Joel Quenneville resigns as Florida Panthers head coach

Second-winningest coach in NHL history steps down amid Blackhawks sexual assault investigation
Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville from bench during final game, Oct. 27, 2021
Posted at 8:34 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 08:47:40-04

SUNRISE, Fla. — Joel Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers late Thursday, two days after the second-winningest coach in NHL history was among those implicated for not swiftly responding to allegations by a Chicago Blackhawks player of being sexually assaulted by another coach during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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

"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.

Andrew Brunette — an assistant coach under Quenneville in Florida — was hired as the team's interim coach and is expected to make his debut when the unbeaten Panthers play at Detroit on Friday night. Brunette has never been a head coach.

Andrew Brunette introduced by Chicago Blackhawks in 2011
New Chicago Blackhawks player Andrew Brunette smiles during a news conference after he was introduced by the team Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, in Chicago.

Quenneville, 63, was on the bench for Florida's last game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

"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," Quenneville 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."

The investigation determined that Quenneville was among those attending a May 23, 2010, meeting regarding Beach's claims. That was the day Chicago won the Western Conference title and moved into the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago won the Cup that season, the first of three titles the Blackhawks won under Quenneville.

"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 CEO Matt Caldwell said. "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."

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

If they get there, it'll be without him now.