Panthers coach Joel Quenneville announced his resignation Thursday night hours after meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman about his involvement in a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the sport. Quenneville’s Panthers own the league’s best record at a perfect 7-0.
Former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach recently came forward as “John Doe” in a lawsuit alleging repeated sexual abuse by video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. Documents released earlier this week show the Blackhawks were aware of the allegations against Aldrich but swept it under the rug, feeling it would cause a “distraction” as the team pursued a Stanley Cup title. Aldrich, who pled guilty to “criminal sexual conduct” with an underaged high-school player in 2013, was allowed to celebrate the team’s victory, participating in their championship parade and even having his name appear on the Stanley Cup.
Quenneville, who won three titles during his time with the Blackhawks, told the Associated Press in July that he had just learned of the troubling allegations against Aldrich, though the league’s investigation revealed that to be untrue. In an emotional interview with TSN, Beach was adamant Quenneville knew of Aldrich’s abuse and did nothing to stop it.
The Panthers shielded Quenneville from the media after Wednesday night’s game against Boston, reading a prepared statement and declining all questions. It’s unclear who will be behind the bench when the Panthers visit the Red Wings Friday night, though according to ESPN’s Kevin Weekes, Florida is expected to pursue former Rangers and Lightning coach John Tortorella as Quenneville’s replacement. A former defenseman who played 13 years in the NHL, Quenneville stands as the second-winningest coach in league history, trailing only Scotty Bowman in career victories.
The Blackhawks, who have yet to win a game this season (0-5-2), were assessed a $2-million fine for what Bettman described as "inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters” related to Aldrich’s abuse. As a result, Stan Bowman stepped down from his post as GM and will no longer be involved with the U.S. Olympic team headed to Beijing this winter.
In addressing his departure, Quenneville released the following statement: