Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews defend ex-GM Stan Bowman, while the Chicago Blackhawks stars also express sympathy and admiration for Kyle Beach

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Patrick Kane remains in COVID-19 protocol and didn’t play in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, but he took the unusual step of requesting to speak to the media after the game.

He wanted to address the elephant in the room: former Hawks prospect Kyle Beach’s revelation to TSN on Wednesday that he’s “John Doe,” the former player who has alleged sexual abuse by former video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 — the same season Kane and Jonathan Toews led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup.

Beach talked about his experiences — in which he said Aldrich forced him into an alleged sexual encounter at Aldrich’s apartment in May 2010 — as well as law firm Jenner & Block’s independent report that implied Hawks executives delayed acting on Beach’s allegations about Aldrich to avoid jeopardizing the team’s chances at a championship.

Beach is suing the Blackhawks for negligence.

“I haven’t watched (the TSN interview) yet,” Kane said, “but just a terrible situation and very courageous for him to come out, let him be known to the world, after everything he went through.”

Kane said he didn’t know at the time what was happening to Beach, who was brought up to Chicago along with other prospects from the Rockford IceHogs as one of the “Black Aces” practice players.

Kane said he would like to offer Beach his support.

“I don’t know if he wants to hear from us or not,” he said, “but I’d like to reach out to him and say that I wish I knew more at that time in that situation, if I could’ve done anything to help him out or not.”

Beach has said repeatedly in comments and court documents that he was bullied and subjected to homophobic slurs by teammates, but he hasn’t specified who made the comments or when and where they occurred.

“I didn’t know anything at the time,” Kane said. “Even today, when Kyle came out as John Doe, that’s the first time I knew it was him. So as far as the bullying and different comments, I don’t remember any of that either.”

Toews also said that, contrary to other former teammates’ statements that “everybody knew,” he didn’t hear about Beach’s alleged abuse by Aldrich until the next season, a stance Toews took earlier this summer.

“I don’t wish to exonerate myself in this situation in any way by saying I didn’t know,” Toews said. “But the truth is that I had not heard about it until training camp the next year. ... Doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t take that away. ... We wish we could’ve done something differently, myself included. My heart goes out to Kyle for what he dealt with. I wish I could’ve done something.

“It’s obviously not an excuse looking back, but the truth is a lot of us were just focused on playing hockey and doing what we were doing every single day. If you do hear rumors, (it’s) in the back of your mind. Now if you look at the detail of it all, it looks ugly and it’s really hard to stomach the fact you didn’t dive into something like that a little bit more and take it more seriously.

“It’s always easy to say in hindsight, and obviously it’s a long time ago, but at the end of the day, I feel a ton for what Kyle went through and what he’s dealing with at this point too.”

Stan Bowman, the general manager in 2010, was targeted in the report’s criticism of management’s handling of Aldrich — suggesting that he and other Hawks brass swept the matter under the rug — and the Hawks announced Tuesday that Bowman had “stepped aside” from his position as president of hockey operations and general manager.

Toews and Kane, however, declined to vilify Bowman or Al MacIsaac, who’s out as senior vice president of hockey operations, and pointed out what the two men did for their careers.

“To me, Stan and Al, make any argument you want, they’re not directly complicit in the activities that happened,” Toews said. “It’s not up to me to comment on whether they’d like to deal with it differently or not. I just know them as people and I’ve had a relationship and friendship with them for a long time as being part of the Blackhawks family.

“People like Al and Stan have made coming to the Blackhawks for players around the league, who come here to play on this team, one of the special places to play hockey.”

Toews said he continues to respect both of them.

“How the situation went down, what the timeline was, what they knew, I can’t really comment on that,” Toews said. “It’s obviously a tough day, regardless of mistakes that may have been made, for someone like Stan, who has done so much for the Blackhawks — and Al as well — to lose everything they care about and their livelihoods as well.

“I don’t understand how that makes it go away, to just delete them from existence and (say), ‘That’s it, we’ll never hear from them again.’”

Kane said the organization did what it had to do in seeking the removal of Bowman, MacIsaac and other senior managers and staff tied to 2010.

But he also said he knows Bowman “as a great man.”

“He did a lot for me personally, coming into the league and over the course of my career,” Kane said. “I’m sure he probably would’ve handled things a little bit differently nowadays. But what happened, happened in the past, and I think the organization made the right moves to get the Blackhawks going forward in the right steps and making sure we’re trending forward.”

The loss to the Maple Leafs extended the Hawks’ winless start to the season to seven games (0-5-2).

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