NHL enhancing employee training after Blackhawks abuse case

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The National Hockey League announced an enhanced training program for employees at its board of governors meetings Thursday after an investigation uncovered disturbing details of sexual abuse endured by Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach more than a decade ago.

The program for all league and club employees is being created in partnership with Sheldon Kennedy’s Respect Group. Kennedy, an eight-year NHL veteran, has been a leading voice for sexual abuse victims following his own experience being abused by his coach for five years during his time as a junior hockey player.

Executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs Kim Davis laid out four key points in the league’s efforts to address its cultural issues – prevention, reporting, counseling and accountability.

”We all understand that there is a need, both as a business and as a moral imperative, to accelerate our efforts,” she said at a press conference following a presentation to the board in Manalapan, Florida.

The league has faced tough questions over the last two years on the sport’s culture, including the recent revelations surrounding the Blackhawks.

A third-party investigation by an independent law firm found a group of team leaders met to discuss Beach’s allegations on May 23, 2010, in the hours after Chicago advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 19 years.

The firm’s report said there was no evidence anything was done about the accusations after the meeting until then-team president John McDonough contacted the Blackhawks’ director of human resources on June 14, once Chicago had won the title – a delay that violated the organization’s sexual harassment policy.

”It’s going to take all of us pulling on the rope together to achieve our goals,” Kennedy tweeted Thursday. ”Thank you (Kyle Beach) and others for your voice. I am confident the NHL will take a leadership role for the WHOLE hockey ecosystem.”

The league is also partnering with hiring startup Jobwell in hopes of building a more diverse workforce, Davis said.

NOTES: Commissioner Gary Bettman said the board will discuss the Olympics and the Arizona Coyotes’ outstanding debts with the City of Glendale on Friday. … Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said 19 of the league’s 32 teams have been forced to use ”enhanced measures” at different points – in short, returning to last season’s protocols – due to positive COVID-19 cases. … The board voted unanimously to approve Fenway Sports Group’s purchase of a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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