NHL: Joel Quenneville resigns as Panthers coach; John Tortorella likely to replace him
Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville has resigned after he met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman over his handling of Kyle Beach’s sexual assault on Thursday.
Quenneville was the head coach in Chicago in 2010 when Beach brought forth his sexual assault claims by then-Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.
“With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers,” he said in a statement. “I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach has suffered.”
A report on the Blackhawks’ internal investigation into the matter was released this week, resulting in general manager Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac leaving the organization.
Bowman reportedly told investigators that Quenneville, when informed of Beach’s allegations in 2010, “shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get to where they were (the playoffs) and they could not deal with this issue now.”
Beach told TSN on Wednesday, “I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to (former team mental skills coach) James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it and there’s absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that, to somebody who served his organization and his team so well.”
According to ESPN, Panthers president Matt Caldwell and general manager Bill Zito joined Quenneville in the meeting with Bettman at the league offices in New York. TSN reported that options facing Quenneville include being fired, being asked to resign or getting suspended from his job.
Quenneville, 63, led the Blackhawks to Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Fired in Chicago during the 2018-19 season, he joined Florida for the 2019-20 campaign.
The Panthers are off to the best start in franchise history, 7-0-0, ahead of a Friday road game against the Detroit
John Tortorella to replace Quenneville?
According to analyst Kevin Weekes, he’s hearing a coaching change is coming in Florida. “Keep an eye on my ESPN colleague John Tortorella as one of the top potential candidates,” he tweeted.
The 63 year-old Torts is 12th all-time on the NHL’s win list. In 1383 games he has a record of 673-541-37-132. His postseason record is 56-64 winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tortorella is a fiery coach known to get into some heated moments with the media and his players. But he is also widely considered one of the fairest coaches in the business.
“Personally, I love Torts,” Zach Werenski said. “Me and Torts went through it. My first year, came in and it was smooth sailing. Second and third year I was struggling defensively. He was hard me – pushed me to be better. Going through that process with him – seeing what he means to the room, to the city, to the organization – I’m honored to have played for him.”
Let’s see how this plays out in the coming days.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report