Content Warning for Sexual Assault
By: Nathan Strauss | Follow him on Twitter @NathanPStrauss
It seems like the Bruins are saying and doing all the right things. The way the hockey world has reacted to Kyle Beach’s interview in the last week has been generally positive. Aside from certain players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who decided to kowtow to members in the Hawks’ organization who aided and abetted in the covering up of Beech’s trauma, many current players have come out and produced rebukes of the handling of Beach’s case and support for Beach himself. While the reaction of players and teams has varied, the Bruins camp had been relatively quiet, spare for Taylor Hall’s scathing indictment of the NHL as “an old boy’s club,” that changed when Brandon Carlo addressed the media on Tuesday.
Brandon Carlo is the Bruins’ NHLPA representative, meaning he formed part of the group which met on Monday to discuss the options for a review into NHLPA executive Donald Fehr’s actions and lack thereof, as well as and the organization as a whole. The Jenner and Block report showed that Fehr’s inaction was one of many facets that hurt Kyle Beach by not pursuing pathways to protect him. Fehr is part of a group with now-former Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, and Stan Bowman. Their actions were at best morally reprehensible and at worst felonious.
Brandon Carlo said that the Bruins watched Kyle Beach’s interview with Rick Westhead in which Beach identified himself as John Doe together as a team. “[Bruce Cassidy] thought it was important, and Bergy, I think they had a little discussion…I think it was a great thing for all of us to do. It was very courageous of (Beach) to come out and do all of this. He’s not doing it for no reason. He’s doing it to put a stop to things like this. Once you see it, you see the emotion involved with it and understand that things like this do happen. His message was also very clear that you don’t have to be alone in it. That was huge to see and very powerful, and it was great that we all watched it. But it was also tough to watch.”
As far as we have heard, the Bruins watching the interview as a team is unique across the league. It exemplifies what you would hope to see from your hometown club: togetherness, a commitment to bettering the league’s current structures and resources, and support for Kyle Beach and others who have been victimized at the hands of league personnel and procedures.
Everyone should want their team to act as ethically as possible and for individual players to demonstrate their own set of morals too. That is why it was frustrating when Jeremy Jacobs was the only team owner to refuse to commit to paying employees at the onset of the Covid pandemic or when various Bruins legends have expressed opinions that are counterproductive to the overall betterment of the league. However, hearing Brandon Carlo talk about the team coalescing to watch what was quite frankly a gut-wrenching video and understanding that Bruce Cassidy and Patrice Bergeron believed it to be the right thing to do does give me hope. Carlo as the NHLPA representative, Bergeron as the captain, and Cassidy as the coach all have different roles but seem to be taking the same approach, which is to have difficult conversations.
The obstacles to making the NHL a more inclusive space are substantial and reflect a more pervasive issue: the toxicity of hockey culture from the top down. The fact that the NHL admitted that they do not even have the policy to deal with incidents of sexual assault is shocking, and the links between how Kyle Beach has been treated and the general culture of silence and maintaining norms should not be ignored. (For more on this subject, I recommend Jashvina Shah and Evan Moore’s new book Game Misconduct.) However, it seems like the Bruins are off to a good start and are fostering discussions about how they can do their part in improving the culture of the game we all love.