NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly apologized to Kyle Beach for what the former Chicago prospect has been through after the player said he was sexually assaulted by an assistant coach in 2010.
Speaking to reporters on a video conference call Monday, Bettman said the league “could not be more sorry for the trauma that Kyle has had to endure … our goal is to do what is necessary to continue to move forward.”
An independent third-party report released last week stated the allegations were largely ignored by the team.
Speaking with reporters during a virtual news conference Monday, Bettman also defended the decision to allow Florida Panthers bench boss Joel Quenneville, who coached with Chicago from 2008 to 2018, to be behind the bench for his team’s game last Wednesday after the report was released.
Quenneville met with Bettman on Thursday before resigning.
Bettman said he did not want anyone to think he was prejudging Quenneville, who was the club’s coach when allegations surfaced that video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted Beach 11 years ago.
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Asked if Quenneville was given any kind of ultimatum, Bettman said, “Joel ultimately [saw] that the most sensible course of action was for him to resign.”
The commissioner also said Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff — an assistant with Chicago during the period in question and the only person present for a May 23, 2010, meeting to discuss the allegations still employed in the NHL — was “such a minor player” in the process, “had no responsibility for” the organization’s mishandling of the situation and didn’t deserve any punishment.
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On Friday, Bettman met with Cheveldayoff, the only person in Chicago management at the time who still works for an NHL club.
Chicago president and GM Stan Bowman resigned in the wake of the report, while the club announced Al MacIsaac, another one of its top hockey executives, was no longer with the organization.
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Cheveldayoff was scheduled to address reporters Monday, though that was pushed back by the Jets because owner Mark Chipman suffered a bout of vertigo over the weekend and insisted on being there for the news conference.
The NHL fined the team $2 million US for its “inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”
The NHL Players’ Association has an executive board meeting scheduled for later Monday to discuss how Beach’s allegations were handled.
“I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after,” Beach said during his interview on TSN in Canada on Wednesday, his first since coming out as John Doe. “I believe two different people talked to [NHLPA head] Don Fehr. And 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. I don’t know how he can be in charge.”
Fehr signed on as an NHLPA adviser in the summer of 2010 after Aldrich resigned rather than face a Chicago investigation. Fehr was named NHLPA executive director in December of that year.
In a statement last week, Fehr said the person Beach spoke with was a program doctor at the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, which while confidential he added should have resulted in further action because of its severity.
“The fact that it did not was a serious failure,” Fehr said. “There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system.”
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