The Jets GM has confirmed that the team was informed of Kyle Beach’s trade request just minutes before it became public. He also addressed his time within Chicago, saying he knew almost nothing about what happened with the Blackhawks’ captain during those years.
The “winnipeg blue bombers” is a hockey team that plays in the Canadian Hockey League’s Western Conference. The Winnipeg Jets are an expansion team of the National Hockey League (NHL) and play their home games at Bell MTS Place. They were founded in 2011 as part of the NHL’s efforts to expand into Canada, and began playing in the 2011-12 season.
Kevin Cheveldayoff, the Winnipeg Jets’ general manager, stated Tuesday that he was never made aware of Kyle Beach’s sexual assault claims against former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich when he was the team’s assistant GM.
Cheveldayoff admitted in a press conference with Jets owner Mark Chipman that he was in the room on May 23, 2010, with Blackhawks executives, including then-GM Stan Bowman, senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, president John McDonough, and coach Joel Quenneville, after Beach approached the club about what he claimed were Aldrich’s improprieties.
However, Cheveldayoff claims that he was unaware of the extent of Beach’s charges at the time.
“I was requested to enter into an ongoing meeting,” Cheveldayoff said. “I was then asked whether I had heard or knew of any claims, rumors, or anything similar involving Brad Aldrich or any of the players. I said emphatically that I had not. Following that, I had no role in the meeting.”
“There were claims of the improper texting and unwelcome approaches [between Aldrich and Beach] and that maybe they were socializing away from the rink, which really shouldn’t be occurring,” Cheveldayoff claimed he was informed at the time “through some talks.” So it surprised me, but only to the extent that I knew about it.
“What I heard in the room, although not acceptable, were certain charges that sounded like harassment to my non-legal ears… and my impression was that it would be examined and handled with. I’d like to believe that if I’d realized there was any sexual assault involved, the situation would have escalated.”
In May, Beach filed two lawsuits against the Blackhawks, claiming that they mismanaged his charges against Aldrich. Beach used the identity “John Doe” in his case. After that, Chicago hired Jenner & Block LLP to conduct an independent inquiry, the findings of which were released last week.
“All of the participants” in the May 23 meeting “remembered being informed that there was an incident between Aldrich and John Doe involving an unwelcome sexual advance,” Jenner & Block said, but “none of the participants recalled being told about the type of clearly non-consensual sexual conduct that is described by John Doe in his lawsuit or was described during John Doe’s interview with us.”
Cheveldayoff claimed he left the meeting with the expectation that it would be escalated by a member of high management. Cheveldayoff claimed he felt the situation “had been resolved” until Aldrich was let go by the company three weeks later.
Despite this, Cheveldayoff issued a statement in July claiming that he “wasn’t aware” of any sexual assault claims made by Beach until he left the Blackhawks in 2011. Cheveldayoff tried to explain that comment on Tuesday, claiming it was in reference to a meeting with Blackhawks skill coach Paul Vincent before to May 23, during which Beach’s charges were reviewed.
“There was a meeting with Paul Vincent and a few of the executives who were selected at the May 23 meeting,” Cheveldayoff added. “People began to wonder whether I was involved, which I was not. And it’s evident that the purported meeting took place before [the second] meeting, which did take place on [May 23]. As a result, there was clearly a legal battle. I wasn’t in a position to provide fresh information about a meeting that I was already aware of. So there’s nothing in that [prior] statement that’s untrue or wrong. [I] never had any discussions with Paul Vincent about this.”
On Tuesday, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff promised to work to make the league more inclusive so that incidents like Kyle Beach’s don’t happen again. via AP/Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press
Cheveldayoff expressed regret for not acting differently in the face of what he did know after reading the Jenner & Block report and witnessing Beach disclose himself as “John Doe” during an interview with TSN on Wednesday.
“A system that should have benefited Kyle failed him,” Cheveldayoff said. “However, it did not, and I apologize because my own assumptions about that system were plainly incorrect.”
Cheveldayoff was the only NHL executive present at the May 23 meeting who was still working for the league. Bowman resigned as GM of the Blackhawks when the Jenner & Block report was released, and MacIsaac was also fired. Later that day, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with Quenneville to discuss his role in the incident, and Quenneville resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers.
On Friday, Cheveldayoff met with Bettman in New York, but the commissioner decided the evidence showed his participation in the affair was too minor to justify any penalty.
“Because of his limited power and position, he left the meeting [on May 23] assuming that his managers would examine this problem, and when Aldrich parted ways with the team, he assumed that was what had occurred,” Bettman said Monday.
When questioned afterwards about Cheveldayoff’s lack of accountability, Bettman emphasized the fact that Cheveldayoff was the one who made it known he was even there for the meeting.
Chipman sat next to Cheveldayoff at the news conference on Tuesday and shared similar sentiments about his general manager. The owner grew upset as he shared how he had seen firsthand the repercussions of sexual assault on those close to him. He was certain that if Cheveldayoff had been given additional information, he would have done the proper thing for Beach.
“He was completely unaware of the devastation that had been done to Kyle. He had no way of knowing, “Chipman said. “If he had known, the Kevin Cheveldayoff I know would have intervened and done whatever it needed to ensure Kyle had amazing amounts of support… Kyle’s privacy would have been safeguarded, and the offender would not have been in any position that would have enabled him to hurt anybody else.”
Cheveldayoff promised to work with the league to make it more inclusive so that incidents like Beach’s don’t happen again.
“I believe that everyone pays various rates,” Cheveldayoff stated. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to be someone who can still make a difference in the game and help others develop and learn.”
To that end, Cheveldayoff said he had talked with Sheldon Kennedy, a sexual assault victim, about what might be done to make the game safer in the future. Graham Jones, a junior hockey coach, attacked Kennedy for five years as an adolescent. Since then, Kennedy has been a vocal supporter of survivors.
“When I met with Sheldon, I committed to starting his online training and then having follow-up talks with him about how we can apply it to our business,” Cheveldayoff stated. “I was here with my team, discussing ideas for what we might accomplish. Can we get [Kennedy] to come in as a guest coach for a day… and assist [players] believe that it’s OK if anything happens off the ice, in my life, or if I know someone who is struggling, I can say, “I understand.””
Cheveldayoff spoke with Jets players before heading to New York to meet with Bettman and urged them to read the Jenner & Block report as well as watch Beach’s TSN interview.
Cheveldayoff said, “I stated I wanted an organization that was inclusive in all parts of things.” “I wanted an organization where you could feel free and comfortable to be a member of it, regardless of your ethnicity, sexual orientation, or beliefs… Whether it’s bullying or harassment, whether you believe it’s a coach, manager, trainer, or anybody else in your immediate vicinity, you should feel secure speaking out, asking questions, and knowing there won’t be any repercussions.”
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