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Joel Quenneville resigns as head coach of Panthers

Michael Smith goes in on the Chicago Blackhawks, who he feels prioritized success over the safety of Kyle Beach, the former NHL player who is alleging he was sexually assaulted in 2010 by a team video coach.

Joel Quenneville is out as head coach of the Florida Panthers.

The team announced on Thursday that Quenneville has resigned following the damning report from the Chicago Blackhawks that highlighted the organization’s response to sexual assault allegations directed at former video coach Brad Aldrich.

On Wednesday, former Blackhawks first-round draft pick Kyle Beach came forward as “John Doe” in the lawsuit.

Quenneville issued the following statement on Thursday night:

“With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers. I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, has suffered. My former team the Blackhawks failed Kyle and I own my share of that. I want to reflect on how all of this happened and take the time to educate myself on ensuring hockey spaces are safe for everyone.”

Andrew Brunette will take over as the Panthers’ head coach on an interim basis.

Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell issued the following statement in a team press release:

After the release of the Jenner & Block investigative report on Tuesday afternoon, we have continued to diligently review the information within that report, in addition to new information that has recently become available. It should go without saying that the conduct described in that report is troubling and inexcusable. It stands in direct contrast to our values as an organization and what the Florida Panthers stand for. No one should ever have to endure what Kyle Beach experienced during, and long after, his time in Chicago. Quite simply, he was failed. We praise his bravery and courage in coming forward.

Quenneville was head coach of the Blackhawks during the 2009-10 season and was involved in a meeting, along with several high-ranking executives in the organization, where the incident was first discussed. The independent investigation found that no action was taken for more than three weeks as the team continued to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Quenneville was specifically mentioned as wanting to keep the focus on hockey.

Then-Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, who resigned from Chicago and Team USA on Tuesday, recalled that Quenneville shook his head and said it was hard for the team to get to the Stanley Cup Final and could not deal with the issue at that moment, according to the report.

Despite the findings in the report, the Panthers still allowed Quenneville to coach in Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins, a decision that was harshly criticized around the league.

Quenneville was in New York on Thursday to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and hours later submitted his resignation.

Bettman also issued a statement on Thursday night, saying in part that if Quenneville wants to work in the NHL in any capacity a meeting with the commissioner will be required to “determine the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place.”

“The National Hockey League agrees with the decision tonight by Joel Quenneville to resign his duties as head coach of the Florida Panthers. In his former role as Chicago Blackhawks head coach, Mr. Quenneville was among several former members of the Club’s senior leadership group who mishandled the 2010 sexual assault claim by former player Kyle Beach against the Club’s then-video coach, Brad Aldrich. And, following a meeting with Mr. Quenneville that took place this afternoon in my office, all parties agreed that it was no longer appropriate that he continue to serve as Florida’s head coach.

“I admire Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward, am appalled that he was so poorly supported upon making his initial claim and in the 11 years since, and am sorry for all he has endured.

“We thank the Panthers’ organization for working with us to ensure that a thorough process was followed. Given the result, there is no need for any further action by the NHL regarding Mr. Quenneville at this time. However, should he wish to re-enter the League in some capacity in the future, I will require a meeting with him in advance in order to determine the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place.”

Current Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Chevelaydoff was an assistant general manager with the Blackhawks at the time and will have a meeting with Bettman on Friday.

Quenneville had been the head coach of the Panthers since the start of the 2019-20 season.