CHICAGO – They are the two players who are the face of the Blackhawks’ franchise both back in 2010 and now, so naturally many were eager to hear from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after the release of the Jenner and Block report on Tuesday.
That happened on Wednesday night after the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs at the United Center, as both players spoke to reporters about the scandal concerning the team’s slow response to a sexual assault claim against then video coach Bradley Aldrich in May of 2010 made by former first round pick Kyle Beach.
A few hours before the game, Beach revealed himself to be the “John Doe” in both the investigations and a lawsuit against the franchise.
The full investigation by Jenner and Block, which details what is classified as a “sexual encounter” and the Blackhawks’ delay in reporting the allegations to the human resources department, can be read by clicking here. (Warning: Documents contain graphic descriptions).
“Now when you go through the detail of it all, it looks ugly and it’s really hard to stomach the fact that you don’t dive into something like that a little bit more and take more seriously on the spot,” said Toews. “It’s always easy to say in hindsight and, obviously, it’s a long time again, but at the end of the day, I feel a ton for what Kyle went through and what he’s dealing with at this point, too. I don’t know what else to say and I think the guys that were a part of that group wished they “all could have done something different.”
Kane, who remains in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, asked to speak with the media on Wednesday following the release of the report.
“Just a terrible situation and very courageous for him to come out and let his name be known to the world after everything he went through. I knew Kyle pretty well through a couple of different training camps and just seemed like a happy-go-lucky guy and always in a good mood,” said Kane. “I think hearing that it was him and with the news and everything going on, obviously feel for him, compassionate for him and his family. Wish back then we could have done some different things or knew about some different things that maybe could have helped him.”
A few main questions were presented to both Kane and Toews during the media session, with the first being Beach’s statement that he believed everyone in the locker room knew of the incident. Kane said that he didn’t know that Beach was the “John Doe” in the case until he revealed his identity on Wednesday.
Toews, who spoke after Kane, said that he heard about it for the first time before the start of the 2010-2011 season.
“The truth is I had not heard about it until training camp the next year. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change what happened, it doesn’t take that away, it doesn’t make it go away. So I think at the end of the day, collectively, as players, if guys did know, hindsight’s ’20-20′, I think we wish we could have done something differently, myself included,” said Toews. “At the end of the day, my heart goes out to Kyle for what he dealt with and wish I could have done something. At the end of the day, it’s obviously not an excuse, looking back, but the truth is a lot of us were focused on playing hockey and doing what we were doing every single day, and if you do hear rumors, it’s almost just in the back of your mind.
During his interview with TSN Sportscentre and in a lawsuit against the team, Beach said that there was homophobic bullying because of the incident. Both Kane and Toews said they didn’t recall that happening when asked directly about it on Wednesday.
“As far as the bullying and different comments, I don’t remember any of that either. Listen, I think it was a terrible situation and obviously feel for him if things were getting thrown his way; tough words, bullying, different things like that. I definitely feel for him if that stuff happened,” said Kane.
Both players also commented on the departure of two main members of the team’s front office – general manager Stan Bowman and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac. Each resigned after the release of the Jenner and Block report.
Kane defended the franchise’s swift action with both but did mention his appreciation for Bowman, who was with the franchise during the forward’s entire career in Chicago.
“Definitely could have been handled differently, most importantly for Kyle’s sake. It seemed like the organization had to do what they had to do as far as making some necessary moves, as far as guys that were with the team back then that were still with the team now and aren’t with us anymore,” said Kane. “Listen, I knew Stan very well, I know him as a great man. He did a lot for me personally coming into the league and over the course of my career. I’m sure he probably would have handled things a little differently nowadays but what happened, happened in the past, and I think the organization made the right moves to get the Blackhawks going forward in the right steps and make sure we’re trending forward.”
Toews had similar feelings when it came to Bowman and MacIsaac when asked how this situation had affected his thoughts of the members of the front office.
“To me, Stan and Al, make any argument you want, they’re not directly complicit in the activities that happened. It’s not up to me to comment on whether they would have liked to deal with it differently or not,” said Toews. “I just know them as people and I’ve had a relationship and a friendship with them for a long time just being part of the Blackhawks family, and people like Al and Stan have made coming to the Blackhawks for players around the league that come here and play on this team, one of the special places to play hockey.
“To me, I have a ton of respect for them as people. Again, how this situation went down, what the timeline was, what they knew, I can’t really comment on that. It’s obviously a tough day regardless of the mistakes that may have been made for someone like Stan whose done so much for the Blackhawks, and Al as well, to lose everything they care about and their livelihoods as well. I don’t understand how that makes it go away, to just kinda delete them from existence and that’s it, we’ll never hear from them again. So I have a lot of respect for them as people, they’re good people and, again, when it comes down to how they feel about looking back on the situation, that’s not up to me to comment.”
Now comes the question of how the franchise moves forward after this incident and if it tarnishes their 2010 championships along with the entire decade in which the team won three championships.
“You have to accept that, right? There was definitely that problem that happened in the past and I think fans have the right to look at it the way they want.,” said Kane when asked if what happened would have an impact on fan’s perception of the franchise. “I think the organization under the leadership of Danny and Rocky seem to have done a really good job as far as, like, setting Jenner and Block in place to investigate and also release the findings and to make necessary changes.
“So I think the organization is doing everything they can to move forward and move forward the right way.”