There is plenty of excitement around the Florida Panthers these days and Wednesday was expected to be a big day with the Boston Bruins coming to town.
Yet the extensive Jenner & Block investigation of the alleged sexual assault of a Chicago Blackhawks player by the team’s video coach in 2010 that came out Tuesday has cast a cloud over what the Panthers are doing on the ice.
The investigation cost Chicago president Stan Bowman his job with the Blackhawks and as GM of the 2022 US Olympic team. Al MacIssac, the Blackhawks’ VP of hockey operations, is also out of a job.
Some wonder whether Florida coach Joel Quenneville will — or should — be next.
Quenneville was the coach of the Blackhawks when video coach Brad Aldrich assaulted an unnamed Chicago player during the 2010 playoffs.
The assault was reported to the Chicago front office and Quenneville was reportedly part of a meeting soon after the team won the Western Conference championship to advance to the Cup Finals to discuss the allegations.
Both Quenneville and Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff (he was the Blackhawks’ assistant GM) said earlier this summer that they did not know anything about the assault, but the investigation revealed they were both part of that meeting in which the allegations were discussed.
It appears the Blackhawks’ failure to act — Aldrich was allowed to keep working through the Finals and took part in championship celebrations around Chicago with players and staff — starts from the top, hence the team’s front office is now gone.
What happens to Quenneville, who has three years remaining on his contract following this season, remains to be seen.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he plans to meet with both Quenneville and Cheveldayoff in the very near future.
UPDATE: Quenneville said he would meet with Bettman on Thursday (video below)
So, for at least right now, the beat goes on.
The Panthers have a game tonight and Quenneville is expected to be behind the bench. He worked the team at morning skate as usual Wednesday morning.
Florida is off to its best start in franchise history as it sits atop the NHL standings with a perfect 6-0 record.
Wednesday night’s game against the Bruins (3-1-0) was already going to be a challenge, but Tuesday’s revelations now bring outside noise and scrutiny to what had been a universally fantastic hockey story in South Florida.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
BOSTON BRUINS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Boston leads 56-35-6, 6 ties
- Odds via Bovada.lv: Florida (PL -1.5 +180) — (ML -135) — U/O 5.5
- Up next: Florida at Detroit, Friday, 7; Boston at Tampa Bay, Thursday, 7
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 74 Owen Tippett
17 Mason Marchment // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 13 Sam Reinhart
77 Frank Vatrano // 19 Joe Thornton // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
44 Kevin Connauton // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Chase Priskie, Ryan Lomberg
Injured: Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara, Olli Juolevi, Anton Lundell
PROJECTED BOSTON BRUINS LINEUP
63 Brad Marchand // 37 Patrice Bergeron // 88 David Pastrnak
71 Taylor Hall // 92 Tomas Nosek // 13 Charlie Coyle
74 Jake DeBrusk // 56 Erik Haula // 62 Oskar Steen
11 Trent Frederic // 23 Jack Studnicka // 83 Karson Kuhlman
48 Matt Grzelcyk // 73 Charlie McAvoy
6 Mike Reilly // 25 Brandon Carlo
28 Derek Forbort // 75 Connor Clifton
35 Linus Ullmark
1 Jeremy Swayman