Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie react to the findings of the independent report on the NHLPA's role in the Kyle Beach investigation, and whether Donald Fehr should shoulder responsibility.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: But the biggest news, or I guess the biggest news dump was the NHLPA releasing the findings from the investigative report or third party report on its role in the Kyle Beach scandal and saga. It was a news dump. It came after 4:00 PM on a holiday Friday.
And basically, the findings were simple, that the NHLPA, there was not an individual or systemic failure involved here. And instead, the reason why Beach's initial complaint did not get escalated properly was a miscommunication and misunderstanding. A lot of BS jargon.
Basically, the NHLPA and Donald Fehr was able to wipe its hands clean, even though it's still pretty clear, even based on the language and what was in the report, that there was a systemic failure, because it didn't go through the system properly. Something entered the system and got caught up in the system. That in itself is a systemic failure.
And yet Donald Fehr is not going to wear this based on what we learned on Friday. So your thoughts about that?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, the fact that there's a miscommunication and a misunderstanding, doesn't that already imply that there is a systemic failure? I kept reading that quote over and over. And I'm like, am I dumb? Am I not getting this right? This was not communicated correctly. And there was a misunderstanding. Doesn't that mean there was a failure?
I mean, it's clear there was a failure because, Kyle Beach tried to bring up a complaint. It was not heard. And Brad Aldrich was still able to go around and work for other organizations and get recommendation letters and all that. He was still able to go about his life.
It blows my mind that the NHLPA, or however the findings were written out, Donald Fehr should be disciplined for this. Not only that, he'll be able to plan out who is successor could be. He could just slunk out as if nothing went wrong for him.
It's disappointing. And I'm not even going to get into the fact that it was just released on a holiday Friday. And there was a power outage.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: A power outage is what prevented it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You got to be kidding me, bro. You got to be kidding me. This reeks of-- it's sus. It's suspect. It reeks. It stinks. It's something that--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Go to the local Starbucks and file the report at the proper time. I'm sorry. Tech failure is just not an excuse anymore. It's just not, flat out.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Go to Starbucks. Use your phone. Use the 5G. Use a hotspot. Like, a power outage, excuse me? Y'all don't have a backup generator y'all could use?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: 2022. It's 2022.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Does the NHLPA think we're stupid? Does the NHLPA-- does this firm-- does the NHLPA-- do they think we're stupid? And I mean we as in media people, as in fans, as in people who are just into this whole situation. Do they genuinely think we're stupid people and we're just going to take this and think, oh, well, Donald Fehr wasn't at fault here, there's no systemic failure, everything is right as rain when it comes to the Player Association?
And I'll tell you what, man. I'm sure, a player looking at that file can feel very confident, if they ever want to go through the NHLPA or whatever proper channels to report any problem, they could feel with the utmost confidence. I have a hard time thinking a player could feel that after seeing the findings of that.
But hey, you know what? We haven't really-- I don't know whether players or PA reps have actually spoken on this. But for me just reading it and seeing what's been out there, I have a hard time thinking that this is something that should-- the report as it is should stand as it is or that Donald Fehr should be cleared of any wrongdoing-- I have questions.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I mean, it's weird.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Whatever the report says, it's clear that Donald Fehr has run a shoddy organization for a very long time and that it failed Kyle Beach. Let's just call a spade a spade.
It was a complaint that was filed. And it didn't go through the right channels in order to become what it needed to be.
Now, can you blame Donald Fehr for not escalating the issue? Perhaps he knew about it. They couldn't figure out if he knew about it. But it still is on him, because the organization he runs failed beneath him. So that gets escalated to him. And of course, that means that he did not do a good enough job.
You're right. I mean, any player with a complaint, anyone with an issue related to the player population would be better off just writing a tweet. If the group that represents you is not going to do its job and it's going to try to save face and it's going to try to protect its partner that it's supposed to be in the forever tug of war with, that being the NHL, then why wouldn't a player approach its agent and just say, this is what happened, let's get it out in the open, so real people like Katie Strang, like Rick Westhead, and so on and so forth, can just pick up the information that way?
The NHLPA hasn't been there for the players in the way that it needs to be. And if you just go to anyone else, anyone else with a microphone, with a platform, with someone with the ability to amplify your voice, it is more effective or would be more effective than going through the NHLPA. Clearly, this is an example of that.
His organization, Donald Fehr's organization, helped fail Kyle Beach. The Chicago Blackhawks did. Everybody did, we know this. But the NHLPA clearly failed this player and this human being, right along with everybody else. And Donald Fehr should wear that.
Now, you mentioned he's not going to have to wear that. He's going to get through this unscathed. He's going to be able to pick his successor. And I don't think he should have that opportunity. And I wonder why the players haven't-- the 32 representatives or whatever it needs to be haven't stood up and said, hey, we're going to choose the next person, because this guy did not do a good enough job for us.
I'd like to see that. I understand there are bigger things happening right now, in that the majority of these players are involved in playoff races or whatever. But this guy has not done a good job and should not be in a position to pick the next person, because it's probably going to be an extension of them. And therefore, we're going to be in the same situation as we are now, which is the NHLPA doing an inferior job than pretty much everybody else involved in this game.
And that's why Donald Fehr should not be able to pick his next person. And that's why the players should stand up and say, hey, let's make this decision for ourselves.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: There are still a sufficient amount of player reps who are not in playoff races, who are on teams who have been already eliminated from playoff contention that should be finding themselves a copy of this report, if they have not read it already, and just asking questions to the NHLPA on why the report went out the way that it did and came to the conclusion that it did.
I don't know if the fact that the majority of player reps being in playoff races should be any excuse for any players to even ask them-- like, if we get to a point where we're able to be in scrums over the next week and we're able to ask for player reps, whether main or alternate player reps for each team, and we're able to ask, hey, did you read this report, I'd like to hope that the players are either aware of it or, at the very least, are looking to read it or at least have thoughts on what's going on here.
This is a time for them to speak up if they feel that the way the process went is a little bit suspicious or they feel is wrong, essentially. And at the end of the day, even if, through legal reasons or however they were able to find this out, that Donald Fehr, legally, was right to be cleared of any wrongdoing, you have it right. They failed Kyle Beach.
And the PA, the league, everybody needs to ensure that a similar situation never, ever happens again. And at the very least, even if it goes out the way that it did, I hope people across the hockey community will be able to retain that lesson. But I also hope over the next little while, we are able to put Donald Fehr and the NHLPA's feet to the fire on this and continue to ask questions about it.
I know some big media members have been writing articles about it. They obviously dropped this as late as it did. I'd like to talk about it on the CJ show with CJ. This is a story that we have to keep talking about and we have to ask questions about, because it doesn't make sense to me how a player clearly voiced their displeasure. And these allegations that they brought, which were-- they went out the way that they did.
And somehow, an independent firm deems that there was no systemic failure in how all of this was handled. It doesn't make sense to me. I can't compute it right. You can tell me all the legal stuff. I'm still going to look at you blank-faced and just say, I don't get it.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I was mentioning earlier, I failed to mention the best example of the best way to amplify your own voice being social media and not through the channels that the NHL and the NHLPA has provided. Akim Aliu. No one was listening to Akim Aliu before he started a Twitter thread.
And what happened when he put what happened to him out there into the world? We saw change. We saw punishment. We saw consequence when he shared his story to a platform that was more public, that other people could grasp onto.
When he first-- I don't know this for fact. But I'm assuming he had conversations behind the scenes about what happened to him and was ignored or wasn't taken as seriously as he should have been. But the moment it went out on social media, that's when something happened.
So to suggest that the NHLPA is a more powerful tool than just the Twitter account of these players is completely false. And Beach, Aliu, all these guys are examples of that. The NHLPA has to be better. It has to be something that players can rely on. And clearly, under the Fehr regime, it was not. And it won't be if he gets to hand-pick his successor, because guess what, that successor, in all likelihood, has been working in direct tandem with Fehr this entire time.
So how is anything--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: At the very least--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: How is anything going to change?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: At the very least, if Fehr is allowed to pick his successor, we are allowed to be skeptical that the successor that is put in place-- we're allowed to be skeptical about whether or not they are able to implement real change within the PA and be someone that players can genuinely look to.
Also on that list of Twitter accounts-- I mean, I know it's an account. I don't think it's active anymore. But a guy like Robin Lehner, when he was more active on social media, that's someone who used that to his ability. And I wonder how much--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: He saw that it's essential.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Exactly. It's a bit ridiculous. And I feel for the players in that situation where the PA might not appear to be the most reliable thing for them in some aspects compared to what writing a 280-character tweet could do. It's a bit bananas. It's wild.