An external review of the NHLPA and Donald Fehr’s handling of Kyle Beach’s allegations found no wrongdoing

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An investigation independently commissioned by the NHL Players Association found no “individual misconduct or institutional failures of policy or procedure” by their executive director Donald Fehr or others in dealing with Kyle Beach’s allegations of sexual assault against then-Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 revealed .

The 20-page review, shared by the NHLPA on its social media channels on Friday and prepared by Toronto-based law firm Cozen O’Connor, found that it was in the process of the NHLPA’s handling of Beach’s allegations Disorders of miscommunication and misunderstandings concluded that there was no evidence of “an individual or systemic failure”.

“After a thorough review of contemporary records,” Cozen O’Connor’s said in his report, “the policies and practices adopted at the [players’] Union at the time and the memories of all parties involved in the contacts with the NHLPA or the SABH program, we cannot identify any individual wrongdoing or institutional failure of the policies or procedures of Fehr, NHLPA employees, or the SABH program regarding the handling of Beaches To report.”

Cozen O’Connor said his review of the union’s handling of Beach’s allegations “included reviewing thousands of emails, relevant phone records, control documents and guidelines for the SABH [Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health] program and NHL hotline, as well as interviews with 11 people.” However, both Beach and an unidentified former Blackhawks player who said he had inappropriate conversations with Aldrich declined to be interviewed by Cozen O’Connor.

Each of the NHL’s 32 team player representatives received a copy of the investigation earlier this week, and that group subsequently voted to release the results.

The investigation into the union’s role and how it could have better supported Beach stems from his initial allegations that he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Beach, 32, filed a negligence lawsuit against Chicago last summer that was settled in December. Previously, in October 2021, the Blackhawks released the results of their independent investigation into Beach’s allegations, conducted by the law firm Jenner & Block.

That report included details about Fehr and his response to Beach’s allegations at the time they were made. The NHLPA then commissioned its own investigation into Fehr’s actions.

Cozen O’Connor said the NHLPA’s view of the core disputes was “strongly conflicting accounts” from Fehr and player agent Bob Gurney of a conversation they had about Beach’s allegations and a conversation between Dr. Brian Shaw [a psychologist, and program administrator with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program] and beach.

According to the company, Gurney said he called Fehr in late December 2010 after Beach informed him that Aldrich had been hired by USA Hockey as a video coach in connection with a tournament later that year. Fehr had recently been named NHLPA executive director, and Gurney felt he wanted to know about Beach’s concerns.

Gurney told Cozen O’Connor investigators he was describing Aldrich as either a “pedophile” or a “sex predator,” but didn’t give Fehr details about what allegedly happened between Beach and Aldrich.

Fehr denied to investigators that he recalled the call, as he has since Beach’s allegations first came to light.

“Fehr, a senior attorney, has repeatedly pointed out that Gurney would have remembered this if he had either called Aldrich a pedophile or a sex offender or asked him to contact USA Hockey,” Cozen O’Connor said in his report. “Fehr firmly believes that had the incident been so reported to him, he could not have taken any further action or consented without receiving further details of the alleged incident, including whether Beach would have done the incident.” reported – or was ready to be reported.

Even an “exhaustive review of all Fehr’s e-mails in the same period” revealed no evidence of a conversation with Gurney. This extended to a further review of Fehr’s emails over the next decade, which showed no connection to Gurney. The report also noted that no one who dealt with Fehr on a daily basis recalled ever mentioning Gurney or Beach at the time.

An incident in the Jenner & Block report involving Fehr related to another conversation between him and player agent Joe Resnick. In an April 18, 2011 email included in that investigation, Resnick told Fehr that he was aware that the manager had been made aware of “an incident” involving Beach.

In the interview with Cozen O’Connor, Resnick “did not recall receiving a reply to his email, and our review of Fehr’s emails did not find one.” Resnick also did not recall a follow-up conversation with Fehr.

“Fehr has confirmed to us — as in the Jenner report — that he received the email but did not recall it or follow up with Resnick on the matter,” the report reads. “Similarly, Gurney does not recall speaking to Fehr about Aldrich outside of his December 2010 phone call described in the Jenner report.”

Regarding the conversation between Dr. Shaw and Beach on whether allegations related to Aldrich’s past actions were brought to the attention of USA Hockey, Cozen O’Connor noted that there were misunderstandings.

“All parties involved have managed to walk away from these interactions amid some misunderstanding,” the report said. “Gurney and Beach walked out of their respective conversations believing that someone … had agreed to take responsibility for contacting USA Hockey; Dr was obliged to keep what Beach had told him confidential; Resnick believed he shared his concerns about a coach who was odd, bullying and inappropriate, but not a sexual abuser.

Cozen O’Connor concluded that because of Fehr’s background as a lawyer, he would have known that he would act on serious allegations if they had been brought to his attention.

“Our conclusion,” the report continued, “is further supported by the lack of any evidence that Fehr either recalled the conversation or discussed it with anyone else associated with the NHLPA, including his brother Steven, who is an outside consultant to the NHLPA. This deviation is in complete contradiction to Fehr’s documented practice of routinely and promptly assigning others to pursue matters of much less importance.”

Beach had openly criticized Fehr’s inaction since revealing himself as the John Doe of the case in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead last October.

“I reported every single detail of an individual to the NHLPA that I was subsequently contacted,” Beach told Westhead. “I think two different people spoke to Don Fehr. And turning his back on the players when his only 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, if a player comes up to you and tells you something, whether it’s abuse, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s anything, then you should have the players. back and they definitely didn’t have mine.”

On October 28, 2021, Fehr released his own statement regarding Beach’s ordeal.

“Kyle Beach has had a terrifying experience and has shown real courage in telling his story,” Fehr said in October. “There is no doubt that the system did not support him in his distress, and we are part of that system.” In his media interview, Mr. Beach stated that a few months after the incident, he shared the details of it with someone at the NHLPA what happened to him. He is referring to one of the program doctors [Dr. Brian Shaw, a psychologist, and program administrator] with the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Although this program is confidential between players and doctors, the serious nature of this incident should have prompted further action on our part. The fact that this was not the case was a serious mistake. I’m really sorry and I’m committed to making changes to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

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