Joel Quenneville resigned as the Florida Panthers’ head coach late Thursday, in the latest fallout from sexual assault claims by former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach.
A recently concluded independent investigation supports Beach’s allegations, saying that when Quenneville coached the Blackhawks, the team ignored Beach’s claims and mishandled his case.
Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell said the behavior described in the report from the Jenner & Block law firm is “troubling and inexcusable.”
Quenneville stepped down after meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the Panthers said in a news release.
“No one should ever have to endure what Kyle Beach experienced during, and long after, his time in Chicago,” Caldwell said. “Quite simply, he was failed. We praise his bravery and courage in coming forward.”
Quenneville was in the inner circle of the Chicago team’s senior leaders who were told in May 2010 that Beach, who was then 20 years old, said the team’s video coach had sexually assaulted him after threatening to undermine his career. Despite the seriousness of the issue, they delayed any action. At the time, the Blackhawks were locked in a playoff run.
Quenneville’s departure comes after an investigative report about the Blackhawks
Along with the Blackhawks’ then-President John McDonough, Quenneville “made comments about the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals and a desire to focus on the team and the playoffs,” according to the 107-page investigative report that was released Tuesday. The inquiry was commissioned by the Blackhawks.
Quenneville leaves the top job in Florida just two weeks into the new NHL season. He was hired by the Panthers in 2019.
Beach stepped forward this week to say he is the player who had been known only as “John Doe,” who filed a lawsuit against his former hockey team over its handling of the sexual assault claims. The suit accuses video coach Brad Aldrich, who reported directly to Quenneville, of attacking Beach.
“I know I’m not the only one, male or female. And I buried this for 10 years, 11 years. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out,” Beach said this week, about his decision to go public. “And I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone. That if these things happen to you, you need to speak up.”
Aldrich worked for the Blackhawks from July 2008 through June 2010. In a performance review dated June 29, 2010, Quenneville wrote that Aldrich had done a great job for the team, adding, “Congrats on winning the Stanley Cup!”
In 2013, Aldrich pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor in Houghton, Mich., where he worked for the local high school.