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Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Wayne Simmonds, left, battles for the puck with Detroit Red Wings centre Dylan Larkin during first-period action at the Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 30, 2021.Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Wayne Simmonds, the toughest customer on the Toronto Maple Leafs, said Wednesday that his eyes teared up as he watched Kyle Beach’s interview with Rick Westhead on TSN last week.

Beach, a former minor-league player in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, shed his anonymity and provided details about how he was allegedly sexually assaulted by video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 playoffs.

The club’s first-round draft pick two years earlier reported the incident but the team suppressed it because it feared that it would ruin their players’ chemistry during that year’s Stanley Cup run.

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Simmonds said it has shaken his faith in the leadership of the NHL Players’ Association, which also failed to conduct an investigation when it was forwarded information at the time.

“First of all, I want to offer my condolences to Kyle Beach,” Simmonds said after practice Wednesday. “Everything that happened is heartbreaking. This is something that is systemic. I find that in the NHL when something bad happens guys ... are afraid to speak up because of the repercussions. That is something that definitely has to change. It’s unacceptable.

“I feel everyone must be held accountable in the NHL and the NHLPA. There are no excuses. This can’t just be another fleeting moment that is here now and gone tomorrow.”

Beach has filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks for failing to act on his accusations and for emotional damage. A second lawsuit has also been filed by a former high-school player in Michigan who was criminally assaulted by Aldrich, then a volunteer coach, after he left the Hawks.

The lawsuits led to an investigation by a Chicago law firm, which generated a shocking report into the Hawks’ cover-up of the incident.

“As a hockey community there is a lot to take in there, and a lot to be ashamed about,” said Morgan Rielly, an alternate captain for Toronto. “I think we as a group would be remiss if we did not step back and analyze what we could do to create the proper resources to prevent this from happening again.”

Rielly said players have been discussing it in small groups and in large gatherings. Chicago’s failures led to resignations from general manager Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville, who was the team’s head coach at the time.

The Block & Jenner report found that the allegations were discussed among senior executives and Quenneville, who worried that it would divert his team’s focus.

“Everybody is shaken by what’s happened and it is causing everyone to take a deep look into how we cannot have problems like this moving forward,” said Jason Spezza, the Maple Leafs’ oldest veteran at 38.

Spezza said he, too, saw Beach’s interview and called it “extremely difficult to watch.”

Alexander Kerfoot, who is the team’s representative to the NHLPA, took part in a call with executive director Donald Fehr on Monday. Player representatives from all 32 teams participated and queried Fehr about how the situation was handled.

The player representatives are expected to vote on whether a third-party investigation should be launched into the NHLPA’s executives.

“We are all having discussions internally to find out where things went wrong, where we could do better, and where we can improve the systems in place so something like this doesn’t happen again. We are never going to be able to take back what happened to Kyle but we can learn from it and grow from it. He is a player, just like any of us. It could have happened to anyone. The conversations are ongoing.”

Beach said that Aldrich also threatened him physically and told him he could ruin his chance of ever playing in the NHL.

“It’s incredibly saddening,” said Simmonds, 32. “I was in the league back then and it rips my heart out to see what he has gone through.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. People shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth without fear of repercussion.”