Could the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation happen here?

Kyle Beach NHL.com image

It hasn’t gotten the attention it is due — so we bring it to you, today, here, in the form of an editorial. Former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach told the world on Canada’s TSN last week he was the John Doe in a report requested by the team — and in a lawsuit he filed against the National Hockey League franchise — who was reportedly sexually abused by former team video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.

The situation is so heinous and so graphic, we cannot, in good conscience, share the specific details in this space, because it is not suitable for all to read. But suffice it to say, the coach, at the time 27, used his power of being in a leadership position to extort sexual gratification from the player, 20 at the time, by telling him if he didn’t engage with him sexually, the coach would ensure the player never played a game in the NHL. For a young Canadian man, this threat was real, especially given he was just starting his career. 

What’s worse, the Hawks were in the middle of a run to the Stanley Cup Final, which they won in June that year, against the Philadelphia Flyers, and management, from General Manager Stan Bowman to Coach Joel Quenneville, to everyone in-between, have been found to have basically said, in not so many words, “We’re in the middle of a run to win the Cup for the first time in decades. Nothing but hockey matters right now. We’ll deal with this, perhaps, another day.”

Well, another day turned to another day, to weeks, to months. Very little happened. Aldrich was eventually fired in 2010, but his name was etched onto the Stanley Cup and he was permitted to take the Cup, as all players and coaches who win it may, to a high school, of all places. 

After he was fired, Aldrich was given glowing recommendations by the Hawks organization — and went on to be convicted of sexually abusing a player at the aforementioned high school where he showed off the Cup. That high school, seemingly impressed by the Stanley Cup he brought for a visit, was so enamoured by Aldrich — and the recommendation — that they allowed him to work with their kids, aged 13 to 18, give or take a year.

So what does all this mean? It means if this could happen with players in the most elite hockey league on the planet, it could be happening in our backyard. Perhaps there is an athlete reading this right now who has been abused by a coach and who is too scared to speak up because of the power the coach holds. The athlete’s gender doesn’t matter — it could be a girl or a boy. 

Perhaps someone has already experienced this abuse at the hands of a coach but, until now, has been too afraid to speak out. Well, if Beach has left us with any doubts, one should not be afraid of the need for victims to speak out, to shout it if needed, until someone acts and helps. 

And if that victim is you, yes, you reading this right now, help is available. And it is time for you to say something!

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.