NHLPA votes in favour of independent investigation into Association’s handling of Kyle Beach matter

The NHLPA future of Donald Fehr, seen here at the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions in September, might be discussed in a call on Monday. (AP/file)

The NHLPA executive board announced Thursday it has voted in favour of conducting an independent review of how the Association handled the 2010 allegations of sexual assault made by Kyle Beach, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect at the time, against then-video coach Brad Aldrich.

The vote comes after Donald Fehr, the NHLPA executive director, recommended on Monday that the union hire outside counsel to conduct a probe during a call with the 32-member board.

“On the NHLPA’s Executive Board call today, Don Fehr recommended that an independent investigation be commenced by outside legal counsel in order to review the NHLPA’s response to the Kyle Beach matter,” a statement released late Monday by the NHLPA read. “The Executive Board is currently voting on this matter.”

The NHLPA meeting came after a bombshell report by Jenner & Block LLP exposed the findings of an investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against Aldrich by John Doe, subsequently revealed to be Beach.

According to the 107-page report, which can be found here, Fehr was contacted twice about allegations connected to Aldrich, including by a Beach confidant. Fehr told investigators he couldn’t recall either conversation, but did not deny that they had occurred.

Beach addressed this and criticized Fehr in his interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead last week.

“I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after,” he said. “I believe two different people talked to Don Fehr. And for him to turn his back on the players when his one job is to protect the players at all costs, I don’t know how that can be your leader. I don’t know how he can be in charge. If that’s what he’s going to do when a player comes to you and tells you something, whether it be abuse, whether it be drugs, whether it be anything, you’re supposed to have the players’ backs and they definitely didn’t have mine.”

In response to the interview, Fehr released a statement acknowledging that the association should have done more to protect Beach.

“Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story. There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system,” Fehr said.

“In his media interview, Mr. Beach stated that several months after the incident he told someone at the NHLPA the details of what happened to him. He is referring to one of the program doctors with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. While this program is confidential between players and the doctors, the grave nature of this incident should have resulted in further action on our part. The fact that it did not was a serious failure. I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making changes to ensure it does not happen again.”

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