Panthers’ Joel Quenneville was part of 2010 meeting to discuss sexual assault allegations against then-Blackhawks’ video coach, internal investigation finds

Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (Jim Rassol, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Chicago Blackhawks made public on Tuesday the findings of an independent investigation into allegations of sexual assault against former video coach Brad Aldrich.

The full investigation report can be found by clicking here.

That investigation came after two lawsuits were filed against the organization, alleging Aldrich sexually assaulted a former Blackhawks player, as well as a high school hockey player, in 2010.

Due to the findings of the investigation, which was discussed in great detail by Blackhawks’ CEO Danny Wirtz, general manager Stan Bowman and senior VP of hockey operations Al MacIsaac are both no longer in their roles with the team.

Wirtz also said that no member of the Blackhawks management team in 2010 will be with the organization moving forward.

Not an hour later, the NHL announced the Blackhawks had been fined $2 million for “inadequate procedures and mishandling of the 2010 matter related to the conduct of former video coach Brad Alrdich.”

As part of the investigation, a key element was a meeting that took place among Chicago’s “senior club management” on May 23, 2010.

According to the report, this meeting was held to discuss the alleged incident between Aldrich and the player, and how to proceed.

This is straight from the NHL’s release:

The meeting involved (at various times) six individuals from then-senior Club management, including then-President John McDonough, then-Senior Vice President Jay Blunk, General Manager Stan Bowman, then-Senior Director of Hockey Administration Al MacIsaac, then-Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, and then-Head Coach Joel Quenneville. (Jim Gary, at the time a mental skills coach for the Blackhawks, was also present for the beginning of the meeting, but departed upon making his report.) According to the Report, after discussion of the alleged incident and how the Club should be dealing with it -- including the potential options of initiating an investigation, notifying appropriate members of the Human Resources Department, ensuring the immediate separation of Aldrich from the Club’s Players, among other things -- ultimately the determination was made and direction given that Hockey Operations personnel should devote their exclusive attention to on-ice matters heading into the Stanley Cup Final, and that other appropriate Club personnel within the organization would take responsibility for “handling” the Aldrich situation in a prompt and appropriate manner -- which, as subsequent events make clear, did not happen.

Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, then-coach of the Blackhawks, is mentioned as being a part of that meeting.

That is troubling as earlier this year Quenneville released a statement through the Panthers that directly contradicts the results of the investigation.

“I first learned of these allegations through the media earlier this summer,” Quenneville said in a mid-July statement provided to the Associated Press. “I have contacted the Blackhawks organization to let them know I will support and participate in the independent review. Out of respect for all those involved, I won’t comment further while this matter is before the courts.”

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was the assistant GM in Chicago in 2010, also denied any knowledge of allegations against Aldrich prior to when the former video coach’s employment with the team ended.

Here is Cheveldayoff’s statement, which was released by the Jets on July 22:

“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. After confirming that I had no prior knowledge of anything, I had no further involvement. As this is a legal matter before the courts, I will not be making any further comment; however, to the extent I am contacted by investigators in this matter, I will cooperate to the best of my ability and knowledge.”

That statement came nine days after Quenneville’s, and both are in contrast of the findings of the independent investigation.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Tuesday that he plans to meet with Quenneville and Cheveldayoff to discuss but wouldn’t comment further.

“With respect to Messrs. Cheveldayoff and Quenneville, who are currently employed by NHL Clubs other than the Blackhawks (the Winnipeg Jets and the Florida Panthers, respectively), I plan to arrange personal meetings in the near future with both individuals to discuss their roles in the relevant events as detailed in the Report. I will reserve judgment on next steps, if any, with respect to them,” Bettman’s statement read.

What this could mean for Quenneville’s future with the Panthers, and Cheveldayoff’s with Winnipeg, has yet to be determined.

Those are decisions that will ultimately be made by each organization.

Local 10 News reached out to the Panthers after the release of the report, and the team responded with the following statement:

“At this time, Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated that he will be meeting with Joel Quenneville to discuss the events highlighted in the Jenner & Block October 2021 report.  Accordingly, we have no comment.”

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.