SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville was in his usual spot behind the team’s bench on Wednesday night when they hosted the Boston Bruins at FLA Live Arena.
The Panthers survived a slow start to the game before eventually taking over and defeating the Bruins 4-1.
The win kept Florida’s record perfect through its first seven games, extending a new franchise record with a gleaming 7-0-0 mark in the standings.
That should be the headline surrounding this Panthers team, one that has never seen success like this, but unfortunately, it is not.
Quenneville, when coaching the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup title during the summer of 2010, was part of a high-level meeting that discussed allegations of sexual assault by a then-Blackhawks player against the team’s then-video coach Brad Aldrich. That meeting has been confirmed by an independent investigation conducted by law firm Jenner & Block, which released its findings on Tuesday.
In the wake of those findings, all Blackhawks executives that were part of the team in 2010 are no longer with the organization, including general manager Stan Bowman and senior VP of hockey operations Al MacIsaac.
Two members of that meeting that are currently employed by other teams are Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Quenneville said Wednesday morning that he would be meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday in New York City to discuss the findings of the investigation.
“I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow I’ll be meeting with Gary Bettman,” Quenneville said, reading from a prepared statement. “I look forward to continuing to contribute to the process. I respect you all doing your jobs and having your questions as well, but I won’t comment any further until the appropriate time after I meet with the commissioner.”
Those comments came immediately following the Panthers’ morning skate.
About seven hours later, just after 6 p.m. ET, an interview was held on TSN in which the person known as John Doe in the lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks revealed himself to be former Chicago prospect Kyle Beach.
Beach fought through tears while giving specific details about what happened to him in 2010, including who he thought was aware of the alleged abuse, from players to coaches and management.
Asked specifically about Quenneville, Beach said he believed that Quenneville knew about what allegedly happened to him.
“I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported to James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it,” Beach said during the emotional interview with TSN.
Beach’s full answer when asked about Quenneville can be read below, and the full interview on TSN with Rick Westhead can be found by clicking here.
When asked about Quenneville and Cheveldayoff planning to meet with Bettman regarding the findings of the investigation, Beach said while the NHL has already let him down once, he still has hope the commissioner will conduct a thorough review.
“I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does his due diligence, that he talks to not only them, but Stan Bowman, John McDonough, and anybody else that has information to offer before he makes his decision,” Beach said.
Quenneville did not have a chance to answer questions about Beach’s interview because he was not made available to the media following Florida’s win on Wednesday.
In his place, Panthers general manager Bill Zito addressed the media and said there would be no comment from Quenneville until after his meeting with Bettman.
Here are Zito’s full remarks:
“As an organization, we commend Kyle Beach for his courage in coming forward this evening to bring to light the pain he endured during his time in Chicago. Information that has recently become available is deeply troubling. There’s no question that the events described in yesterday’s report are serious and severe. We are working closely with the National Hockey League to assist with the ongoing process, and with respect to that, will not comment further until after the commissioners meeting tomorrow with Joel.”
Zito said Quenneville’s meeting with Bettman would take place at 2 p.m. Thursday. He did not take any questions from the media.
Florida’s next game is Friday in Detroit, a game that will air exclusively to a national audience on ESPN+.
Until then, Quenneville’s future with the Panthers, a team that is poised to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup with him potentially at the helm, appears to be in question.