for engraving. His conduct disqualified him, however, and it was a mistake to submit his name. We are sorry we allowed it to happen,” Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz wrote in a letter to the Hockey Hall of Fame. “I am humbly requesting that the Hockey Hall of fame consider ‘x-ing’ out his name on the Stanley Cup. While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong.”
The request to remove Aldrich’s name from the Stanley Cup comes just hours after former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers.
Quenneville denied any knowledge of the allegations against Aldrich until earlier this year, when Beach sued the Blackhawks for negligence, but agreed to step down Thursday after a meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Quenneville himself released this statement:
“With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers.
“I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, has suffered.
“My former team the Blackhawks failed Kyle and I own my share of that.
“I want to reflect on how all of this happened and take the time to educate myself on ensuring hockey spaces are safe for everyone.”
Quenneville’s meeting with Bettman came a day after Beach revealed he is the “John Doe” player accusing former Blackhawks video coach of sexual assault, and suing the team for negligence over their handling of his claims.
On Tuesday, Blackhawks president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman resigned after an independent investigation determined he and other team executives failed to promptly investigate Beach’s case. Bowman on Tuesday also resigned as the general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Also out over the Blackhawks’ handling of the scandal is senior vice president Al MacIsaac.
Quenneville was brought in to meet with Bettman Thursday about his role in what happened, and what didn’t happen, after Beach told Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent that Aldrich had assaulted him.
Beach has credited Vincent with trying to do everything he could when the allegations of abuse first surfaced, but has said the rest of the organization failed to properly investigate.
As the Blackhawks organization tries to deal with the fallout from that independent investigator’s report, which determined management failed to promptly investigate Beach’s claims, Beach spoke up again Thursday on CBS Mornings.
Beach said he’s coming forward now to take back the years he lost after the assault and the lack of action that followed.
“It’s important to come forward to share my story, because this is so much bigger than Kyle Beach. Yes, I’m a survivor, but there’s millions of people in this world that have been affected by sexual abuse or sexual assault,” he said. “And I’m speaking out now to hopefully give them a voice, to give them the power to come forward, so that we can make a change in this world, and hopefully make this a safer space in sports; but also in work, and life, and everyday.”
Beach was the Blackhawks’ first round draft pick in 2008, and was called up as a “Black Ace” during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup championship run, as a potential fill-in for a regular team member if needed during the playoffs.
He has accused Aldrich of threatening him with a baseball bat before sexually assaulting him in May 2010, saying Beach would never play in the NHL if anyone found out.
An independent investigation by the law firm Jenner & Block confirmed that, even though Beach reported the assault to Blackhawks leaders, there was never an investigation.
Not only was Aldrich allowed to continue to work and travel with the team but was allowed to participate in Stanley Cup championship celebrations in Beach’s presence, and also sexually assaulted a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern, according to the investigator’s report.
Years later, he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old player while coaching at a Michigan high school.
Beach said learning of that assault on a teenager “makes me sick to my stomach.”
“My message to him is that I’m sorry, because I feel like maybe I could have done more then to protect him. At the same time, I want to thank him, because when I found out about his story when I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name after a teammate had asked me about the incident, I found out about his story, and it gave me the courage and the strength and the power to ask for help,” Beach said.
Beach said he also hopes his case sends a message to other victims of sexual assault “that you’re not alone.”