Blackhawks mishandled sexual assault case

Mallory Vaudo, News Editor

Using the name “John Doe,” a former Chicago Blackhawks player filed a lawsuit in May 2010 against the team, claiming he had been sexually assaulted by the Blackhawks former video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup run. The former player also claimed that the Blackhawks were made fully aware of the situation, yet had not taken any action. Then, on Oct. 25, 2021, the American law firm Jenner & Block released a 107-page report about the sexual assault case and its surrounding events in 2010. Two days later, Kyle Beach, a former first-round draft pick for the Blackhawks, came forward as John Doe. 

Much more information has been revealed since the release of the Jenner & Block report and Kyle Beach confirming himself as the player who filed the lawsuit. The report states that the sexual assault took place in early May 2010. Beach first reported the incident to Paul Vincent, the Blackhawks skills coach. Beach claimed Vincent did all he could to help him, although it did not amount to much.

On May 23, the day they won the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs, the Blackhawks had a staff meeting after hearing about the situation with Aldrich and Beach. Then-President of the team John McDonough, General Manager Stan Bowman, Head Coach Joel Quenneville, and Senior Director of Hockey Administration Al MacIsaac were all in attendance. In Jenner & Block’s report, Bowman recalls that Quenneville brushed off any concerns, mentioning how hard it had been for the Blackhawks to get to where they were and how they couldn’t currently deal with the issue. No action was taken, and after winning the Stanley Cup, Aldrich still got to celebrate with the team and have his name engraved on the trophy.

However, on June 14, 2010, five days after the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory, their director of Human Resources was informed of the issue for the first time. She scheduled a meeting with Aldrich, and told him he could either resign or take a leave of absence while an investigation occurred. Aldrich resigned, and no investigation took place at the time.

Eleven years later, the repercussions of the situation are now just beginning. Bowman, Quenneville and MacIsaac all stepped down from their current positions in the NHL. The NHL has also been fined $2 million for their mishandling of the situation. Half of this fine has gone to organizations around Chicago that work to support victims of sexual assault. In addition, the NHL created an anonymous hotline for personnel if they feel they have experienced any misconduct within the league, and the NHL Players Association has recently met to discuss their neglect of the situation in 2010, and work towards the prevention of similar situations in the future. 

Beach has begun speaking out on the importance of creating precautions and resources to guard against sexual assault.

“I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone,” Beach said in a recent interview with The Sports Network. “If these things happen to you, you need to speak up. There are people that are with you. And I hope that this entire process can make a systematic change to make sure this never happens again.”