“It’s been a … it’s a big step for me, my process of recovery, as I process the events that happened and as I truly deal with the underlying issues that I have from them,” Beach said. “For me, I wanted to come forward and put my name on this. To be honest, it’s already out there. The details were pretty accurate in the report, and it’s been figured out. More than that, I’ve been a survivor, I am a survivor. And I know I’m not alone.
“I know I’m not the only one, male or female. And I buried this for 10 years, 11 years. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out. And I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone, that if these things happen to you, you need to speak up.”
Beach was a 20-year-old player for the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate when he was called up to the NHL as a possible fill-in for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was at that time, he alleges, that he was sexually assaulted by then-video coach Brad Aldrich.
On Tuesday, Blackhawks owner and chairman Rocky Wirtz, CEO Danny Wirtz, and Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Jenner & Block LL, read the findings of the firm’s independent investigation into Beach’s claims, and announced that Stan Bowman, who was Blackhawks general manager in 2010, was stepping down. In the findings of the investigation, the player was referred to as John Doe.
According to the report, Beach alleged he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich on May 8 or 9, 2010. Beach said he told skating coach Paul Vincent about the incident while Chicago was in San Jose sometime between May 12-19 during the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks; a meeting was held May 23, an hour after Chicago advanced to the Cup Final, in which mental skills coach and team counselor Jim Gary informed six individuals then with Blackhawks senior management of what Beach told him about the encounter, according to the report.
“What is clear is, after being informed of Aldrich’s alleged sexual harassment and misconduct with the player, no action was taken for three weeks,” Schar said.
Former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff are the only individuals who allegedly attended the May 23, 2010, meeting still working in the NHL, after Bowman resigned and senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac was let go by Chicago on Tuesday. John McDonough was fired as president and CEO on April 27, 2020, and Gary and senior vice president Jay Blunk left the Blackhawks this offseason.
Quenneville, coach of the Florida Panthers, and Cheveldayoff, the Winnipeg Jets GM, each is scheduled to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about the findings of the investigation. Each has denied knowing about Beach’s claims at the time of the complaint.
“I think that the step the Blackhawks took yesterday is a great step in the right direction. They accepted accountability and they took actions necessary, albeit too late and the denials until yesterday. I commend them for what they did,” Beach said. “Part of this process — I’m not sure what it was, three or four months ago — the NHL denied an investigation. They wanted nothing to do with it, they didn’t want to touch it. [U.S. Center for SafeSport] also denied doing an investigation. Now in statements that came out in the release, Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying — and this is not a quote, this is my words — saying that the playoffs, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault. And I can’t believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that.
“I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it and there’s absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that, to somebody who served his organization and his team so well.”
Beach also refuted claims that players on the 2010 Blackhawks did not know about the alleged incident.
“Word spread pretty quick,” he said. “I do believe that everyone in that locker room knew about it. Because the comments were made in the locker room, they were made on the ice, they were made around the arena with all different people of all different backgrounds — players, staff, media in the presence.”
His claim that all the players knew has been supported by former Blackhawks players Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel.
“I 100 percent believe both of them and I haven’t spoken to either of them since the last time I would have ran into them at a training camp. I do not know them, I do not have a personal relationship with them, I do not have their phone numbers, I have not spoken to them,” Beach said. “So for them to come forward, to corroborate the story, I owe them a huge thank you as I do Paul Vincent, [TSN reporter Rick Westhead], and many, many others. [Former Blackhawks associate coach] John Torchetti, my family, and friends for supporting me, my girlfriend, Bianca, for being there for me every single day.
“Because reliving this and having to dig back to those memories for the investigation, for the lawsuit, having to tell my story over and over has not been easy. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, but at the same time, it’s a huge step I realize now in the healing process. But for those individuals who came forward early on with absolutely nothing to gain, they’re heroes to me. “
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on June 9, and Aldrich was there to join in the celebration. On June 14, according the investigation, McDonough reported the information to the Blackhawks director of human resources, and Aldrich was given the option to undergo an investigation into the allegations by Beach or resign. He chose to resign.
Beach said he “felt sick” watching Aldrich get to celebrate the team’s championship.
“I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command by ‘Doc’ Gary and nothing happened. It was like his life was the same as the day before. Same every day. And then when they won, to see him paraded around, lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing,” Beach said. “It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel like, that I wasn’t important and…it made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong. And that’s also what Doc Gary told me, that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation. And the combination of these and him being paraded around, then letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened. There are not words to describe it, there really isn’t.”
Beach, selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 11 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, never played an NHL game. Now 31, he said he is playing for Erfurt.
“It’s a small club in the third league in Germany. But they treat it like a family, we’re treated very, very well,” Beach said. “The management — they’re very, very open and they do absolutely everything they can for us to make us feel safe, included, and that’s something that I really appreciate with where I am in my career right now.”
He said he’s not sure how going public will impact his life and career going forward.
“To be honest, I haven’t had the chance. This is all so fresh. But the one thing I want to make sure that comes from this is change,” Beach said. “I want to make sure in any way possible that this does not happen to somebody else. Because it will happen again. I will not be the only one, whether it’s in hockey, soccer, any sport, any business, any company, there needs to be a system in place that it gets dealt with, and that it’s somebody making the decision to deal with it that has no skin in the game. Because if this would have been reported to somebody other than John McDonough or Joel Quenneville or Stan Bowman that didn’t have skin in the game of winning a Stanley Cup, it would have been dealt with and it would have protected all of the survivors that came after me.
“So I would love to be able to help. I would love to be able to advocate. I would love to be able to support survivors in coming out and coming forward. I’d love to be there in any way possible and I would love to be a part of a group that really comes and designs a system to make sure that there is a safe place in the sports world and there is a safe place that every child or adult, male or female, can go if they’re in trouble or if they feel uncomfortable where they won’t be judged and they won’t have to go through what I did.”
Beach, when asked what his message to Commissioner Bettman is, said: “The NHL is inclusive. The NHL includes everybody. And they let me down and they’ve let others down as well. But they continue to try and protect their name over the health and the well-being of the people that put their lives on the line every day to make the NHL what it is. I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does due diligence, that he talks to not only [Quenneville and Cheveldayoff] but Stan Bowman, John McDonough and anybody else that has information to offer before he makes his decision. Because they already let me down. They wouldn’t investigate for me, so why would they now?”
The report said Beach also told the NHL Players’ Association about the incident and that NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said he would investigate, but never did. He said he holds Fehr and the union to the same standard as the NHL.
“Absolutely I would. He represents the players. I don’t know where I fall under the NHLPA. I never played games other than preseason, but I was on an NHL roster when this happened, albeit as a ‘Black Ace,'” Beach said. “I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after 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 if that’s what he’s going to do when a player comes to you and tells you something, whether it be abuse, whether it be drugs, whether it be anything. He’s supposed to have the players’ backs, and they definitely didn’t have mine.”
As for where he goes from here, Beach said he’s not sure.
“I’m just beginning that process. I’ve suppressed this memory and buried this memory to chase my dreams and pursue the career that I loved and the game that I love of hockey. And the healing process is just beginning and yesterday was a huge step in that process,” Beach said. “But until very recently, I did not talk about it, I did not discuss it, I didn’t think about it. And now that I’m beginning to heal, I begin to look back and it definitely had impacts on my life. I did stupid things, I acted out, I snapped … I did things that I never could imagine doing. I relied on alcohol, I relied on drugs and … I just so relieved with the news that came out yesterday, that I’ve been vindicated, and I can truly begin the healing process.
“There is people that are with you. And I hope that this entire process can make a systematic change to make sure this never happens again. Because it not only affected me as a young adult and now as a 31-year-old man, but it also affected kids because it was not handled in a correct way.”