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Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville resigns amid Chicago Blackhawks scandal

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville resigns amid Chicago Blackhawks scandal
Former Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, shown Oct. 6, 2018, was in his third year as the Panthers' coach. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville resigned Thursday, hours after meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual abuse case during the club's 2010 Stanley Cup run.

Assistant coach Andrew Brunette is expected to take over on an interim basis for the unbeaten Panthers.

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Quenneville was in his third season as head coach of the Panthers, who were off to a 7-0-0 start in the 2021-22 campaign. He steps down with two additional years and more than $15 million remaining on his contract.

Bettman said in a statement that the league agrees with Quenneville's resignation.

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"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," Bettman said Thursday. "We thank the Panthers' organization for working with us to ensure that a thorough process was followed.

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"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."

Earlier this week, Kyle Beach revealed himself as "John Doe," the former Blackhawks player who filed a lawsuit against the franchise in May for mishandling his sexual assault allegations in 2010.

The suit led the Blackhawks to hire law firm Jenner & Block in late June to conduct an independent investigation, which looked into the accusations that former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted and harassed Beach during Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup run.

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The investigation, which was made public Tuesday, revealed that Quenneville was aware of the alleged misconduct and took part in at least one meeting centered around the allegations during the 2010 postseason. The former Blackhawks and Panthers coach previously said he only learned of the accusations this summer "through the media."

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"With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers," Quenneville said in a statement Thursday. "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 are safe for everyone."

Quenneville joins former Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and Blackhawks senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac in stepping down for their roles in the scandal. The Blackhawks also were fined $2 million.

"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 Matthew Caldwell said in a news release. "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."

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Quenneville has the second-most coaching wins in league history, posting a 969-572-150-77 record over 25 years with the Blackhawks, Panthers, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues. He guided the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup trophies, including in the 2009-10 campaign when Beach reported the allegations to the franchise.

Bettman is scheduled to have a meeting with Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Friday. Cheveldayoff was an assistant general manager for the Blackhawks in 2010.

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