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The Chicago Blackhawks continue to skirt consequences

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AUGUST 23, 2023

Content warning: sexual assault 

It’s been said time and time again that sports breed a less-than-desirable culture among young men. While this sentiment is mainly used to argue that “boys will be boys” — and to make excuses for what many would deem petty drama — professional sports leagues prove that this attitude has a very real effect on the culture.

But not-so-real consequences for those who perpetuate it.

The NHL has been the star of many scandals, but arguably nothing bigger than the alleged sexual assault of Kyle Beach under the leadership of the Chicago Blackhawks.

In 2010, right after the Stanley Cup took a trip to Chicago, a “John Doe” filed a lawsuit. In it, he claimed that video coach Brad Aldrich threatened physical violence before masturbating on his back and performing forced oral sex.

This John Doe, as revealed just two years ago, was Beach.

In the case with Beach and the Blackhawks, a settlement was eventually reached.

Beach was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008. He was a valuable member of the team, but the Blackhawks seemed to forget his value in lieu of protecting the organization.

After the alleged assault, Beach immediately reported the act up the organization’s chain of command beginning with skills instructor Paul Vincent. Though Vincent accepted Beach’s account and ultimately fought for him, Beach was forced to share a space with Aldrich for the next three weeks.

The reason? At the top of the chain of command sat “Doc” James Gary, the Blackhawks’ mental skills coach and counselor at the time, who made it clear he did not support Beach. In fact, in an interview with TSN, Beach recalled that Gary pinned the blame on Beach, saying it was “completely and utterly his own fault for putting himself in that situation.”

Not only did Beach allege he faced ill treatment from upper management, but also from his teammates. Even if the world didn’t realize it, he firmly alleged in an interview with TSN that “everyone in that locker room knew about it.”

This didn’t, however, bring about a teamwide show of support. Instead, members of the Chicago Blackhawks began to throw around homophobic slurs both in the locker room and on the ice.

The question of the case’s relevance to today’s Blackhawks has been flying around since Beach courageously came forward in 2021. The management is gone, Beach now plays in a professional German league and the lawsuit has been settled. However, former Blackhawks leaders such as Rocky Wirtz refuse to speak about the topic, claiming to leave it in the past.

But this isn’t just about one person. It’s about the culture. The limited consequences allowed Aldrich to allegedly sexually assault other people.

The Blackhawks allegedly ended up writing Aldrich a letter of recommendation to take a new job at a Michigan high school. There, after getting off virtually scot-free, Aldrich went on to sexually assault another athlete. Only this time, the athlete was an anonymous 16-year-old student. In 2021, an investigation concluded that Aldrich also assaulted two men affiliated with Miami University in Ohio. These two crimes had taken place in 2012.

Blackhawks’ team leaders — the very same ones who allegedly knew what had happened and did absolutely nothing — went on to continue their glory days, while Beach never played another game in the NHL.

In 2014, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the captain and assistant captain of the team, respectively, went on to make $168 million while cementing their legacies as the best North American skaters in league history — not as two men who allegedly turned a blind eye on a survivor of SVSH.

The question arises again: How long will the Blackhawks be “punished” for these crimes? Within the NHL and the jurisdiction of the Blackhawks, this was a one-time deal. The answer to that question is simple: Punish the Chicago Blackhawks more harshly than the Arizona Coyotes, who were forced to forfeit two draft picks after “violating the NHL’s combine testing policy.”

In short, this means putting prospects through workouts not part of the combine. On the other hand, the Blackhawks were fined only $2 million, still permitting them to pick freely during the draft.

Two million to a massive organization such as the Blackhawks is trivial, as they brought in about $25 million in revenue in 2022. Most important to them, as a struggling bottom-five franchise, are their draft picks.

This year, due to the lottery draft in place, the organization was allowed to pick first overall in the NHL draft, landing generational talent Connor Bedard, despite not finishing last in the league. Immediately after the Blackhawks drafted Bedard, they made more than $5 million in ticket sales, earning back their fine in less than a day.

There is a culture within sports that allows men like Aldrich to get away with multiple allegations of sexual assault. A culture that allows news like this to be swept under the rug for 11 years. A culture that, evidently, will not change any time soon.

Contact Roxana Nourishad at 


AUGUST 23, 2023