Many have wondered about the NHLPA’s purpose while Jack Eichel sits on the sideline waiting for someone, anyone, to allow him to have a procedure to help heal his injured neck.
What happened with Kyle Beach takes that distrust to a whole new level.
NHLPA head Donald Fehr released an apologetic statement Thursday morning after Beach identified himself as “John Doe” in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 sexual assault cover-up and scandal.
In it, Fehr agreed with Beach, admitting that the NHLPA was part of the system that “failed” the former No. 11 overall pick of the Blackhawks, who was sexually abused by the team’s video coach, Bradley Aldrich, while serving as part of the Black Aces during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup championship run.
“Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story. There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system,” Fehr wrote.
“In his media interview, Mr. Beach stated that several months after the incident he told someone at the NHLPA the details of what happened to him. He is referring to one of the program doctors with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. While this program is confidential between players and the doctors, the grave nature of this incident should have resulted in further action on our part. The fact that it did not was a serious failure.
“I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making changes to ensure it does not happen again.”
According to the independent investigation into the sexual assault, which resulted in the remaining members of the executive team from 2010 being dismissed, Fehr suggested that Beach, or the individual, could speak with an NHLPA-affiliated therapist “even though (he) was not an NHLPA member.”
Fehr denied recollection of his conversation with Beach’s confidant as part of the investigative report.
Beach said this about Fehr’s role as the head of the NHLPA in his powerful interview with TSN’s Westhead on Wednesday, in which he revealed his identity.
“I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after I believe two different people talked to Don Fehr. For him to turn his back on the players when his one job is to protect the players at all costs, I don’t know how that can be your leader.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman plans to meet with Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who were members of the Blackhawks organization and found to be involved in a meeting about the abuse Beach received several weeks before it was reported to human resources.
There is no word if Bettman, or someone else with authority, plans to meet with Fehr to discuss his role in Beach’s trauma, and the abuse Aldrich, now a convicted felon, was enabled to continue.
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