SUNRISE (Fla.) -- Joel Quenneville resigned as Florida Panthers coach on Thursday. This comes two days after Joel Quenneville, the second-winningest NHL coach, was accused of failing to respond quickly to claims made by a Chicago Blackhawks player that Quenneville had sexually assaulted him by another coach during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Quenneville made the announcement shortly after meeting with Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner in New York, to discuss his role in Blackhawks' response on Kyle Beach's allegations that he had been sexually assaulted while working as an assistant for Brad Aldrich.
Bettman stated that while Kyle Beach is an admirable individual for his courage and willingness to come forward, he was also poorly supported in his initial claim as well as in the subsequent 11 years. He said that he regrets all he has been through.
Andrew Brunette, a former assistant coach under Quenneville from Florida, was appointed as the interim coach. He is expected to make his debut on Friday night when the Panthers face Detroit. Brunette is not a former head coach.
Quenneville quit with just three years and $15 millions remaining on his contract with Panthers. Quenneville stated that he had resigned with "deep regret and contrition" in a statement to TSN.
"I am sorry for the loss that Kyle Beach has endured. Quenneville stated that Kyle was failed by his former team, The Blackhawks. "I want to reflect upon all this and learn how to ensure that hockey spaces are safe for everyone.
Bettman stated that he was in agreement with Quenneville's decision not to resign. Bettman stated that Quenneville would have to be rehired if he ever wishes to return to the NHL.
"Joel made the decision that he would resign, and the Florida Panthers accepted his resignation," Matthew Caldwell, Panthers President, stated.
It's likely that the fallout is not over. Bettman will meet with Kevin Cheveldayoff (General Manager Winnipeg Jets), Friday. Cheveldayoff was also a Blackhawks employee when Beach made the allegations.
The NHL Coaches Association stated that Joel Quenneville had made the decision to resign from his position with Florida Panthers. "This is just one step of a long journey that we must all take together, one that will include learning from the extremely painful experiences of Kyle Beach."
A Tuesday investigation found that Quenneville, who was Chicago's coach at the time, and other Blackhawks employees did not prioritise addressing Beach's allegations. This is likely because they didn't want to hinder the team's efforts toward a championship.
Quenneville claimed he didn't know about the allegations until last summer, a position he repeated Wednesday morning. In an interview on Wednesday evening, Beach stated that Quenneville knew nothing about the allegations.
Quenneville was allowed to coach Wednesday night by the Panthers. This game started just over an hour after Beach's interview. The team was already conducting an investigation to determine what to do next.
Bettman stated, "We thank the Panthers’ organization for working alongside us to ensure that an thorough process was followed."
The Panthers are at 7-0-0 and look very similar to the Stanley Cup contender Quenneville was hired to build in 2019.
They will get there without him, if they do. On Wednesday, players insisted that their attention was on the ice. Some of the team's leaders, like Aleksander Barkov, captain, and Aaron Ekblad defenseman, said that they didn't know anything about the investigation or the huge fallout.
Caldwell stated, "It should be obvious that the conduct described by that report is troubling. It is in direct contradiction to the values of our organization and the Florida Panthers. Kyle Beach's experience in Chicago and the years that followed should not be repeated.
Caldwell said, "Quite simply, it was he failed." We are proud of his courage and bravery in coming forward."
Quenneville is the second-winningest NHL coach, with his 969 wins trailing only Scotty Bowman's 1,244 victories. Stan Bowman, the father of the Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman resigned Tuesday after the investigation's findings became public.
An investigation revealed that Quenneville was present at a May 23, 2010, meeting concerning Beach's claims. This was the day Chicago took home the Western Conference title. The Cup was won by Chicago that season, which was the first of three titles Quenneville's Blackhawks won.
Beach stated that Stan Bowman had quoted Joel Quenneville, saying that "the playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs, and trying to win the Stanley Cup were more important than sexual assault." Beach spoke with TSN. "I can't believe it. "As a human being, that is impossible for me to believe and that I can't accept."
On Friday, Florida will play at Detroit. The goal is to be the fifth and seventh NHL teams to start a season with eight consecutive wins. It has been done by the Toronto Maple Leafs (1934-35) and the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs (2006), as well as the 1976-76 and 200607 Buffalo Sabres (2006-07), and the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens (2015-16).