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Joel Quenneville resigns as Panthers coach

The second-winningest coach in NHL history has been implicated for not swiftly responding to sexual-assault allegations by a Blackhawks player in 2010.
Joel Quenneville looks on from the bench during a Panthers game against the Avalanche on Oct. 21 in Sunrise.
Joel Quenneville looks on from the bench during a Panthers game against the Avalanche on Oct. 21 in Sunrise. [ JIM RASSOL | AP ]
Published Oct. 29, 2021

SUNRISE — Joel Quenneville resigned as coach of the Panthers on Thursday, two days after the second-winningest coach in NHL history was among those implicated for not swiftly responding to allegations by a Blackhawks player in 2010 of being sexually assaulted by an assistant coach.

The announcement was made shortly after Quenneville met with commissioner Gary Bettman in New York to discuss his role in what happened in Chicago during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, when forward Kyle Beach said he was sexually assaulted by then-assistant Brad Aldrich.

“Joel made the decision to resign, and the Florida Panthers accepted that resignation,” Panthers president Matthew Caldwell said.

Related: Ex-Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach says he’s ‘John Doe’ in sex assault case

Former player Andrew Brunette was named interim coach.

Betman said in a statement that after meeting with Quenneville, “all parties agreed that it was no longer appropriate that he continue to serve as Florida’s head coach.”

With Quenneville stepping down, there is no need for further action against him, Bettman said. But if Quenneville wishes to take another NHL job in the future, he will have have to meet with the commissioner “to determine the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place.”

Quenneville, 63, said in a statement that he resigned “with deep regret and contrition.”

“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,” he said. “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.”

An investigation released Tuesday said Quenneville, who coached Chicago from October 2008 to November 2018, and others in the Blackhawks organization did not prioritize addressing Beach’s allegations, presumably because they did not want to take away from the team’s push toward a Stanley Cup championship.

Related: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman resigns after sexual assault probe

Chicago won the Cup that season, the first of three titles it won under Quenneville.

Quenneville has said he was unaware of the allegations until summer of this year, a stance he reiterated as recently as Wednesday morning. Beach, in an interview that aired Wednesday evening on Canada’s TSN TV network, said there was “absolutely no way” that Quenneville could deny knowing about the allegations.

At 7-0-0, the Panthers are off to their best start in the franchise’s 28 years, looking very much like the Stanley Cup contender that Quenneville was hired in 2019 to build.

Quenneville’s 969 career NHL victories trail only the 1,244 amassed by Scotty Bowman, the father of now-former Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, who resigned Tuesday when the investigation’s findings were released. Stan Bowman, like Quenneville, was among the central figures identified as having not acted properly and swiftly to Beach’s allegations.

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The investigation determined that Quenneville was part of a meeting about Beach’s claims on May 23, 2010, the same day Chicago won the Western Conference title and moved into the Stanley Cup final.

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