Jonathan Toews remembers Kyle Beach as a happy-go-lucky kid who had a mean streak in junior hockey and didn’t fear stirring things up with a rougher style on the ice.
The Chicago Blackhawks captain didn’t know Beach well and was at training camp a few months removed from hoisting his first Stanley Cup in 2010 when he heard rumors that former video coach Brad Aldrich had a sexual encounter with the prospect during that championship run.
“It wasn’t something that was taken super seriously at the time,” said Toews, who came off the COVID-19 list Wednesday prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I thought Brad being let go or resigning from the organization was the way that it was dealt with. To me, it was water under the bridge.”
Beach, now 31, came forward Wednesday as “John Doe,” the accuser in the report released by former federal prosecutor Reid J. Schar through the law firm Jenner & Block. He says the incident with Aldrich, who was later imprisoned in Michigan for sexual conduct with a student following his time with the Blackhawks, was not consensual; Aldrich maintains it was.
In an emotional interview with TSN, Beach said news of what happened in May 2010 spread quickly and that he was subjected to bullying by teammates. As a 22-year-old captain in 2010, Toews said he and everyone on the team wishes things went differently.
“Had I been connected to the situation and known some of the more gory details of it, I’d like to say yeah,” he said, “I would have acted differently in my role as captain, yeah.
“It puts things in perspective. When you’re chasing your dream of a Stanley Cup it becomes the only thing. They say winning is everything. It just consumes your whole world. It’s a special memory in a lot of ways, but when something like this tarnishes it, it definitely makes you realize that there’s more to life than hockey. In so many ways it’s an unfortunate situation. Winning the Stanley Cup that year is beside the point.”
The report said a contingent of then-coach Joel Quenneville (now coaching the Florida Panthers), former general manager Stan Bowman and other members of the front office discussed what Beach had told the team’s skills coach (Paul Vincent) and mental skills coach (Jim “Doc” Gary) about his encounter with Aldrich.
Bowman and Al MacIsaac stepped away from their roles Tuesday, while Gary, Vincent and then-president John McDonough are out of hockey. Toews questioned what losing their jobs – in the case of Bowman and MacIsaac – might accomplish.
“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 would 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.
“How this situation went down, what the timeline was, what they knew, I can’t really comment on that. It’s obviously a tough day. Regardless of the 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 – just delete them from existence and that’s it, we’ll never hear from them. So I have a lot of respect for them as people. They’re good people.”
Toews took part in the Jenner & Block investigation, he said. He told them what he recalled: teammates were talking outside of the hotel before training camp started the following season.
“Just kind of briefly telling the story,” he said.
It was the first time he heard it.
Toews added: “Beyond that, it was all speculation. And that was as best as I could remember and I’m sure everyone did the same to share what they could to be helpful in the investigation.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.