Detroit Red Wings emphasize support in light of Chicago Blackhawks failure

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings have emphasized support systems this week in light of the appalling news surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks.

A report detailing allegations by a Chicago Blackhawks player of being sexually assaulted by a video coach during the 2010 playoffs revealed that numerous members of the organization’s front office at the time were informed of the assault but chose to focus on the playoffs. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, the son of former Wings coach Scotty Bowman, resigned Tuesday. Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks at the time, resigned from his position as coach of the Florida Panthers Thursday.

Kyle Beach, who identified himself as the player, reported the assault by Brad Aldrich to people within the Blackhawks organization, but those he told elected not to act.

USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Blackhawks and NHL continue to fail sexual abuse victim, just as they did in 2010

“That’s something we try to stay on top off on a number of matters, not just pertaining to this particular (issue),” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Friday. “There’s a number of things that our players go through that we want to make sure that they know that there’s support for them here. We certainly have discussed that and will continue to discuss that.”

Aldrich was arrested and pled guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor while working in Houghton, Michigan, in 2013.

“My heart going out to Kyle Beach, to John Doe in Houghton, Michigan, and what they’ve had to go through at the hands of a predator,” Blashill said. “It’s something that’s not going to go away, that they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives. In our room, we all have great sympathy for what those two have to go through, and any others.”

Forward Sam Gagner commended Beach for his “tremendous courage.

“You feel for Kyle Beach and stand with him and everything he’s gone through. It obviously took a lot for him to get to the point. It’s something you never want to see somebody go through. You want to see accountability for the things that have happened. It’s certainly an awful thing. We’re just hoping that Kyle, that this process has kind of helped him.

“With the culture of accountability, we’re hoping it helps our game grow as well. You hate to see it happen. Hopefully it’s a reckoning and helps us move forward.”

In addition to the revelations in independent investigation by Jenner & Block LLP, Beach has said he told the NHL Players Association what happened. The fact that nothing happened for a decade is something the Wings organization has emphasized must not happen.

“From our perspective, we have to make sure that our players understand that there’s support here for them in a lot of different areas,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure that we’re making the best decisions we can with our players and our staff and anybody around us, (with) their personal lives first and foremost.”

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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