VANCOUVER, British Columbia — One day after the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault investigation report was released to the public and hours after Kyle Beach identified himself as “John Doe” in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead on Wednesday, pucks dropped across the nation and games as the show that is the NHL went on.
After taking the night to reflect following the Flyers’ Wednesday night game against the Edmonton Oilers, captain Claude Giroux and former Flyers NHLPA representative James van Riemsdyk discussed the investigation and Beach’s display of courage prior to puck drop against the Vancouver Canucks.
“You really feel for Kyle Beach and what he’s been through,” van Riemsdyk said. “I can’t even imagine over these years. I’m sure it feels good for him to kind of get some of this out in the open now and to hopefully find some peace with that. But certainly, it had to be really hard and challenging times for him to go through that, so you just want to offer your support for him for that.”
Giroux said the team met in “different groups” to “reflect on how it happened.” Both Giroux and van Riemsdyk were members of the Flyers team that played against the Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final when Beach was a Black Ace, a player added to the team’s roster in the playoffs after his minor-league season is over. According to a lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks, during the Blackhawks’ Cup run, Beach was sexually assaulted by video coach Brad Aldrich.
Details of the incident initially emerged from the lawsuit filed by Beach and another, still-anonymous player. On June 27, former 2010 Flyer Daniel Carcillo wrote in a tweet that “we heard the whispers of what Aldrich did” and that he found it “hard to believe” that members of the Blackhawks organization didn’t know about the assault. Carcillo’s tweet came the day after a former Blackhawks associate coach confirmed that a meeting occurred among team management during the 2010 NHL playoffs to discuss the incident.
Giroux said he did not know about the allegations at the time.
“I had the chance today to call a few players that I played with on that year, Reemer’s one of them. We didn’t know about it,” Giroux said. “It’s just, the whole story, it’s pretty disgusting and sad.”
The report showed that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr was made aware of the allegations against Aldrich at the time and failed to properly investigate the incident. On Wednesday, Fehr released a statement through the NHLPA, apologizing for not taking further action.
“I think obviously the PA’s there to try to be an advocate, an asset, a place for players to have the players’ backs,” van Riemsdyk said. “And obviously, in this case, that didn’t happen.
“But certainly, in the sense of the PA needing to have the player’s back and if there was some sort of line of communication that was started, and it went this long without something happening, clearly that’s not OK. So hopefully these are sort of things that we’re probably going to have to go over and look through as a PA and as players and things like that.”
When asked to detail the current internal protocol to report inappropriate conduct or violations of the NHL’s policies, van Riemsdyk said he had a general idea of the process.
“I don’t think we’ve necessarily been walked through step-by-step how things would go,” van Riemsdyk said. “But I think just in general if you see something that’s not right or someone comes to you with something that’s not right, generally, that’s the way it’s handled is you kind of go to management, and they usually know the right steps that are in place to handle these sorts of matters.”
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said that the Blackhawks’ mishandling of the incident should lead NHL clubs to review their own internal protocols and ensure that members of the organization feel comfortable coming forward about any concern.
“I think you’ve got to talk about the courage of the young man to come forward. Obviously, it wasn’t easy,” Vigneault said. “How something like that can happen is inexcusable. So I think everyone right now is trying to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. What I mean by everyone is everyone in the NHL, every organization. I think that’s where everybody’s at at this time.”