Panthers coach Joel Quenneville’s status as an NHL bench boss moving forward is uncertain. On Thursday, the onetime Blackhawks head coach met in New York with commissioner Gary Bettman to determine the next steps to be taken after it was revealed he was involved in Chicago’s coverup of a 2010 sexual assault and then lied about his role in it. No decision had been made as of early evening.
The meeting came 48 hours after the Blackhawks organization publicly released a 107-page document that involved interviewing 139 witnesses over the course of a four-month independent investigation following a lawsuit filed by a former player in May 2021. The report went into detail regarding a sexual assault that occurred in May 2010 and the lack of an investigation by the Blackhawks organization at that time.
On Wednesday, Kyle Beach, came forward as “John Doe,” the former Blackhawks player, in an emotional 27-minute interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead. Beach firmly believes there is no way Quenneville could not have known about the allegations against video coach Brad Aldrich.
“(Former GM) Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying — and this is not a quote, this is my words — saying that the playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup was more important than sexual assault. And I can’t believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that,” he said.
“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.”
Full timeline of Joel Quenneville’s involvement
Aug. 1, 2008
Brad Aldrich is hired by the Blackhawks as the video coach.
After leaving the Avalanche in May, Quenneville joins the Blackhawks as a pro scout.
Oct. 16, 2008
Quenneville is promoted to head coach after the team fires head coach Denis Savard.
Quenneville provides an unsigned performance evaluation, of Aldrich writing: “Brad did a great job to accommodate the coaches preparing for meetings and their everyday needs … I believe going forward Brad can be more efficient by being in a separate working environment [and] not in the middle constantly being disturbed.”
May 8 or 9, 2010
John Doe, now identified as Kyle Beach, is sexually assaulted and threatened by Brad Aldrich in Chicago.
May 12-19, 2010
While in San Jose during the Western Conference finals, John Doe tells Paul Vincent, the Blackhawks skating coach, what occurred. Vincent, however, recalls hearing rumors from Nick Boynton and then approached John Doe and another player, revealed to be Black Ace 1 mentioned below.
May 23, 2010
The Blackhawks eliminated the Sharks from the playoffs in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. One hour after, a meeting took place with the following senior managers:
- President John McDonough
- Senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac
- General Manager Stan Bowman
- Executive Vice President Jay Blunk
- Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff
- Head coach Joel Quenneville
- Mental skills coach and team counselor Jim Gary
Per the report, Quenneville was brought in after the meeting started since the incident involved a coach.
The report also notes all men recall being told there was an incident. Gary remembers stating Aldrich was threatening John Doe’s career but none recalled being told the exact nature of what occurred. Others in the meeting recall Gary stating Aldrich tried to “get under the sheets” with John Doe.
It seemed there was more concern for the on-ice product than what occurred off the ice:
Bowman recalled that during the meeting, McDonough and Quenneville made comments about the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals and a desire to focus on the team and the playoffs.
Bowman also said:
After learning of the incident, Quenneville shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get to where they were, and they could not deal with this issue now.
The last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup was in 1961 and they had not made the final since 1992.
When questioned about his role, Quenneville told the investigation:
Quenneville recalled others in the meeting stating that “an event happened without saying what happened” and that “something may have happened.
When interviewed, Quenneville stated that he believed that the issue being discussed involved a coach doing something improper and that the group was meeting to decide whether to “make it public.”
Quenneville also stated that he did not believe that John Doe’s name was referenced and, after multiple interviews, Quenneville was unclear whether Aldrich’s name was referenced.
Quenneville also said when interviewed that he did not recall anyone saying it was hard for the team to get where they were in the playoffs, but recalled that his focus was on winning and this meeting was unexpected.
It should be noted that other members of that meeting specifically remember Kyle Beach and Brad Aldrich’s names discussed; however, there is no information stating whether that was before or after Quenneville joined the meeting.
June 9, 2010
The Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
June 14, 2010
McDonough informs human resources regarding the allegations of Aldrich and the May 23 meeting. Per the report, the director of human resources noted: “McDonough said it was decided that the group would not alert Human Resources or do anything about the incident during the playoffs so as not to disturb team chemistry.”
June 16, 2010
Aldrich resigns. He is given a severance, playoff bonus, allowed to have his name engraved on the Cup, have a day with the Stanley Cup, was given a championship ring and was at the banner-raising ceremony. Quenneville states he was not involved in any conversations regarding Aldrich’s separation from the Blackhawks organization and did not know why he was separated. The director of human resources did state she “believed” she personally told Quenneville Aldrich was gone.
June 29, 2010
In another unsigned evaluation, Quenneville wrote: “Aldrich did a great job for the coaching staff in preparing us for all of our meetings and coordinating several tasks that we forward his way. Brad has several people relying on him at the same moment and has a way of deflecting and accommodating everyone at once … Congrats on winning the Stanley Cup!”
Quenneville did not recall writing the evaluation or if he knew he was no longer with the Blackhawks but “did not dispute that he may have written the evaluation” and said it “looked like something he would write.”
Nov. 6, 2018
The Blackhawks fire Quenneville.
April 8, 2019
Quenneville is hired by the Florida Panthers as their new head coach.
Gary tells the director of human resources, “Quenneville appeared angry and was concerned about upsetting team chemistry.”
May 7, 2021
An unnamed former Blackhawks player (referred to as John Doe 1) filed a lawsuit in an Illinois court against the organization. The filing alleges the Blackhawks ignored the player and a teammate’s disclosure of then video coach Brad Aldrich’s sexual assault in 2010.
July 13, 2021
Quenneville calls the allegations “clearly serious” and releases the following statement through the Panthers:
“I first learned of these allegations through the media earlier this summer,” Quenneville said. “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.”
Oct. 26, 2021
The report is released, stating Quenneville knew of the allegations and indicated he put the team winning a Stanley Cup before reporting. For the full report, released publicly by the Blackhawks, click here.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announces he will be speaking in person with Quenneville on Thursday.
Oct. 27, 2021
Quenneville speaks to the media following the Panthers’ morning skate and confirms he will be meeting with Bettman and it will be held in New York.
Asked if he stands by the statement he released in July — that he first learned of the Chicago allegations that summer — Quenneville says yes, but he won’t comment further.
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) October 27, 2021
At 6 p.m. on TSN, Kyle Beach speaks with Rick Westhead and states: “There’s absolutely no way that he (Quenneville) can deny knowing it.”
Quenneville coaches the Panthers to a win over the Bruins, with the game starting at 7 p.m. ET.
After the game. Quenneville is not made available to the media and, instead, general manager Bill Zito reads the following statement:
“Joel will be meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman (Thursday) and he has no comments prior to that meeting.
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 the events described in (Tuesday’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 commissioner’s meeting tomorrow with Joel.”
Oct. 28, 2021
Quenneville, Zito and president Matt Caldwell reportedly meet with Bettman in New York.