Ben Lepper ’25
***TW: Sexual Assault
The Cup won by the Blackhawks in 2010 will always have a sour taste to it. This story starts back in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Blackhawks had the eleventh overall pick, and they selected Canadian winger Kyle Beach. Known for his offensive skill and his tough playing style, he was the 2006-07 WHL Rookie of the Year and a projected top five pick in the draft (although he slipped due to discipline issues). The Blackhawks had just gotten what appeared to be a steal. Unfortunately, they would then proceed to ruin his life.
During the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Beach was called up as a “Black Ace” (a minor leaguer called up for the postseason). He remained with the team during their Cup run, and while he was with them, he was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, a video coach. Please note that I am not trying to brush past this incident; this was an incredibly serious and disgusting event. With that said, I do not want to describe the incident further—there is plenty more about it in the report published by Jenner & Block, the firm responsible for the investigation.
Beach promptly reported this incident to Paul Vincent, a skill coach, and Vincent brought it to the attention of the executives. Then, on May 23, a group of high ranking Blackhawks staff members (including coach Joel Quenneville, GM Stan Bowman, and assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) had a meeting to discuss what to do about Aldrich, and made one of the worst decisions in NHL history: they decided to not take action and let Aldrich stay with the team until the end of the Cup run (Aldrich even got to spend a day with the Stanley Cup). Following this, the Blackhawks gave Aldrich an ultimatum, and Aldrich decided to leave the organization, but not before the Blackhawks gave him a letter of recommendation. The incident was not brought up again until May of 2021, when two former Blackhawks players accused Aldrich of assaulting them, and an investigation was opened.
Words cannot describe how disgusting this entire situation was (and still is). Here is the biggest point: everyone in the organization knew and nobody did anything for eleven years. At training camp following their Cup win, multiple players called Beach derogatory words and asked if he missed “his boyfriend Brad.” Everyone knew. Nobody stepped up. The Blackhawks swept this matter under the rug and pretended it was just another day at work. Because of this, Kyle Beach’s career was ruined. He never made the big leagues and is currently playing in Germany. One has to wonder if he would have been successful without this weighing on his chest for his entire career.
With all of this said, the Blackhawks and everyone involved are finally beginning to pay for their actions. Shortly following the release of the report, Stan Bowman stepped down. Joel Quenneville stepped down from his coaching position with the Florida Panthers. Kevin Cheveldayoff remains the GM of the Winnipeg Jets but has multiple calls for his resignation. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith are all receiving heat for not saying anything. There are calls for Toews to be stripped of the C after his comments defending Stan Bowman. However, not everything is right. The NHL only fined the Blackhawks two million dollars for this whole scandal. Keep in mind the New Jersey Devils lost two draft picks and were fined three million dollars for trying to circumvent the cap in 2010, and the New York Rangers were fined $250,000 for criticizing the Department of Player Safety just last season. This is a dark time to be a hockey fan. There is a massive culture issue in this league, and something needs to be done about it. Kyle Beach coming forward is the first step. If this league wants to grow, the teams and the league need to start taking assault and culture seriously. Do better.