NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr recommended that the union hire an outside law firm for an independent review on its handling of Kyle Beach’s allegations of sexual assault against Chicago Blackhawks then-video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.
Fehr made the suggestion to the roughly 80 players on an NHLPA conference call Monday. The NHLPA executive board, which consists of one representative from every team, will vote on whether to conduct a review. That vote is expected on Monday night or Tuesday morning.
The call lasted more than two hours, and there was no discussion about Fehr’s removal as executive director, sources told ESPN.
“Guys went on the call and just wanted more information,” one player on the call told ESPN. “We need to see the full picture before we can decide the next steps.”
The call was arranged Monday, as players were seeking answers from the NHLPA on its role and how the union could have better supported Beach — the former Blackhawks player who, in 2010, reported that he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich during the team’s playoff run.
The Blackhawks did not address the allegations until after the playoffs. According to an investigative report, commissioned by the Blackhawks and released last week, Fehr was also made aware of the allegations, by one of Beach’s confidants, in December 2010. Beach was referred to the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program; last week, Fehr said in a statement that “the system failed to support [Beach] in his time of need.”
Beach, however, viewed it otherwise.
“I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after,” Beach said in an interview with TSN. “I believe two different people talked to Don Fehr. And for him 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. I don’t know how he can be in charge.”
Many players in the league viewed the situation similarly. Though Beach never played in an NHL game, the incident occurred while he was a “Black Ace” — a minor league player called up for the playoffs — and therefore, he was part of NHLPA membership.
“For nine years NHLPA knew and did nothing to investigate nor help Kyle Beach in dealing with this trauma,” one player rep told ESPN ahead of Monday’s call. “They stopped talking to him after the second call.”
Another player went into Monday’s call hoping to answer one question: “How was [Beach] left on an island?”