NHL’s response to sexual assault allegations should not be accepted


Sam Pasman ’25 is currently undecided as to a major. In addition to The Flat Hat, Sam participates in the running club, Team Blitz, and is the scholarship chair of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Email Sam at spasman@email.wm.edu.

The author’s opinions are their own.

Content Warning: this article discusses sexual assault. 

In May 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League were deep into a playoff run. To fill out the roster, they called up a prospect, Kyle Beach. What should have been Beach’s dream — playing in the NHL playoffs — turned into a nightmare when he was sexually assaulted by the team’s video coach Brad Aldrich. 

When Beach reported this to the front office, as he should have done, they met to decide if the accusations were credible and what should be done with Aldrich if they were. In the meeting, they decided that the accusations were indeed credible. Yet Aldrich was not fired from the team. Nor was he even asked to resign. Nor was he even sent home on leave. He kept working in his capacity as video coach, having daily interactions with the players and with Beach, until after the season was over and he quietly left the team. All of this was only revealed to the public when Beach sued the Blackhawks in 2020. In late October 2021, Stan Bowman and all of the other men who attended that now-infamous meeting were either fired by the Blackhawks or forced to resign by the NHL. All except one: Kevin Cheveldayoff. Cheveldayoff, now the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, was allowed to remain in his job. In its press release explaining this decision, the NHL stated that:

“As an Assistant General Manager at the time, Cheveldayoff, who reported directly to Stan Bowman, was the lowest ranking Club official in the room, and his position included no oversight responsibilities over the Club’s coaching staff. He was among the last to be included in the meeting; he was learning of the subject matter for the first time in the presence of his boss (then-GM Stan Bowman), his boss’ boss (then-CEO John McDonough) and the Head Coach (Joel Quenneville), who was Brad Aldrich’s direct superior; he had limited familiarity with the personnel involved; and he was essentially an observer to the discussion of possible next steps, which discussion, apparently, ended with Cheveldayoff believing that the matter was going to be investigated.”

Now, I fully understand why anyone familiar with the NHL and its lax treatment of misbehavior (see Evander Kane’s domestic violence allegations, various other GMs and players accused of sexual assault, and the league’s utter inability to address racism in the sport) would find this more than a little suspicious. But since everyone else involved in this case was forced out, and only Cheveldayoff remains employed, we can give the league the benefit of the doubt here. He was not fired because he performed what was required of him, which was learning of the assault and coming away from the meeting confident that the matter would be investigated by superiors.

But while Cheveldayoff might have done all he was required to do, he most certainly did not do what he should have done. He should have checked to see if there was actually an investigation. He should have gone to the Chicago Police Department and informed them as to what happened. He even could have gone to Beach, explained the meeting, and told him that he thought the team would act on the allegations. He did none of these things. He did his strict duty and nothing more. Legally, he may be in the right. By the NHL’s reporting rules, he may be in the right. What cannot be doubted is that morally, strictly by anyone’s conscience, he is in the wrong.

It is unlikely that any of us here at the College of William and Mary will be NHL general managers. But what we should remember, what we must remember, is that there is sometimes a difference between doing only what is required of us and doing what is morally right. Sexual assault is, rightfully, a topic of strong emphasis on this campus. All of us — students, faculty and administration — know what we are required to do if we find ourselves in situations we are bound to report. Doing the right thing, however, is not something to be done halfway or have any “gray area.” You do it fully or not at all. Should we ever find ourselves in a situation like that of Cheveldayoff, let us follow our morals, and not just our required duties. Unlike him, then we truly will be doing the right thing.


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