Former pro hockey player Kyle Beach accused an ex-Chicago Blackhawks coach of sexual abuse.
The NHL franchise settled a lawsuit with its 2008 first-round draft pick for an undisclosed amount.
The league previously fined Chicago $2 million for its "insufficient and untimely response" to the allegations.
The Chicago Blackhawks reached a settlement with Kyle Beach after their 2008 first-round draft pick accused a former assistant coach of sexual abuse.
After representatives for the NHL franchise met with Beach and a mediator Wednesday for the first time since the former player came forward with his allegations, the Blackhawks offered their former player a deal for an undisclosed amount of money.
A statement attributed to Chicago owner Rocky Wirtz, team chairman Danny Wirtz, and Beach's lawyer, Susan Loggans, said, "Blackhawks hope that this resolution will bring some measure of peace and closure for Mr. Beach."
"As for the Blackhawks organization, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that, going forward, this team will be a beacon for professionalism, respect, and integrity in our community," the statement continued, per ESPN. "We remain grateful for the trust and support of the Blackhawks community, and we promise to continue working every day to earn and maintain that trust."
As recently as May of 2021, the franchise dismissed Beach's accusations as lacking merit.
In October, the NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for their "inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response" to the allegations.
In 2010, Beach reported anonymously that then-Chicago video coach Brad Aldrich had sexually abused him in the run-up to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory that year. Despite learning of his accusations shortly after Beach reported them internally, the team's top brass was accused of not taking immediate action. Aldrich stayed with the team until the end of the season.
In the interim, members of the organization were accused of joking about the allegations of sexual coercion within the locker room, contributing to the irreparable damage Beach had already endured. Once Chicago ended the year with the Stanley Cup in hand, Aldrich left the team quietly with a severance package, playoff bonus, and a championship ring.
Until recently, his name was even etched onto the Cup.
Beach remained anonymous for an entire decade and even filed a negligence lawsuit against the team under a pseudonym. But after an independent investigation into the incident resulted in a damning 107-page report released in October, he came forward as "John Doe" and shared his perspective in an interview with Canada's TSN.
"To be honest, I was scared mostly. I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark," Beach told TSN anchor Rick Westhead. "And I didn't know what to do as a 20-year-old. I would never dream, or you could never imagine, being put in this situation by somebody who's supposed to be there to help you and to make you a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career."
Only 20 years old at the time, Beach was traveling with Chicago as a "Black Ace": a minor leaguer called up for the playoff run in the event of injuries. He was on the cusp of achieving his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL, and Beach alleges that Aldrich used that to his advantage.
"John Doe recalled that Aldrich said words to the effect of, 'If you don't lay down and act like you enjoy it, I'll make sure you never play in the NHL or walk again,'" the report from the Blackhawks' independent investigation read, referring to Beach.
It also described Beach's allegation that Aldrich once held up a baseball bat in an attempt to threaten him.
"You can't tell anyone about this; it is our little secret," Beach recalled the coach saying, according to the report. "No one can find out, or I will make sure you never play in the NHL."
Aldrich denied most of those allegations, claiming his interactions with Beach were consensual.
He was convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old player in Michigan in June.
The revelations that Chicago had so severely mishandled Beach's allegations prompted top-level departures both within the Blackhawks organization and across the NHL.
Following the report's publication, the team's general manager, Stan Bowman, and the senior vice president of hockey operations, Al McIsaac, both left Chicago. And Joel Quenneville, who'd been the Blackhawks' head coach at the time, resigned from his job as coach of the Florida Panthers.
Though the scandal out of Chicago was by far the most publicized in recent hockey history, it's just the latest incident in a broad and increasingly documented pattern within the game's most competitive circles. According to Insider's Jake Lahut, players are incentivized to stay quiet in the face of hazing or sexual abuse, which leads to a culture of silence.
The heart of the problem is what economists would call a "tournament system" — many enter the multi-tiered system of professional hockey, but few make it to the NHL — so players who speak out about a coach or culture risk destroying all they've worked for.
Such was the case with Beach, who now plays professionally in Germany. As his former video coach promised, he has never played a game in the NHL since reporting his assault.
Read the original article on Insider