New York Islanders captain Anders Lee didn’t miss a beat when he was posed with the difficult question of his thoughts on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault investigation that prompted “John Doe” to reveal himself as Kyle Beach on Wednesday.
The findings of the investigation, which was released on Tuesday, stated that the Blackhawks had failed to act on Beach’s allegations that video coach Brad Aldrich had sexually assaulted him — just a 20-year-old prospect at the time — during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“My heart goes out to Kyle and his family and commend him greatly for speaking up about this,” Lee said after Islanders practice on Thursday afternoon. “No one should have to go through a situation like that… You don’t ever want to see that kind of situation evolve into what happened.
“Whatever we can do as a group, everywhere, to make sure these things don’t happen again, we’re trying to create something here with a lot of open dialogue where people feel safe.”
A true showing of leadership and a masterclass that the likes of Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane or Duncan Keith — veteran members of the Blackhawks who were a part of that 2010 team who have shied away from any responsibility — should take.
Such poise is nothing new for the Islanders captain, who has handled himself well when it comes to touchy subjects; though none as harrowing as this.
The situation was equally as disturbing to Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz.
“You could see it was very emotional. My heart reaches out to him,” Trotz said. “Any young man should never have to go through it… Doesn’t matter if it’s the NHL, AHL… all minor hockey, all that. Our goal as coaches, players staff, all that is to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That’s all. We can’t fix it, we just have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Following the release of the investigation, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac left their positions.
The Islanders defeated the Blackhawks 4-1 on Oct. 19 and don’t play them again until Dec. 5 at UBS Arena.