Winnipeg Jets GM Cheveldayoff bears no responsibility in Blackhawks scandal, NHL says

WATCH ABOVE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday publicly apologized to former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach after an investigation by the league, headed up by the law firm Jenner & Block, found that Blackhawks management ignored allegations of sexual assault by Beach against ex-Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.

The NHL will not discipline Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff following an investigation into a 2010 allegation that a Chicago Blackhawks video coach had sexually assaulted former player Kyle Beach.

In a statement Friday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Cheveldayoff was “not responsible for the improper decisions made by the Chicago Blackhawks related to the Brad Aldrich matter in 2010.”

“While on some level, it would be easiest to paint everyone with any association to this terrible matter with the same broad brush, I believe that fundamental fairness requires a more in-depth analysis of the role of each person,” Bettman said.

“Kevin Cheveldayoff was not a member of the Blackhawks senior leadership team in 2010, and I cannot, therefore, assign to him responsibility for the club’s actions, or inactions. He provided a full account of his degree of involvement in the matter, which was limited exclusively to his attendance at a single meeting, and I found him to be extremely forthcoming and credible in our discussion.”

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Cheveldayoff was the assistant general manager of the Blackhawks at the time when Beach alleged then-video coach Aldrich sexually assaulted him. The NHL said in its statement he had no authority to make organizational decisions in relation to the case, and was not involved in the team’s response to the accusations.

Cheveldayoff met with Bettman on Friday to discuss his role in the scandal, which occurred during the team’s Stanley Cup playoff run. He said in a statement afterwards that Beach is “incredibly brave” for coming forward.

“First and most importantly, I want to express my support of and empathy for Kyle Beach and all he has had to endure since 2010,” he said.

“He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story. We can all use his courage as an inspiration to do a better job of making hockey a safer space for anyone who wants to play the game.”

The investigation by law firm Jenner & Block found Beach’s allegations were largely ignored by the team.

Another figure in the investigation, former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, resigned from his coaching role with the Florida Panthers on Thursday after meeting with Bettman.

In a statement, Quenneville said he resigned “with deep regret and contrition.”

“I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, has suffered. My former team, the Blackhawks, failed Kyle and I own my share of that,” Quenneville said. “I want to reflect on how all of this happened and take the time to educate myself on ensuring hockey spaces are safe for everyone.”

Quenneville stated in July that he was unaware of the allegations until this summer. He maintained his stance on Wednesday, despite an independent report into the incident claiming that he was previously in meetings about it at the time.

In his own statement, Bettman said the NHL “agrees” with Quenneville’s resignation.

“In his former role as Chicago Blackhawks head coach, Mr. Quenneville was among several former members of the Club’s senior leadership group who mishandled the 2010 sexual assault claim by former player Kyle Beach against the Club’s then-video coach, Brad Aldrich,” he said.

“I admire Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward, am appalled that he was so poorly supported upon making his initial claim and in the 11 years since, and am sorry for all he has endured.”

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Stan Bowman, who was general manager of the Blackhawks at the time of the alleged assault, also resigned from his position on Tuesday after the report was released.

Beach, 31, identified himself as the victim in an interview on TSN’s SportsCentre on Wednesday.

The then 20-year-old rookie from North Vancouver, B.C., never played with the Blackhawks but practised with them on regular basis.

According to the report, the encounter between Beach and Aldrich, then 27, occurred on May 8 or 9 in 2010.

Beach told investigators that Aldrich threatened him with a souvenir baseball bat before forcibly performing oral sex on him and masturbating on the player’s back, allegations that he also detailed in his lawsuit.

Aldrich told investigators the encounter was consensual, and had “nothing to say” when asked about the firm’s report on Wednesday. None of Beach’s allegations have been proven in court.

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When Beach came forward to the Blackhawks with allegations, the accusations reportedly went “all the way up the chain of command.”

But nothing was done about it, he said.

Beach told SportsCentre on Wednesday he watched Aldrich celebrate the team’s Stanley Cup win that season, lifting the cup and posing for photographs alongside team members.

“To see him paraded around, lifting the cup at the parade … it made me feel like nothing,” Beach said.

Since identifying himself, Beach said he’s received an “outpouring of endless love and support,” but that the Blackhawks “continue to attempt to destroy my case in court.”

Beach’s lawsuit, filed May 7 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Aldrich also assaulted another unidentified Blackhawks player. He is seeking more than $150,000 in damages.

Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in prison for the Michigan assault.

The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”

— with files from Twinkle Ghosh, David Lao, Rachel Gilmore, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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