The story of last night’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers was not the game itself.
It was not that the Panthers advanced to 7-0-0 to start the season with a 4-1 win.
It was not that the Bruins looked flat for the last 40 minutes of the game.
It was the fact that on the other bench, Florida head coach Joel Quenneville was allowed to coach another NHL game.
Quenneville’s last game should have come before the Bruins matchup
On Tuesday, Jenner & Block, the law firm investigating the Chicago Blackhawks’ handling of the 2010 sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich, provided the results of their findings in a report. They determined that “John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac, Kevin Cheveldayoff, Jay Blunk and Joel Quenneville were all informed of the allegations on May 23 2010.”
As a result of the findings, MacIsaac, the Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, was fired and Bowman, the president of hockey operations, resigned from the team. Any other executives involved in the incident that were with the team were also relived of their duties.
But two of those names listed remain with a job in the NHL – Kevin Cheveldayoff as GM of the Winnipeg Jets, and Quenneville as coach of the Panthers. And that’s absolutely inexcusable.
Yesterday, “John Doe”, the player who came forth with these allegations, revealed himself as Kyle Beach. Previously anonymous, Beach told his true story with an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead. It is an absolute must-watch/read and can be found here.
While everyone in the hockey world was reading and listening to the absolute horrific details from Beach and his experience with Chicago, Quenneville was gearing up to coach an NHL game.
And that sickens me to my stomach.
Previously, Quenneville said that he didn’t know about the allegations until this summer. Yet, as he was going over lines and game plan in the locker room, we all listened as Beach stated, “I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman is scheduled to meet with Quenneville later today. Who knows what comes from it. Whatever decision comes from that is too late.
Florida should have fired him as soon as the report came out. At the very least, Quenneville should have been put on temporary leave from the league and been away from the team until he met with Bettman. There is no reasoning the Panthers or the league can give for allowing Quenneville on the bench.
To me, allowing him to coach meant it’s one step forward, two steps back. Actually, more like five, 10, 20 steps back. Sure, you clean house in Chicago. But now because someone else is in another organization, we’re going to let it slide? Or just drag our feet on a decision? If the Panthers, and the league, truly wanted to show they have no tolerance for this kind of cover-up in the game, Quenneville would have coached his last game in the NHL on Monday, before the report came out, and not one game after.
We’ll see what happens with the meeting with Bettman. I can’t lie, the expectations are low. It would not shock me if Quenneville is just suspended or fined, but remains coach of the Panthers. It’s sad to say, but this league has made the wrong decision so many times, it would not be a surprise.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t even matter what they decide now. The NHL and the Panthers already have proven that winning hockey games is more important than getting rid of people that allow others to get away with sexual assault. They did that by allowing Quenneville to keep his job. Even if it’s for one game.
Quenneville shouldn’t have been on the bench facing the Bruins. I just hope that it’s the last time he’s ever on the bench for an NHL team.