On May 18, former Chicago Blackhawk and Montreal Canadien Andrew Shaw appeared on “The Raw Knuckles Podcast” to discuss topics such as his career, winning the Stanley Cup, and the injuries he faced while playing professional hockey.
Then he was asked about Kyle Beach. His response was anything but acceptable.
Shaw stated, “I have nothing bad to say about Kyle, but it’s a shame that something like this had to go that far when it could have been nipped in the bud pretty quick.
“… Obviously it sucks. As a 20-year-old, I would probably not put myself in that situation that Kyle was in. I never would’ve. I can say that, but obviously I don’t know what was going on with Kyle or anything going on in his head, but he put himself in a bad situation.”
In case you weren’t aware, during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup Playoff run in 2010, Beach was called up from the minors as well as a few other players as insurance in case any of the starting skaters got injured during the playoffs – he was what’s known as a “Black Ace.”
Unfortunately, Beach is not known for what happened on the ice, but rather for what happened off of it. In May 2010, Beach was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, who was video coach for the Blackhawks at the time.
It wasn’t known publicly until May 2021, when Beach, who went under the alias “John Doe” before going on television in October 20201 and revealing himself, filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks regarding the assault.
Per Jenner & Block, the law firm hired by the Blackhawks to conduct an independent report – reader’s discretion is advised – “[Kyle Beach] stated, among other details, that on one occasion, during the second week of May 2010, Aldrich invited him to his apartment, provided him with dinner and drinks, told him he had the power to get [Beach] onto the Blackhawks’ roster, and turned on pornography. [Beach] stated that Aldrich threatened [Beach] by telling [Beach] he needed to act like he enjoyed the sexual encounter or [Beach] would never play in the NHL “or walk” again, forcibly performed oral sex on [Beach], masturbated on [Beach]’s back, and then threatened [Beach] again before [Beach] was able to escape Aldrich’s apartment.”
Does that sound like he put himself into a “bad situation?” Being invited over to a co-worker’s apartment for dinner, unaware of the horrors that the person who he thought he had trusted would put him through?
What makes matters worse is that at the time in 2010, everyone in the organization knew about the incident from top to bottom.
On May 23, 2010, then-Blackhawks President John McDonaugh, former GM Stan Bowman, former assistant GM and now Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, former head coach Joel Quenninville, and former executive vice president Jay Blunk reportedly held a meeting on what to do about the assault.
Rather than taking decisive action such as terminating the individual involved, Aldrich, or contacting the authorities, the group chose to conceal the issue and postpone addressing it until the summer. Their primary focus was on achieving their goal of winning the Stanley Cup, which they ultimately accomplished against the Philadelphia Flyers.
A month later, in June, Aldrich was released, but he still had a day with the Stanley Cup and received a letter of recommendation from the organization to continue working in hockey. He worked for the Miami University of Ohio’s hockey department in 2012, where he assaulted two more men per an independent investigation commissioned by the school.
He then left Miami and joined a high school hockey team in Houghton, Mich., as a volunteer assistant coach, where he sexually abused a teenage hockey player. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and 60 months probation.
The players were aware of what had happened too, and per Beach himself, his teammates didn’t support him. He stated that there were derogatory comments thrown around in the locker room, on the ice, and around the building itself regarding the incident.
Now 13-years later, it appears that those same sentiments from his former teammates still ring true.
Shaw, as well as host and former NHLer Chris Nilan, continued the victim blaming. Nilan said, “I would never be in that situation, and if I happen to be, I would’ve f—ing gauged that guys’ f–ing eyes out.”
“My thumbs would’ve been through his f—ing eyes,” Shaw said.
It’s easy to put oneself into another’s shoes and say what would happen if they were in that situation. But the truth is that a situation like this paralyzes you. It takes away any control you have. And the result can and does mentally wreck those who have to go through something as vile as what happened to Beach.
Kyle Beach was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Blackhawks and an up and coming NHL player. After the attack, he suffered from anxiety and depression. His marriage fell apart. He almost quit playing hockey altogether.
The Blackhawks’ front office and coaches failed him by not immediately taking action against Aldrich. And his teammates failed him by not speaking up in support of him as a player and as a person.
Hearing former players make remarks such as “he put himself in a bad situation” and seemingly toss aside such a prejudicial situation twists the knife even further into the chest of Beach and other victims to sexual assault.
Hoisting the Stanley Cup at the end of the season is every organization’s dream. But the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks continue to smear their already tainted legacy, and will go down in history as a team that prioritized winning a piece of hardware over a person’s safety, health, and protection.