After the Chicago Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane commented on the sexual assault allegations made by former prospect Kyle Beach, who revealed himself as "John Doe" on Wednesday.
Both Kane and Toews were on the 2010 championship team, in which Beach served as a depth forward and "Black Ace" during the playoffs — which is when the then 20-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted by video coach Brad Aldrich.
After findings from an investigation into the alleged incident were released on Tuesday, Blackhawks GM and president Stan Bowman, as well as executive Al McIsaac, left their positions with the organization after the investigation found that both knew of the allegations leading up to the championship run, but took no immediate action and even provided Aldridge with a reference to continue working in hockey.
Toews, who has served as the Blackhawks captain since 2008, feels that both Bowman and McIsaac are "good people" and not complicit in what happened to Beach.
“To me, Stan and Al, make any argument you want, they’re not directly complicit in the activities that happened,” Toews said on Wednesday, via the Chicago Sun Times. “Regardless of 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, to just delete them from existence and [say], ‘That’s it, we’ll never hear from them again.’”
“I have a lot of respect for them as people. They’re good people. When it comes down to how they feel looking back on the situation, that’s not up to me to comment on.”
Kane echoed those sentiments, defending Bowman’s character.
“I knew Stan very well, know him as a great man,” Kane said. “He did a lot for me personally, coming into the league and over the course of my career. I’m sure he would’ve handled things differently nowadays. What happened happened in the past, and I think the organization made the right moves to get the Blackhawks going forward in the right steps and making sure they’re trending forward.”
The star Blackhawks forward also displayed some empathy for Beach.
“I haven’t watched (the TSN interview) yet,” Kane said, “but just a terrible situation and very courageous for him to come out, let him be known to the world, after everything he went through. ...I don’t know if he wants to hear from us or not, but I’d like to reach out to him and say that I wish I knew more at that time in that situation, if I could’ve done anything to help him out or not.”
Kane remains adamant that he did not know about the assault at the time, and when the report of the lawsuit first came out months ago, that he did not know it was Beach.
Within the investigation findings, there were descriptions of Blackhawks teammates calling Beach homophobic slurs during practice while harassing him on the topic. In Wednesday's interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead, Beach also made it known that everyone on the team was aware of the assault.
Kyle Beach on the 2010 #Blackhawks: "Word spread pretty quick. I do believe that everybody in that locker-room knew about it because the [homophobic] comments [towards Beach] were made in the locker-room, they were made on the ice, they were made around the arena."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 27, 2021
Toews also joins Kane in saying that he did not know during the 2010 playoffs, but found out months later, after Aldrich was allowed to resign.
“I don’t wish to exonerate myself in this situation in any way by saying I didn’t know,” Toews said, via the Chicago Tribune. “But the truth is that I had not heard about it until training camp the next year. ... Doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t take that away. ... We wish we could’ve done something differently, myself included. My heart goes out to Kyle for what he dealt with. I wish I could’ve done something.
“It’s obviously not an excuse looking back, but the truth is a lot of us were just focused on playing hockey and doing what we were doing every single day. If you do hear rumors, (it’s) in the back of your mind. Now if you look at the detail of it all, it looks ugly and it’s really hard to stomach the fact you didn’t dive into something like that a little bit more and take it more seriously.
“It’s always easy to say in hindsight, and obviously it’s a long time ago, but at the end of the day, I feel a ton for what Kyle went through and what he’s dealing with at this point too.”
Kane and Toews weren’t the only members of that Blackhawks team that commented on the allegations. Duncan Keith, now a defenseman for the Edmonton Oilers who played a significant leadership role on that 2010 Chicago team, wanted to make it clear that he has sympathy for what Beach has gone through.
“First of all, your thoughts go to the person who was affected by this,” Keith said. “It took a lot for him to speak out and bring this forward. That took a lot of courage. My thoughts immediately go to him, and what he had to endure at such a young age. I feel terrible about that.
“It’s still not easy to see what happened yesterday, regardless of everything. My memories of being in Chicago, especially at that time. …The players in that room, it was a special group. A championship team. In that sense, it’s too bad. But the bigger, more important issue is the person who was affected by that.”
Keith also shares the sentiment with his former teammates that he did not know about the assault at the time, and adds that he would have done something different if he did.
“Obviously, it should have been handled differently,” Keith said. “I didn’t know. ...If it happened now and it was something I was made aware of, for sure you’d have to say something. There has to be something done. It’s obviously unacceptable. It’s brutal what that guy had to endure and deal with, and probably still deals with today.”
Other members of that 2010 team, such as Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, are going to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the coming days about their involvement in the report.
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