There's now a name, and a face, to a sex-assault scandal that has shocked the hockey world.

There's now a name, and a face, to a sex-assault scandal that has shocked the hockey world.

Former top NHL prospect Kyle Beach says the Chicago Blackhawks sabotaged his career and life with the way they mishandled his case. The 31-year-old spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday in an interview with TSN.

Kyle Beach after being picked 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen</p>

Kyle Beach after being picked 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen

The Kelowna, B.C., product identified himself as "John Doe" in U.S. court documents filed earlier this year — a lawsuit that claims the NHL team negligently addressed then-video coach Brad Aldrich’s sexual assault of a Blackhawks prospect during the 2010 playoffs.

"I was scared mostly. I was fearful. I had my career threatened. I felt alone and dark," Beach said in the emotional interview. "I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody I could turn to for help."

Seven members of Blackhawks management met that spring to discuss the alleged assault on Beach and another player, which was first reported to skills coach Paul Vincent. The matter was never brought to police and Aldrich was allowed to stay with the team for three more weeks and participate in Stanley Cup championship celebrations.

"The only way I could describe it was that I felt sick, I felt sick to my stomach. I reported this and I was made aware that it made it all the way up the chain of command... and nothing happened," said Beach. "And then when they won, to see him paraded around lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist… It made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong."

Soon after, Aldrich moved on from the organization to take other hockey-related jobs, including one where he was later charged, convicted and jailed for molesting a teenage player.

"I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do more, when I could, to make sure it didn’t happen to him. To protect him," Beach said through tears. "But I also wanted to say thank you to him.

"Because when I decided, after a teammate asked me about it when I was playing overseas, and I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name and that’s when I found out about the Michigan individual, the Michigan team. And because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action, to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else."

Of those seven men in the 2010 Blackhawks meeting, five have since lost their jobs.

Team president John McDonough was fired in 2020, while executive vice-president Jay Blunk and skills coach James Gary left earlier this year.

General manager Stan Bowman and director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac both resigned Tuesday — hours after the findings of an independent investigation were made public in a scathing 107-page report.

The two remaining still working in the NHL are Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was Chicago assistant GM at the time, and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who formerly held that job with the Blackhawks.

On Wednesday, Beach singled out Quenneville, who recently claimed he first learned of the allegations against Aldrich this summer. The recent investigation says that was a lie.

"Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying — and this is not a quote, this is my words – saying that the playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault," said Beach, who made no comments on any role played by Cheveldayoff.

Beach was the 11th-overall draft pick by Chicago in 2008, but never played an NHL game. He spent six seasons in the AHL before heading overseas, and currently plays for a German pro team.

In the run up to the 2010 Stanley Cup, Beach was a member of the so-called "Black Aces," a group of extra forwards on stand-by in case too many regulars go down with injury. He was only 20, having just finished up his junior career with Spokane of the Western Hockey League.

"It was an extremely special moment for me and for my family and the next step for me pursuing my NHL dream that I dreamed about and worked for my entire life. So unfortunately, a couple weeks after, those memories were tainted, and my life was changed forever," said Beach.

"I did what I thought I had to do to survive, to continue chasing my dream and it was to not think about it, to not talk about it, ignore it and that’s all I could do. I was threatened and my career was on the line. And if I had that in my head, there was no way I was gonna perform at the top of my capabilities."

Beach said he experienced a wave of emotions at the release of Tuesday's report.

"I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more and my girlfriend and I — we didn’t know how to feel. We didn’t know how to think, we just held each other and supported each other," he said. "Just a great feeling of relief and vindication, and it was no longer my word against everybody else’s."

Beach thanked Vincent for supporting him, along with several others who have spoken publicly including ex-Chicago players Brent Sopel, Nick Boynton and former assistant coach John Torchetti, who all confirmed his version of events.

However, plenty of other former teammates haven't been so kind, he said, adding everyone on that team knew what happened to him and some ultimately taunted him about it.

With the Blackhawks internal investigation complete, Beach is now focused on the next step.

"I've suppressed this memory and buried this memory to chase my dreams and pursue the career that I loved and the game that I love of hockey," he said.

"But until very recently, I did not talk about it, I did not discuss it, I didn’t think about it. And now... I begin to look back and it definitely had impacts on my life. I did stupid things, I acted out... I relied on alcohol, I relied on drugs and… (now) I can truly begin the healing process."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.