NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is pledging to do better.
The league has been reeling from an investigation into the Chicago Blackhawks that showed the club mismanaged allegations of sexual misconduct in 2010 by Kyle Beach against former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.
Speaking at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, Bettman acknowledged not only what Beach endured, but said the NHL will make changes because of it.
“What happened to Kyle Beach 11 years ago was unacceptable,” Bettman said in his speech. “Kyle has our gratitude in coming forward. We mourn his pain and with him, we look to the future. We are looked at as an example for society and communities even beyond hockey.
“That begins with acknowledging what wrongs are committed and ensuring they are handled with empathy, respect, and inclusion. Our normal for Kyle and anyone else must always be vigilant to make sure that everyone understands what is and is not acceptable so that our game is always welcoming and inclusive to all. Our normal must be to learn from the past and do better in the future.”
Beach — using the alias “John Doe” in his filing — brought two lawsuits against the Blackhawks in May over how they mishandled his allegations against Aldrich. Chicago subsequently commissioned an independent investigation by Jenner & Block LLP, the results of which were made public last month.
Bettman met with Beach in late October, to find out what the league can do better in protecting its players. The NHLPA has also launched an independent investigation into how executive director Don Fehr and the institution itself handled Beach’s allegations at the time they were made.
One of the NHL’s initiatives has been encouraging all 32 clubs to report workplace issues anonymously via a hotline. The league claimed it was calls to that hotline which led to an investigation into former Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray earlier this month. The result of that inquiry into Murray’s “abuse” behavior within the organization was Murray’s resignation and subsequent enrollment in an alcohol abuse program.
Aldrich remained on Chicago’s staff when the team won a Stanley Cup in 2010. Considering Beach’s revelations, the Hall announced on Nov. 3 that Aldrich’s name had been X’ed off the Chalise.