Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville resigned on Thursday amid the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual assault scandal. The 63-year-old coach met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that afternoon to discuss his involvement in the case. A Blackhawks-commissioned investigation found Quenneville and numerous other Chicago senior staffers ignored allegations of a coach sexually assaulting a player during the team's 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Multiple reports indicate Andrew Brunette will serve as the Panthers interim head coach until the team finds an outside replacement.
"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," the Panthers announced in a statement. "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."
Bettman said in a statement "all parties agreed it was no longer appropriate that (Quenneville) continue to serve as Florida's head coach." The commissioner added the NHL won't pursue any further action against Quenneville at the moment, but he might face some if he attempts to get back into the league.
"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."
Quenneville released a statement of his own after his resignation, announcing the move with "deep regret and contrition."
"I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, has suffered," the statement read. "My former team the Blackhawks failed Kyle and I own share of that. I want to reflect on how all this happened and take the time to educate myself on ensuring hockey spaces are safe for everyone."
Former Blackhawks center Kyle Beach accused video coach Brad Aldrich of sexual assault during the team's 2010 Western Conference finals series against the San Jose Sharks. After learning of the allegations, Quenneville met with senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, executive vice president Jay Blunk, assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and team counselor Jim Gary to discuss the incident and their path forward.
Quenneville chose to ignore the incident, with Bowman later telling investigators he "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 Blackhawks eventually won the first of three Stanley Cups under Quenneville that season. Aldrich -- who resigned three weeks later -- remained on the staff throughout the 2010 title run, earning a championship ring, a day with the Stanley Cup and an invitation to the team's banner-raising ceremony the following season.
"Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying -- and this is not a quote, this is my words -- saying that the playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault," Beach, who came forward as Aldrich's victim this week, told TSN on Wednesday. "And I can't believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that."
Bowman and MacIsaac, the lone members of the Blackhawks' senior staff remaining from the 2010 Stanley Cup team, both stepped down shortly after the Blackhawks released their 107-page report on Tuesday. Quenneville, however, was allowed to coach the Panthers on Wednesday, sparking social-media outrage.
How Joel Quenneville was allowed to step behind a NHL bench tonight is beyond me. Given what we've learned in the last 30 hours, there's no reason for him to be working while the league process plays out.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 27, 2021
If Joel Quenneville gets suspended tomorrow for his role in the Blackhawks scandal, couldn't the NHL have just suspended him tonight, pending a hearing?— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 27, 2021
FFS, in 2008 NHL suspended Sean Avery "indefinitely" hours before game for a "sloppy seconds" joke in the locker room.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito and team president Matt Caldwell reportedly accompanied Quenneville to Thursday's meeting. The Quenneville-led Panthers have won their first seven games this season, a feat only 13 teams accomplished before them.
Cheveldayoff will meet with Bettman on Monday.
Quenneville has coached the Blackhawks, Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche over his 25-year career. The 63-year-old won three Stanley Cups over 11 years with the Blackhawks and earned the Jack Adams award -- the NHL's Coach of the Year award -- with the St. Louis Blues in 1999-2000.
With 969 career wins, Quenneville trails only Scotty Bowman (1244) for the most in NHL history. Scotty Bowman is Stan Bowman's father and served as the senior advisor to hockey operations during the 2009-10 season.