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Maple Leafs Express Support for Kyle Beach, Simmonds' Faith in 'PA Leadership Shaken

As Kyle Beach's story reverberates around the NHL, players continue to reflect. An emotional Wayne Simmonds says his faith has been shaken by the NHLPA's leadership.
Wayne Simmonds

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds watched Kyle Beach's interview with TSN's Rick Westhead last week.

Fighting back his emotions when talking to the media on Thursday, the 33-year-old was visibly upset that Beach's allegations of sexual abuse were brought to the team 11 years ago and the issue was covered up.

"This is something that is systemic," Simmonds said. "I find in the NHL when something happens bad that guys are afraid to speak out because of repercussions."

His reaction echoes many around the league as players, including those on the Maple Leafs reflect on the past couple of weeks.

In May, Beach, (originally identified as John Doe 1) brought forward a lawsuit against the Chicago Blackhawks that alleged the team ignored the player and a teammate's disclosure of then video coach Brad Aldrich's sexual assault in 2010.

Following pressure from the media, the Blackhawks commissioned an independent report by Jenner & Block LLP that substantiated Beach's claims against the club.

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman stepped aside following the release of the report. Joel Quenneville, head coach of the team in 2010, resigned from his post as head coach of the Florida Panthers following a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

As punishment continues to be handed out to those who knew what was going, players are now looking at Donald Fehr, the head of the National Hockey League's Players' Association and his knowledge of the incident.

The 107-page report from Jenner & Block LLP stated that Fehr was contacted twice about the Aldrich incident.

On Monday, the executive board of the NHLPA convened and Fehr recommended that the union hire outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation into its role in the Kyle Beach-Chicago Blackhawks scandal.

"I don’t have enough of the details in terms of how everything was handled and I don’t think anyone will until that comes out," Maple Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot said.

Kerfoot is Toronto's NHLPA rep. According to ESPN's Emily Kaplan, 80 players were on the call.

While the investigation is ongoing, Simmonds was asked if the Beach incident had shaken his faith in the 'PA.

He took a long pause before answering.

"Quite frankly, yeah, it has," Simmonds said.

As the hockey world reacts, the Maple Leafs are trying to look forward as a group to assess that particular situation and ensure a safer space for players in the future.

"There’s a lot to be ashamed about," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "I think we as a group would be remised if we didn’t step back and analyze what we could have done differently in that situation and also look ahead to what we can try to create the proper resources for players to go to speak up and try to prevent that from happening again."

Following the Maple Leafs 4-0 victory over Vegas Golden Knights, Robin Lehner spoke out about Beach's experience.

“I encourage more teams to just talk about it and make sure that we're a part of it, so that this doesn't happen again," Lehner said told reports after the game. "It's not just on the NHLPA or NHL. All players need to take this seriously if you want change and culture change."

Simmonds is clearly heeding the call.

"I'm in lockstep with what Robin Lehner said last night," Simmonds said. "More players need to speak up. More players need to do their part."

Simmonds added that he'd like to see a neutral party put in place to oversee these situations and doesn't feel individuals or teams should be handing down discipline when it comes to incidents of this manner.

Given the NHL's track record, it's hard to disagree with him.



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