Kyle Beach is a hero.
In an exclusive interview with TSN's Rick Westhead on Wednesday evening, the man formerly referred to as John Doe in the investigation regarding convicted sex criminal Brad Aldrich's sexual misconduct within the Chicago Blackhawks organization revealed himself to be Kyle Beach.
Beach was a first-round draft choice of the Blackhawks in 2008. After finishing his final OHL season, he was called up to the Blackhawks for the 2010 playoffs as a "black ace", not playing a game but still being on the team roster.
It was during this time that Aldrich, who was the Blackhawks' video coach at the time, sexually assaulted him.
Speaking openly to the media for the first time following his traumatic experience, Beach recounted the aftermath of his abuse, outlining an intricate cover-up by the Blackhawks organization that coincided with an attempt to paint his claims as baseless.
"The Blackhawks denied it," stated Beach, showing more bravery than any member of that organization ever has.
"They said they did an investigation, they said my claims were meritless. To me, I took that as them saying to the world that I was a liar, that I was lying."
Beach also spoke openly about the role former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had in the aftermath of his claims being taken to the team's senior leadership. Quenneville previously stated in July that he had no prior knowledge of the claims until he learned about them through the media this past summer.
Beach, however, reiterates that that is false.
"I witnessed meetings right after I reported [the assault] to James Gary that were held in Joel Quenneville's office," Beach said.
"There is absolutely no way he didn’t know about it.”
Despite being scheduled to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Thursday, Quenneville will still coach the Florida Panthers tonight as they take on the Boston Bruins.
Beach's testimony also refutes claims by former Blackhawks players that they were unaware of these allegations while playing for the team back in 2010. Since the initial report of Beach's allegations broke, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and team captain Jonathan Toews, among others, have all said they had no knowledge of the events at the time.
Keith did so as recently as today, telling Edmonton media, "I didn’t know that that was happening and that those things happened to that person."
Beach, however, recalls a far different story, saying that teammates would berate him with homophobic slurs and taunts at practice that referenced his abuse.
“I believe everyone in that locker room knew about it”, he said.
The Chicago Blackhawks failed Beach. At every level. As did the NHL. According to Beach, the NHL declined to launch an investigation into his claims "three or four months ago". Beach said the same of USA Hockey, which he recalled wanting no part of it, either.
When reporting his abuse to the Players Association, Beach was granted no assistance, as well.
According to the report released by law firm Jenner & Block on Tuesday, a confidant of Beach's contacted NHLPA head Donald Fehr regarding Beach's concerns about Aldrich working for USA Hockey. Fehr said he would address Aldrich's employment with people he knew. Aldrich continued to work for USA Hockey. In a later email with another individual mentioned in the report, Fehr denied having any memory of such a conversation taking place.
“I was on an NHL roster when this happened. I know I reported every single detail of this to someone at the NHLPA," explained Beach, fighting through tears.
"And for him (Fehr) to turn his back on the players when your one job is to protect…I don’t know how that can be your leader.”
Beach wants change. He wants mechanisms to be put in place that ensure something like this will never happen to anyone ever again. And that is up to the league.
“The NHL has let me down and they’ve let others down too. And they continue to try to protect their name," said Beach.
“I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does his due diligence”
The bravery that Beach showed by coming forward to put a public face on his story is unthinkable. He is a hero. And he will be looked at as such. The precedent that Beach set with his openness to speak up about his abuse will undoubtedly inspire many others in both sports and otherwise to come forward with their own stories. That is certainly the legacy he hopes his candidness will leave.
“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. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out," said Beach.
"And I want everyone to know that you’re not alone”