If there’s any possible sliver of light in all this Chicago Blackhawk darkness, it’s an awareness that the NHL must take measures to make sure it never happens again.
This type of horror scenario can no longer be handled at the team level, simply because franchise higher-ups can’t be trusted to do the right thing.
Heck, when a player can’t even get justice from his own union, the NHL Players’ Association, something is terribly wrong.
The fact that the coverup lasted 11 years tells you all you need to know about how professional sports organizations care more about product than people.
The victim, Kyle Beach, said as much when he bravely stood up and explained how Chicago’s management and coaching were informed of the sexual attack and did absolutely nothing about it.
That’s why then-GM Stan Bowman and ex-coach Joel Quenneville are out on the street today, even if it took more than a decade for this dirty secret to see that aforementioned light.
Once the dust settles from this particular incident, the NHL and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, should go the greatest length to inform all players communication with the league is a two-way thing.
At the first sign of trouble, skip the team’s coaches, management and ownership (as well as the NHLPA) and go straight to the top. Sound the alarm.
Actually, this regretful situation is nothing new. We’ve seen it happen at Penn State, then with the U.S. Olympic Women’s gymnastics team and right down to a sacred institution like the Boy Scouts.
If nothing else, this should put everyone on high alert that behavior such as this is not acceptable. The first step in preventing this from ever happening again is to make sure teams, and the league, constantly monitor their players’ safety and health.
At the same time, the NHL must be proactive to make its players feel comfortable communicating with people at the highest positions of authority when they do feel uncomfortable in their surroundings.
It’s really the only way to move forward and leave the past behind.
>Flyers’ special teams special
There have been several reasons for the Flyers’ quick start and perhaps most prominent has been the play of their special teams, specifically the penalty kill.
Last season the PK finished 30th (next to last) in the NHL and was a big factor for the Flyers’ failure to reach the playoffs.
This season, heading into Saturday night’s game at Calgary, the Flyers ranked 14th at 84.00 percent.
The addition of players such as Cam Atkinson and Nate Thompson have made a world of difference. And remember this, Kevin Hayes (abdominal surgery) hasn’t even played a game yet.
What else has made the difference when the Flyers are down a man? Well, goaltending for one. Both Carter Hart and Martin Jones have played exceptionally well when the heat is on. Plus, an improved defense bolstered by Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle has settled things down and done a good job clearing traffic away from the crease.
If the Flyers can keep that number right around that 84 mark, it should bode well for their playoff hopes as the season goes along.
>What Flyers deserve Olympic consideration
Offensively, the Flyers are off to one of their quickest starts in team history, with players such as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Atkinson lighting it up on a nightly basis.
Don’t look now but the Winter Olympics in Beijing are just over three months away.
If Philadelphia continues this torrid pace, Atkinson should be a strong candidate for Team USA. Despite a stellar career, Giroux has never been asked to play for Canada. It would be a nice gesture if that were to happen. Couturier is once again showing the form which won him the Selke Trophy two seasons ago.
One would think Ivan Provorov might be in the mix for Russia, which doesn’t have a ton of top-notch defensemen. Maybe Rasmus Ristolainen has a shot on the defense corps for Finland. In all, it will be interesting to see how many players from the Flyers participate in the NHL’s return to the Olympics after a hiatus from the South Korea Games in 2018.
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