Quenneville resigns as Panthers coach, named in Blackhawks investigation
Joel Quenneville resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers on Thursday after being implicated in an independent investigation into the Chicago Blackhawks for allegations by former player Kyle Beach of sexual assault by then-video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.
Quenneville coached the Blackhawks for 11 seasons beginning in 2008 and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2010, 2013 and 2015 before being fired Nov. 6, 2018. The 63-year-old was in his third season with the Panthers.
"The National Hockey League agrees with the decision tonight by Joel Quenneville to resign his duties as head coach of the Florida Panthers," NHL Commissioner Gary 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 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."
The Panthers said an interim coach announcement is forthcoming.
"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," Panthers president and CEO Matt Caldwell said 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."
Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Jenner & Block LLP, released the findings of his firm's independent investigation into the allegations Tuesday, and the NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million "for the organization's inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters related" to the alleged encounter. Commissioner Bettman also announced he wanted to meet with Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was Blackhawks assistant GM at the time.
Quenneville issued a statement following the Panthers announcement.
"With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers," Quenneville said. "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 ae safe for everyone."
According to Schar's findings, Quenneville was among six individuals then with Blackhawks senior management who met May 23, 2010, to discuss the alleged sexual assault, which occurred May 8 or 9, 2010. Also present to hear a report from mental skills coach and team counselor Jim Gary, who had spoken with Beach, were then-Blackhawks president John McDonough, then-senior vice president Jay Blunk, then-GM Stan Bowman, then-senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, and Cheveldayoff.
The meeting took place within an hour of Chicago defeating the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final to advance to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
"One witness recalled that during the meeting, Mr. McDonough and coach Quenneville made comments about the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup Final and a desire to focus on the team and the playoffs," Schar said. "What is clear is, after being informed of Aldrich's alleged sexual harassment and misconduct with the player, no action was taken for three weeks."
Quenneville and Cheveldayoff were the only individuals who attended that meeting who were working in the NHL after Bowman resigned and MacIsaac was let go by the Blackhawks on Tuesday. McDonough was fired by Chicago on April 27, 2020. Blunk and Gary left the Blackhawks this offseason.
Cheveldayoff is scheduled to meet with Commissioner Bettman within days.
Quenneville is second in coaching wins in NHL history, behind Scotty Bowman (1,244), with a record of 969-572-150 with 77 ties in 25 seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Blackhawks and Panthers. Florida qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of its first two seasons under Quenneville and is 7-0-0 this season.
Beach on Wednesday came forward as the player at the center of the investigation into the allegations against Aldrich and the Blackhawks. The No. 11 pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, Beach, now 31, never played in the NHL. He was 20 years old at the time of the alleged incident.
"It's a big step for me, my process of recovery, as I process the events that happened and as I truly deal with the underlying issues that I have from them," Beach said. "For me, I wanted to come forward and put my name on this. To be honest, it's already out there. The details were pretty accurate in the report, and it's been figured out. More than that, I've been a survivor, I am a survivor. And I know I'm not alone."
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