The most horrific coverup in hockey history

Matt Kaufman

Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape and sexual assault

I’m Matt Kaufman, and I’m a Blackhawks fan. That’s a statement I used to say with pride, but the events of the past six months have made me question my entire fandom.

Kim Rostello, an exercise physiologist consultant for the Chicago Blackhawks, and Marcelo Vega, a CLC graduate, review a Hand Grip Dynamometer used to assess forearm and grip strength, which is important in hockey. Photo courtesy of CLC

The College of Lake County, which I attend, also has a connection to the Blackhawks. In a 2018 press release, the college said it was the only college whose students conduct fitness tests for Chicago Blackhawks players during training camps. I wonder whether those students have the same misgivings about their ties with the team as I do as a serious fan who has played the sport.

In May of 2021, it was brought to public attention that a lawsuit was filed against the Chicago Blackhawks for a coverup of a sexual assault on a former player over ten years ago. The assault was committed by former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich, who had his name etched on the NHL’s storied Stanley Cup till Nov. 3 when the organization decided to scratch it in a late gesture that will be a permanent reminder of a coverup.

Kyle Beach, on the other hand, had his NHL career erased when Aldrich sexually assaulted him. Beach was drafted 11th overall by the Blackhawks in 2008. A player drafted that early usually means future success, but after Beach reported what happened to him to upper management, their response was to keep him down in the minor league.

Beach never played a single NHL game.

A Chicago-based law firm called Jenner & Block conducted an investigation of how the Chicago Blackhawks managed to hide the alleged sexual assault of Kyle Beach for over ten years. The 107-page report was single-handedly the most disgusting and disturbing document I have ever read, but it is important.

Brad Aldrich reached an agreement to quietly resign from the team following their 2010 championship, which involved a severance package and a good recommendation so Aldrich could find work elsewhere. Aldrich also assaulted a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern before he departed from the organization. Aldrich accepted a job at a Michigan high school, where he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old student.

The upper management of the 2010 Blackhawks is directly responsible for the sexual assault of a minor whose family has been torn apart because of the incident.

Brad Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in jail for that incident, in which he only served five and was then put on five years’ probation. As of the current moment, he has yet to serve any additional time for the abuse of Kyle Beach and the Blackhawks intern.

And those are only the victims of Aldrich’s that we KNOW of.

Former President John McDonough, former General Manager Stan Bowman, former Head Coach Joel Quenneville, and former Vice President of Hockey Operations Al McIsaac all knew what had happened to Kyle Beach. They all denied knowing about it, swept it under the rug, and paraded with a trophy that is now tainted to Chicago Blackhawks fans everywhere.

The four men listed above have all resigned or been fired from their positions in hockey. Three of them resigned because of the allegations, but John McDonough was fired in 2019, before any of these allegations came to light.

Through the Jenner & Block report, McDonough was proven to be the ringleader as to why this incident was kept quiet. He has yet to issue a statement or even so much as an apology for what happened to Beach.

Bowman released a statement where he not only left out an apology to Beach but blame shifted to McDonough. Bowman was in the room when McDonough made the decision not to report the assault.

Quenneville is the only one of the four to release what seemed to be a remorseful statement towards Beach, but the word “sorry” didn’t appear once.

Beach appeared on TSN at the end of October, revealing he was the “John Doe” in the court documents for this lawsuit. He said his main reason for coming out was that not only did the Jenner & Block report basically give away his identity but more so, hearing the incident with the Michigan student filled Beach with rage and sadness.

It broke Beach to the point that he was apologizing because he believed he didn’t do enough by waiting this long to share his story. Kyle Beach has no reason to apologize – he is a hero and an inspiration to survivors everywhere.

“I was afraid, and I was scared, I didn’t think I could turn to anyone,” said Beach. “Even when this first came out, the Blackhawks denied it.”

Beach gave a voice to the voiceless because the Blackhawks wouldn’t give him one.

“I just wanted to reach through [the television] and hold him,” said the mother of “John Doe 2”, the student assaulted by Aldrich in Michigan. “I just wanted to tell him that everything is going to be okay. He’s not at fault for this at all, not at all.”

John Doe 2, a lover of hockey, was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich at a party celebrating the end of his hockey team’s season in 2013. According to the mother of John Doe 2, she wasn’t aware that the parents of the house that the party took place at were out of town.

The mother of John Doe 2 also gave an interview on TSN in the wake of Beach’s interview. She said her son was “unusually quiet” the morning she picked him up from the party. She also had found an empty bottle of Benadryl in her son’s jeans while doing laundry and found dozens more in empty shoeboxes hidden in his room. She confronted him one evening about it.

“I told him she [John Doe 2’s girlfriend] didn’t deserve to date a loser. He never raised his voice, ever to me, and he screamed in my face, ‘Do you want to know, Mom? Do you? Do you want to know why I’m a loser, Mom? Do you want to know why?’ As he yelled in my face, I was in complete shock. And that’s when those horrible words came out. He said, ‘Because I was raped, Mom.’ I just held him and screamed, ‘No, no, no.’ That’s all I could say.”

John Doe 2 currently works a low-income job where he can’t even afford healthcare. In a distasteful press conference with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, he stated that he would provide the utmost care and resources, including healthcare, to help Kyle Beach get through his healing process. When asked if he would do the same for John Doe 2, he disgustingly said the incident didn’t happen at the NHL level and that he would need more information to help him.

“I think [Bettman] needs a new job, that he needs to retire,” said the mother of John Doe 2. “I don’t think he has empathy for kids or even young adults. And if he needs more information, I got a whole folder full of it here for him he can read. If he needs more information to help my son, I have it.”

Bettman doubled down on his statement on Nov. 10, saying there will be no assistance for therapy for John Doe 2. It’s a total embarrassment for Bettman, who makes the cost of what it would take for John Doe 2 to get the help he needs in his sleep. If you ask me, the Blackhawks should be responsible for helping him, considering they are the organization that gave Aldrich a positive recommendation that landed him the high school job in Michigan, which led directly to what happened to John Doe 2.

The Blackhawks’ only punishment for the handling, or lack thereof, of what happened to Kyle Beach was a 2 million dollar fine. The organization makes over a billion dollars per year, so that’s pocket change to them. The New Jersey Devils were once fined 3 million dollars for signing a contract that broke the rules of the league’s salary cap and took some of their draft picks. So just remember, the NHL thinks a bad contract is worse than sexual assault.

The worst part of John Doe 2’s story is that it was completely avoidable, but the Blackhawks would tell you otherwise. McDonough, Bowman, and Quenneville don’t know what the word “accountability” means.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks on-ice performance hasn’t been good either. At the time of writing this, they have only 3 wins in 14 games, not having won a single game in the month of October. I was actually at the first game the Blackhawks won this season, on November 1st. It was my second live sporting event since the world shut down in 2020, and my first time attending a Blackhawks game since February of the same year.

The one thing besides wearing masks that was different from the dozens of other Blackhawks games I had been to before the pandemic?

It was eerily quiet.

The Blackhawks held the second longest sellout streak in NHL history until October 25th of this year, ending the streak at 535 games. There were about 14,000 people at the game I went to, in a building that is meant to hold 23,500. The last time the Blackhawks had numbers like that, the year was 2008, and the team was horrendous. It wasn’t until Patrick Kane scored a goal, and then another, and then another for the hat-trick, that the place got noticeably loud to me. The streak presumably ended because of the team’s slow start to the season and the horrific reports off the ice.

Fans have been gifted with a little optimism, as Blackhawks interim General Manager Kyle Davidson fired the entire coaching staff of Head Coach Jeremy Colliton and assistant coaches Sheldon Brookbank and Tomas Mitell on Nov. 6. Derek King, the former head coach of the Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate in Rockford, replaced Colliton and currently has two wins in his first two games. Whether that is because he is a good coach or that the players have finally gotten their game together will speak for itself, but I still stand by the prediction I made before the season that the Blackhawks will not be a playoff team come April of 2022.

Another gift is that Brad Aldrich’s name was X’d off of the Stanley Cup, yet some like myself would argue that it’s a distraction. Ten X’s replace Aldrich’s name, and it definitely draws your attention. It’s better than having his name directly on the trophy, but why it couldn’t be smeared out by adding a layer of silver on top was the way I thought it was going to go.

What happened to Kyle Beach and John Doe 2 is disgusting, unacceptable, and gut-wrenching. But thankfully, Kyle Beach and John Doe 2 came forward with what happened to them, and they have the majority of the hockey community’s support.

As far as my fandom for the Blackhawks, I will continue to support the team on the ice for as long as they exist. I’ve never cared who is in the front office, as long as they are good people and do good things, which the management team in 2010 clearly did not. There are only two players from that 2010 team that remains on the current Blackhawks roster.

You might have heard of them: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Toews said he wasn’t aware of what happened to Beach until the following year, and Kane said he wasn’t aware until the reports came out back in May of 2021. Beach, along with former teammates Nick Boynton, Brent Sopel, and Shawn Lalonde, have said on multiple occasions that everyone from that 2010 team was aware of what happened and chose not to do anything about it. The Jenner & Block report didn’t confirm that the players did know or didn’t know. I find it difficult to believe Kane and Toews, especially Kane, didn’t know about the assault. If Toews found out the following year, I find it impossible that Kane wouldn’t have heard about it until now.

Patrick Kane is the reason I fell in love with hockey and the Blackhawks. While I want to believe him, it’s hard. But until an official report says that he was fully aware back in 2010, I have to believe him. But I also want to believe Beach, who has been mentally, physically, and emotionally abused ever since the incident happened.

I couldn’t sleep the night that Beach’s interview with TSN aired, and I’ve watched it dozens of times. The same goes for the interview with John Doe 2’s mother.

I remain at a crossroads with Kane and Toews, but the Blackhawks have a new wave of young, talented, promising prospects in their system. I look forward to watching them develop, mature, and hopefully raise the Stanley Cup over their heads one day.

Many fans, staff, and even some players deserved to celebrate the Stanley Cup coming to Chicago for the first time since 1961. That’s tainted now, at least to me.

I’ll end by saying thank you to Kyle Beach, as well as Rick Westhead of TSN, who was the one who first reported on this story back in May and has stuck with it ever since.

To Brad Aldrich, John McDonough, Stan Bowman, and Joel Quenneville: do me a favor and rot in Hell.