Integrity Week: Abuse & Harassment
by staff|14 DEC 2022
When former top NHL prospect Kyle Beach shared his story in 2021, it shook the hockey world to its core. It showed that the status quo is no longer acceptable.

Abuse and harassment – at every level of our sport – must be rooted out. The IIHF has a zero-tolerance policy. It aims to foster a positive, respectful environment that centres the needs and welfare of vulnerable groups, from children just entering the sport to elite athletes under immense pressure.

Players perform their best in a safe, supportive atmosphere. In a team sport where coaches, general managers, and other team employees have authority over their career prospects, there is the potential for abuse if the proper policies, safeguards, and reporting mechanisms are not in place.

Beach’s well-documented story underlines that reality.
Beach was drafted eleventh overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft – ahead of the likes of Erik Karlsson, John Carlson, and Roman Josi. However, during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Canadian forward endured abuse from a team staff member. The former WHL Rookie of the Year with the Everett Silvertips thereafter was unable to achieve his full potential. Suffering from emotional and psychological harm, he never played in the NHL.
Today, the just-retired Beach serves as an assistant coach with Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. The 32-year-old’s new mission is to help other players find joy in the game and avoid going through the darkness he faced during years of silence.

“I think the biggest message that I can give to people is by hiding something, by keeping it a secret, whether it’s happened to you or whether you’ve seen it happen, it’ll only to lead to bigger and worse problems,” Beach said. “It might be you this time, but it might be your little brother or your little sister next time.”
What gives Beach hope is that conversations are taking place, from the IIHF and the NHL to junior hockey and minor hockey. Organizations are spotlighting the wrongness of practices like physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, hazing, forced drinking or drug use, and racism. And players are learning that they have the right and responsibility – as individuals and as a group – to speak up when something bad is happening.

“It’s about getting together in a group and discussing things and sitting down with survivors of all abuses, because there isn’t just one kind of abuse,” Beach said. “Anything can be abuse, from verbal to physical to sexual. The list goes on and on.”

Trinity Western head coach Ben Walter, an ex-NHLer who played three seasons with Beach in Austria, seconds those sentiments. Although much work remains to be done, Walter believes that hockey is trending in a better direction after Beach’s powerful testimony.

“Players in general are going to be more willing to speak out if something if they see something wrong or if they’re not sure about something,” Walter said. “Ask a question or find somebody that you can talk to. That’s where a lot of it is on coaches – first of all, doing the right things and treating their players the right way, but also earning their trust so that they are comfortable coming to us if something happens. I think that we are on the right track. The openness and the ability to talk about all this is what’s doing it.”

Honest talk and meaningful action are essential, because abuse and harassment take a tragic toll. Depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and diminished performance on and off the ice are among the potential results.

Conversely, when players are treated with respect, they learn to treat the people around them with respect as well. That includes teammates, coaches, managers, significant others, and fans, to name just a few. Whether it’s on the ice, in the coach’s office, at the team training facility, in the hotel, or on the bus, hockey must offer a positive, safe environment, free of abuse and harassment.

It’s your reputation, your legacy, and your human rights that are at stake. They matter and are worth standing up for. And the IIHF stands ready to offer protection.

As an ice hockey family, we must work together every day to make this sport as safe for everyone as it possibly can be. The time to take action is now.

Remember: if you hear something, if you see something – say something.

Incidents can be reported via:
IIHF Reporting Form
Email: [email protected]
The IOC hotline:
Phone: +41445622293
Mail to IIHF headquarters: Brandschenkestrasse 50, Postfach 1817, 8027 Zurich, Switzerland
Anonymous reporting is possible.
For reports with an international dimension, the IIHF creates a case that is forwarded to the independent IIHF Ethics Board. The board weighs the preponderance of evidence and decides whether or not to refer the case to the IIHF Disciplinary Board. Appeals can only be made to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) directly.