After revealing his identity as “John Doe” in a damning report released Tuesday that revealed inaction by the Chicago Blackhawks management when presented with sexual assault allegations, Kyle Beach had strong words for the league and its leaders.
That included current Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, the coach of the Blackhawks in 2010 when the alleged incident between Beach and former video coach Brad Aldrich occurred.
Beach said on TSN Wednesday that meetings took place in Quenneville’s office regarding what he told mental skills coach Jim “Doc” Gary and skills coach Paul Vincent after he reported to them what Aldrich allegedly did. Quenneville has publicly said he never knew of the allegations, although the report – compiled by Jenner & Block – said a contingent including Qunneville, former general manager Stan Bowman and other members of the front office discussed it.
Beach referenced the statement from Bowman, who stepped aside as GM and president on Tuesday, in which he said he was made aware of “potential inappropriate behavior.” The report, compiled by former prosecutor Reid Schar at Jenner & Block law firm, said Quenneville and former team president John McDonough wanted to keep the focus on the team during their playoff run. No action was taken against Aldrich until he signed a separation agreement after celebrating the team’s Stanley Cup victory.
“There’s absolutely no way (Quenneville) can deny knowing it,” Beach told TSN. “And there’s absolutely no way Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that.”
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Beach also accused the NHL and the U.S. Center for SafeSport of denying an investigation.
“(The NHL) let me down and they’ve let others down as well,” he said. “But they continue to try and protect their name over the health and well-being of the people who put their lives on the line every day to make the NHL what it is.”
Quenneville coached the Panthers’ game Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins. He and then-Blackhawks assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, now general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, are expected to meet with commissioner Gary Bettman in the near future. Bettman and Quenneville will meet at roughly 2 p.m. ET on Thursday in New York, Panthers general manager Bill Zito said.
Quenneville did not attend to his post-game media responsibilities following Florida’s 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Instead, Zito read a prepared statement:
“Joel will be meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman (Thursday) and he has no comments prior to that meeting. As an organization we commend Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward this evening to bring to light the pain he endured during his time in Chicago. Information that has recently become available is deeply troubling. There’s no question the events described in (Tuesday’s) report are serious and severe. We are working closely with the National Hockey League to assist with the ongoing process and with respect to that will not comment further until after the commissioner’s meeting tomorrow with Joel.”
“I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does his due diligence,” Beach said.
But he remains skeptical.
“They already let me down. They wouldn’t investigate for me. So why now?”
Beach had equally strong words for NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr. Beach said at least two people at the union spoke to Fehr about what had happened to him, and he reported details to a union representative himself, he said.
“For him to turn his back on players when his one job is to protect the players at all costs,” Beach said, “I don’t know how that could be your leader.”
Fehr apologized for the “serious failure” of the NHLPA to pursue further action at the time in a statement late Wednesday night:
“Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story. There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system.
“In his media interview, Mr. Beach stated that several months after the incident he told someone at the NHLPA the details of what happened to him. He is referring to one of the program doctors with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. While this program is confidential between players and the doctors, the grave nature of this incident should have resulted in further action on our part. The fact that it did not was a serious failure. I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making changes to ensure it does not happen again.”
The NHL did not respond to USA TODAY Sports’ request for comment.
Had Beach’s claims reached the ears of a powerful entity outside of the organization, he thinks the situation would have played out differently.
“If this would have been reported to somebody other than (team leaders), that didn’t have skin in the game of winning in the Stanley Cup, it would have been dealt with,” Beach said, “and it would have protected the survivors that came after me.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.