Joel Quenneville resigns as head coach of Florida Panthers following meeting with NHL

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Joel Quenneville resigned from his position as head coach of the Florida Panthers following a meeting Thursday afternoon with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the league’s office in New York.

The meeting also included NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Panthers general manager Bill Zito and Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell. According to a statement by the team, Quenneville “tendered his resignation” following the meeting.

Quenneville was coach of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks when assistant video coach Brad Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted a prospect in May 2010, a month before Quenneville helped lead the Blackhawks to the first of three championships during his 10-plus years in Chicago.

Kyle Beach identified himself through an emotional, 25-minute interview on TSN in Canada as “John Doe” in the report completed by law firm Jenner & Block earlier this week. The report said Quenneville and former team president John McDonough wanted to keep the focus on the team during their playoff run despite becoming aware that Beach reported the sexual encounter with Aldrich to skills coach Paul Vincent and mental skills coach Jim “Doc” Gary.

“There’s absolutely no way (Quenneville) can deny knowing it,” Beach told TSN.

Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville watches from the bench behind his players during the second period against the Boston Bruins at FLA Live Arena.

Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville watches from the bench behind his players during the second period against the Boston Bruins at FLA Live Arena.

“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,” Caldwell said in a statement announcing Quenneville’s resignation.

“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.

“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.”

Beach told TSN he became aware that conversations took place about the incident in Quenneville’s office and that word spread around the locker room quickly. He said he became the subject of anti-gay comments from teammates and other members of the organization. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a 22-year-old captain in 2010, said he never heard any bullying directed at Beach and the first he heard of the alleged assault was during training camp the following fall.

“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.”

Former Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac, another front office member, stepped aside from their roles once the report’s findings became public. The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”

“The National Hockey League agrees with the decision tonight by Joel Quenneville to resign his duties as head coach of the Florida Panthers,” Bettman said in a statement.

“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 coach.”

No action was taken against Aldrich for three weeks – when he signed a separation agreement after celebrating the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup victory, according to the report.

In his last performance review for Aldrich, dated June 29, 2010, Quenneville wrote: “Aldrich did a great job for the Coaching staff in preparing us for all of our meetings and coordinating several tasks that we forward his way. Brad has several people relying on him at the same moment and has a way of deflecting and accommodating everyone at once … Congrats on winning the Stanley Cup!”

The review wasn’t signed, but Quenneville did not dispute he could have written the evaluation; congratulating staff members on the championship was typical in his performance reviews after that season, the report said.

“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,” Bettman said in his statement.

Quenneville was behind the bench for the Panthers’ 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday but did not speak to the media afterward. Florida general manager Bill Zito instead read a prepared statement and did not take questions:

“As an organization, we commend Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward this evening to bring to light the pain he endured during his time in Chicago,” Zito said. “Information that has recently become available is deeply troubling. There’s no question the events described in (Tuesday’s) report are serious and severe. We are working closely with the (NHL) to assist with the ongoing process and with respect to that will not comment further until after the commissioner’s meeting (Thursday) with Joel.”

Quenneville, 63, won the 1995-96 Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche and next season became the coach of the St. Louis Blues. He coached 593 games with the Blues and made the playoffs in every season before being fired with 21 games left in 2003-04.

Following the 2004-05 lockout, the Ontario, Canada, native returned to Colorado, this time as head coach for three years (two playoff appearances). In his first season with the Blackhawks, 2008-09, the team went to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Quenneville won his first Stanley Cup as head coach in 2010. The Blackhawks won two more Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) and missed the playoffs for the first time in his tenure in 2017-18. Fifteen games into the next year, he was fired and took over as Panthers coach for the start of the 2019-20 season. The Panthers made the playoffs in his first two seasons and are 7-0 to start this year. Quenneville’s 969 victories are second-most all time.

“We thank the Panthers’ organization for working with us to ensure that a thorough process was followed,” Bettman said. “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.”

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joel Quenneville resigns as Panthers coach after Blackhawks report



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