The Chicago Blackhawks: What Did and Did Not Happen in 2010

Blackhawks fined $2 million in sexual assault scandal

On June 9, 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers during game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. The team lifted the cup above their heads for the first time since 1961. After almost 49 years without a victory, the entire franchise breathed a sigh of relief. 

Underneath the celebration of players and staff lied information long buried by the Blackhawks, which had yet to be discovered until recently. Kyle Beach, who was 20 years old at the time of the championship run, traveled with the team as a Black Ace. During those weeks, Beach told Blackhawks’ senior management about an incident between him and former video coach, Brad Aldrich. This ‘incident’ involved the player being sexually assaulted in Aldrich’s Chicago apartment one evening in 2010.

The Report

As written in a 107 page report by Jenner & Block, Beach said that Aldrich invited the player over for dinner and to talk hockey. After attempting to leave the apartment due to his recital of inappropriate advances from his coach, Beach was threatened by Aldrich. The video coach stated that he could ruin Beach’s National Hockey League (NHL) career if he did not comply.  

On May 23, 2010, Beach informed a Blackhawks employee. The information was given to Senior Director of Hockey Operations, Al Macisaac. That same night, after the Blackhawks won their way to the Stanley Cup Finals, senior management discussed the matter. The meeting included former Head Coach,Joel Quenneville, and Stan Bowman, the team’s General Manager (GM).

Bowman, in the report, recalled a statement made by Quenneville. The head coach said it was hard for the team to get to where they were, and they could not deal with the issue at that moment. 

For three weeks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, from May 23 to June 14, the Blackhawks continued playoff rituals. The senior management team knew about the incident, but did not take further action. Aldrich stayed in his position with the team, and continued attending practices in Beach’s presence. Beach recalled feeling uncomfortable and sick to his stomach anytime he had been in the presence of Aldrich. 

The Chicago Blackhawks Win the Stanley Cup

Many state that the Blackhawks’ staff went wrong, relying on one person after another to handle the situation. After the cup was won, however, President John McDonough informed the Director of Human Resources about the situation. HR, soon after, had a meeting with Aldrich. 

The video coach was given the option to either undergo an investigation, or to resign from his position with the team. Aldrich chose to resign. The organization allowed Aldrich to parade the Stanley Cup around his hometown for a day. He also had his name imprinted on the cup; however, it was removed in wake of the scandal 11 years later. 

Aldrich went to work for USA Hockey, The University of Notre Dame, Miami University of Ohio, and Houghton High School in Michigan. There, other allegations of Aldrich sexually assaulting young males came to the surface. 

Aldrich Convicted

In December, 2013, Aldrich pleaded guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor at Houghton High School. The following year Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years of probation. In the years after the 2013 incident, other players came out stating Aldrich’s abuse – two of which were from Miami University in Ohio. 

“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 in an interview with Rick Westhead on TSN in October, 2021. 

Beach was referring to young player who was also assaulted by Aldrich years after the 2010 incident.

He explained his reasoning for coming out about the assault 11 years later. 

“Because of what happened to [the student] it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action to make sure it wouldn’t happen to anybody else.” Beach said in tears. 

On May 7, 2021 a lawsuit was filed against the Chicago Blackhawks. The NHL fined the team $2 million for failure to act on the matter in 2010.  The league also agreed to give $1 million in funds for the community around Chicago, and to provide counseling for victims of sexual assault. 

The Bigger Picture

In 2010, the Blackhawks accomplished what they hadn’t done in 49 years: winning the Stanley Cup. What was still missing was the acknowledgement of mental health problems. The actions the Blackhawks and their staff failed to take during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010 have resulted in shame all across the NHL. 

Beach’s story will continue to propel mental health advocacy across all industries, and around the world.