Kyle Beach, a first-round draft selection of the Blackhawks in 2008 and a professional hockey player currently active in Germany, joined TSN's Rick Westhead on Wednesday to speak openly and publicly for the first time after he was sexually abused by former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich.
The full interview can be found here.
Beach was asked first about his emotions after an independent investigation found that the Blackhawks covered up the incident, and multiple members of the organization were dismissed.
“Yesterday was a day of many emotions. I cried. I smiled. I laughed. I cried some more. My girlfriend and I really didn't know how to feel. We really didn't know how to think. We just held each other and supported each other,” Beach said.
“It was a great feeling of relief, vindication, and it was no longer my word against everybody else's. Things were made public, a lot of people were interviewed, and I felt like a lot of lies were told in the media,” he added.
“It was very special and important to me to have that truth come out.”
Beach was 20 at the time of the incident. He was a member of the Black Aces when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. He spent another four seasons with the organization before moving on to play in different leagues in North America and Europe.
He never played a game at the NHL level.
Beach opened up about how the incident impacted his career.
“I did what I had to do to survive, to continue chasing my dream. That was to not think about it, not talk about it, to ignore it, and that's all I could do because I was threatened, and my career was on the line.
“If I had that in my head, there was no way I was going to be able to perform at the time.”
He also shared the feelings of having to witness Aldrich carry on with his responsibilities as the team's video coach and later celebrate the Stanley Cup championship only weeks after the incident and in a matter of days after management failed to report it to human resources or the police.
“I felt sick. I felt sick to my stomach. I reported this and was made aware that it made its way all the way up the chain of command, and nothing happened. It was like his life was the same as it was before. And then when they won, to see him paraded around, lifting the Stanley Cup at the parade, at the team pictures, at the celebration, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like i didn't exist. It made me feel like i wasn't important.
“It made me feel like he was in the right, and I was wrong.”
Beach revealed that he was told by the team's mental skills coach, James Gary, that it was his fault because he “put himself in that position.”
Westhead also asked about the extent to which players, coaches, and staff knew about what happened, and the verbal abuse Beach received from other NHL players, including teammates.
“I do believe that everybody in the locker room knew about it, because the comments were made in the locker room, they were made on the ice, they were made around in the arena, with all different people of all different backgrounds. Players, staff, media,” Beach said.
Beach expressed gratitude to many, including former teammates Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel, former skills coach Paul Vincent and former associate coach John Torchetti for coming forward to support his truth.
“They are heroes to me,” he said, adding, “I could never thank them enough.”
Beach said this about his decision to come forward with his identity:
“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. 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.”
Beach called the Blackhawks' actions, which included the dismissal of general manager Stan Bowman, a step in the right direction, “albeit too late.”
He added that there's “no way” Joel Quenneville, who remains the head coach of the Florida Panthers, can deny knowing what happened.
Shortly after Beach's interview, the Blackhawks released the following statement.
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As for what's next for Beach, he told Westhead that we wants to be an advocate for change and someone that can help create safer spaces in sport.
“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 up and designs a system to make sure that there is a safe place in the sports world and there’s 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.”
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