Sharks’ assistant coach was interviewed as part of probe into Blackhawks’ scandal

SAN JOSE – Sharks assistant coach John Madden, a member of the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks team, said in a statement Thursday that he was interviewed as part of the investigation into an alleged sexual assault by then-team video coach Brad Aldrich.

An investigation by the firm Jenner & Block that was commissioned by the Blackhawks and released Tuesday stated that the organization mishandled allegations made by the player, revealed to be Kyle Beach in a televised interview by TSN in Canada on Wednesday.

After the report was released, Stan Bowman resigned as the Blackhawks’ general manager and president of hockey operations, and Al MacIsaac, another top executive, also stepped down. The NHL also fined the team $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”

Madden, who declined to take questions from local media, stated that he was contacted by investigators from Jenner & Block in August and subsequently spoke with attorneys from the firm for approximately one hour, adding that he “shared any and all recollections I had from the timeframe in question.

“While it was important for me to participate fully and transparently in their investigation, I am not going to comment publicly on the nature of those discussions.”

“The allegations that have been made related to this investigation are both disturbing and heartbreaking. My hope is that Kyle and all those who have been impacted can now find some peace and closure.”

Beach said in the TSN interview that he believed everyone in the Blackhawks’ locker room knew about the encounter with Aldrich, the son of Sharks equipment manager Mike Aldrich.

“Word spread pretty quick,” Beach said. “I do believe that everyone in that locker room knew about it.

“Because the comments were made in the locker room, they were made on the ice, they were made around the arena with all different people of all different backgrounds – players, staff, media in the presence.”

Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton, also part of that 2009-2010 Blackhawks team, had also said in prior interviews that they believed everyone on the Blackhawks roster knew about the incident. Other players from that Blackhawks team such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith have said publicly they did not know about the alleged incident until much later.

Jenner & Block’s report stated that they interviewed 139 witnesses, including current and former Blackhawks’ personnel, with several witnesses interviewed more than once.

Also, the firm spoke with 21 current and former Blackhawks players and Rockford IceHogs players, including John Doe, Aldrich, and individual players and personnel “who were directly involved in the events.”

Madden signed with the Blackhawks as a free agent in July 2009 after he spent 10 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. That was his only season in Chicago, as he signed with the Minnesota Wild in July 2010. A three-time Cup winner as a player, Madden’s final season in the NHL was with the Florida Panthers in 2011-2012.

The Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block to conduct the probe, which came in response to two lawsuits filed against the team. One was by Beach, initially identified in court documents as John Doe, who alleged the sexual assault by Aldrich in 2010. Another suit was filed by a former student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan.

The report stated that a sexual encounter occurred between Beach and Aldrich on May 8 or 9, 2010. Beach told investigators that Aldrich threatened him with a souvenir baseball bat before he forcibly performed oral sex on him and masturbated on the player’s back. Aldrich told investigators the encounter was consensual.

Beach also said in court documents that he heard some Blackhawks players use homophobic slurs.

“Reliving this and having to dig back to those memories for the investigation, for the lawsuit, having to tell my story over and over has not been easy,” Beach said. “It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, but at the same time, it’s a huge step I realize now in the healing process.”

Blackhawks executives discussed the incident on May 23, 2010, after Chicago had beaten San Jose in the Western Conference Final, but former team president John McDonough informed the team’s director of human resources about the allegations until June 14.

“Your heart goes out to the kid in that situation. Obviously, you don’t want to see that in our game,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “There’s a lot of lessons to be learned.”

“It’s pretty devastating to hear the details of what he went through,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said of Beach. “You definitely feel for him and hopefully this will let him heal. It’s not a situation that anyone wants to deal with, especially in this game. Hopefully, something like that never happens again.”

Asked how Mike Aldrich has been coping with these allegations involving his son, Boughner said he didn’t want to “get into anything on what goes on in our four walls there. We’re family. We’re trying to offer as much support to each other as possible in this situation, and I’ll leave it at that.”

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Author: Curtis Pashelka