The Blackhawks played a hockey game at the United Center on Wednesday night. They scored the first goal for the first time all season and held their first lead in 366:41 minutes. They picked up a point but dropped their seventh straight.
And yet, whether it was a win or a loss, the result didn't feel very high on the list of things that were important, given the last 36 hours. Especially when you factored in the latest development.
An hour and a half before puck drop, former Blackhawks first-round pick (No. 11 overall) in 2008 Kyle Beach revealed himself as John Doe in the lawsuit against the Blackhawks. The independent investigation by Jenner & Block was made public on Tuesday in a 107-page report and detailed the sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the mishandling of the matters by the organization.
Beach opened up to TSN's Rick Westhead in a 25-minute interview, and it was raw and emotional from start to finish.
"Yesterday was a day of many emotions," Beach said. "I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cried some more. ... And following it, just a great feeling of relief and vindication, and it was no longer my word against everybody else’s. Because a lot of things were made public, a lot of people were interviewed, and I really felt like there was a lot of lies told in the media. And it was very special and important to me to have that truth come out yesterday."
Beach showed tremendous courage and bravery by revealing his identity. He tried to suppress the memories for so long but decided to share his story for one reason.
"It’s destroyed me from the inside out, and I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone," Beach said. "That if these things happen to you, you need to speak up. ... I hope that this entire process can make a systematic change to make sure this never happens again. Because it not only affected me as a young adult and now as a 31-year-old man, but it also affected kids because it was not handled in a correct way."
It infuriates you, even more, when you hear the words come directly from Beach's mouth. He felt betrayed. Nobody took his side. And after long 11 years, he finally has some sort of justice, although it doesn't exactly feel like that because his entire life changed from the events.
From an organizational perspective, the Blackhawks' culture needs to change and that process is already underway. Every executive from the 2010 Stanley Cup team is no longer with the franchise after Stan Bowman stepped down as President/GM and Al MacIsaac was removed from his role as senior VP of hockey operations.
"I think that the step the Blackhawks took yesterday is a great step in the right direction," Beach said. "They accepted accountability and they took actions necessary, albeit too late. And the denials until yesterday, I commend them for what they did."
Inside the locker room, the Blackhawks addressed the events after Wednesday's morning skate. CEO Danny Wirtz spoke to the team and the message was clear.
"The main message was to not let this happen again and treat everyone with respect in the organization," Alex DeBrincat said. "It’s a horrible story. I don’t think that will happen again."
For Beach, the healing process is just beginning. Speaking out was the first step. Now sharing his story and impacting the lives of others will be his life-long mission.
"The one thing I want to make sure comes from this is change," Beach said. "I want to make sure in any way possible that this does not happen to somebody else. Because it will happen again, I will not be the only one. Whether it’s in hockey, soccer, any sport, any business, any company, there needs to be a system in place that it gets dealt with. And that it’s somebody making the decision to deal with it, that has no skin in the game.
"I would love to be able to help, I would love to be able to advocate. I would love to be able to support survivors in coming out and coming forward, I’d love to be there in any way possible and I would love to be a part of a group that really comes up and designs a system to make sure that there is a safe place in the sports world and there’s a safe place that every child or adult, male or female can go if they’re in trouble or if they feel uncomfortable, where they won’t be judged and they won’t have to go through what I did."