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Joel Quenneville Out as Panthers Head Coach

Joel Quenneville has resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers in the wake of the independent investigation commissioned by the Chicago Blackhawks into allegations against a former team video coach.
Joel Quenneville

Joel Quenneville has resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers. 

The news came through late on Thursday night, hours after Quenneville concluded his meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the league head office in New York City to discuss his role in covering up the sexual assault committed by Brad Aldrich on Kyle Beach in 2010 while he was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. 

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Andrew Brunette is expected to be named interim coach in Florida.

"With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers," Quenneville said in a statement. "I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, 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 are safe for everyone."

Quenneville lied. Publicly, and on full display. Now, he faces the consequences for those lies.   

In an official statement released on July 13th, 2021, Quenneville said that he was not aware of the allegations against Aldrich at the time, stating, "I first learned of these allegations through the media this summer." 

That turned out to be untrue.

Quenneville was not only aware of the allegations back in May of 2010, but he played an active role in sweeping them under the rug in order to preserve the Blackhawks' postseason success. 

According to the report released by law firm Jenner & Block on Tuesday, upon learning of the allegations against Aldrich, Quenneville, "shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get where they are and they could not deal with this (the allegations) now". 

Additionally, the former head of human resources for the Blackhawks stated in her interview that she believes she personally told Quenneville that Aldrich had been let go from the organization after it happened. 

Aldrich had previously met with that same HR head, along with outside counsel, shortly after the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory and was presented with the options of either resigning from the organization or submitting to an internal investigation. Aldrich chose the former, and yet was allowed to participate in numerous team-sanctioned celebratory activities including attending the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup parade, in close proximity to Beach. 

Speaking to TSN's Rick Westhead on Wednesday evening, Beach himself left no doubt as to whether Quenneville's supposed ignorance was genuine. 

"I witnessed meetings right after I reported [the assault] to James Gary (the Blackhawks mental skills coach) that were held in Joel Quenneville's office," said Beach, speaking to the media publicly for the first time about the abuse he endured. 

"There's absolutely no way he can deny knowing it."

But Quenneville did deny it. He thought he would get away with it, too – his involvement swept under the rug just as he helped do to Beach's claims all those years ago. 

Thankfully, that did not happen. And now Quenneville will no longer benefit from the privilege of serving as an NHL head coach. 

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will now meet with Bettman to discuss his involvement, as well. In a statement issued on July 22nd, 2021, Cheveldayoff said, “I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks.”

According to the report, Cheveldayoff was in attendance at a meeting between the Blackhawks' leadership brass on May 23rd, 2010 to discuss the claims made against Aldrich. The report states that the former Blackhawks PR head was told by former team President & CEO John McDonough that the group chose not to alert law enforcement or human resources of the claims against Aldrich until the playoffs were over so as to not "disturb team chemistry" 

This is not "cancel culture". These are consequences. 

Quenneville was made aware of the claims that a team employee sexually assaulted a player under his care in 2010, proceeded to meet with team officials about it, and then chose to prioritize winning a game over the safety of a human being. 

Quenneville then went on to enjoy a wildly successful NHL career while Beach saw his plummet. Aldrich's abuse and the subsequent lack of action or support afforded to him in the aftermath was a central reason for that. A scouting report from a Rockford Ice Hogs assistant coach in 2011 that read, "I think what happened last spring with Brad Aldrich weighed on him (Beach) big time" only evidences this. 

Quenneville then had the audacity to publicly lie about his knowledge of the allegations with full belief that he would skate free from consequences yet again. Each and every step of his involvement symbolizes the culture of silence and enablement that "destroyed" Kyle Beach "from the inside out". A culture that has likely done the same to others whose stories remain buried. 

And still, Quenneville was afforded the privilege to resign on his own accord, rather than be given the order of termination he was due. Justice was served – 10 years too late and far too little. And while Quenneville may be gone, the culture he allowed to infect hockey remains. 

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