Politics

Panthers coach Joel Quenneville resigns in wake of Blackhawks abuse case

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Joel Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers on Thursday night after questions were raised about his response to an alleged sexual assault during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Quenneville was Chicago’s head coach in 2010 when Kyle Beach maintains he was sexually assaulted by then-Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.

“With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers,” Quenneville said in a statement. “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.”

Assistant coach Andrew Brunette will take over as the Panthers’ interim head coach, the team announced.

A report on the Blackhawks’ internal investigation into the alleged sexual assault was released this week, resulting in general manager Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac leaving the organization.

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Bowman reportedly told investigators that Quenneville, when informed of Beach’s allegations in 2010, “shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get to where they were (the playoffs) and they could not deal with this issue now.”

The Panthers said in a statement, in part, “It should go without saying that the conduct described in (the Blackhawks’) 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.

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“Following a meeting today with Commissioner Bettman at National Hockey League offices, which was part of the league’s process to decide how to move forward, Joel made the decision to resign and the Florida Panthers accepted that resignation.”

According to ESPN, Panthers president Matt Caldwell and general manager Bill Zito joined Quenneville in the meeting with Bettman.

Bettman said in a statement, “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 the 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 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.”

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Beach told TSN on Wednesday, “I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to (former team mental skills coach) James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it and there’s absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that, to somebody who served his organization and his team so well.”

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Quenneville, 63, led the Blackhawks to Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Fired in Chicago during the 2018-19 season, he joined Florida for the 2019-20 campaign.

The Panthers are off to the best start in franchise history, 7-0-0, ahead of a Friday road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Brunette, 48, played 16 seasons in the NHL with six franchises. He has no previous head-coaching experience.

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