IAt some point, Kyle Beach can no longer hold back the emotions. His voice becomes shaky, he closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. You have to have strong nerves when you look at the interview the 31-year-old gave to the Canadian broadcaster TSN. But above all, Beach had to be strong to finally speak openly about what happened to him eleven years ago. The then 20-year-old young player was sexually abused by the video coach of the Chicago Blackhawks from the North American NHL and then threatened not to talk about it, otherwise his ice hockey career would be over before it really started. Beach reported the case anyway, but nothing happened. For years. Until this week the results of a law firm’s investigation were published, revealing all the terrible details. Since then there has been a fire in the NHL, various people had to resign, among them manager Stan Bowman and star trainer Joel Quenneville, three-time champion with Chicago, most recently in Florida.
Beach experienced this from afar, today playing in Erfurt in the German league. It is “like a family” there, says the Canadian, whose vita does not want to fit into the third German division at all. Beach was drawn to number eleven in the 2008 Draft, the annual talent poll. The millionaire career was mapped out. But he didn’t make a single NHL game, first played in a lower class, later in Austria, Hungary and Sweden. People in the stands whispered: Hasn’t made anything of his talent, doesn’t live like a professional, sometimes drinks too much. Beach doesn’t deny that.
“Destroyed” by the events
He has “done stupid things”, speaks of “alcohol, drugs”. But he’s not a bon vivant, the events in 2010 “destroyed” him. First the abuse, then the missing consequences. Though the Blackhawks knew. Beach tells of homophobic sayings from fellow players. According to the report, there was even an internal meeting of the management level. The result: the chance of becoming a master is more important, just don’t worry now. Shortly afterwards, Chicago really became champions, and video coach Brad Aldrich joined the party.
“His life just went on, at the master’s parade, at the master’s photo, at the celebrations. I felt like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t important, ”says Beach at TSN. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the Blackhawks broke up with Aldrich without further investigation. They even wrote him a good report card that Aldrich then worked for the American association and later at a high school where he sexually abused a 16-year-old.
When Beach found out about the case, he decided to try again. Until then, it was only about “surviving, not thinking about it”. But the club, league and players’ union did not react again and even tried to hinder the investigation. That can’t come as a surprise in the NHL, where people who raise grievances are not in a good position. Racism, sexism, violence, mental problems, painkillers to doping, sexual abuse – hardly anyone speaks in public.
This time they have to, after research by several media outlets and the report, the collective failure cannot be discussed away. League boss Gary Bettman was “horrified”. Former teammates stick with their version, not knowing anything. Professionals from other clubs hardly comment. According to the law firm, numerous people refused to testify for the report. And there is one thing that nobody wants to talk about anyway: that there is a structural problem. Beach knows this: “I am a survivor. And I know that I am not alone. “