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Gary Bettman: ‘I agreed’ with Joel Quenneville resigning from Panthers

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly talk on a video conference about the results of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault investigation on Monday afternoon. // @NHL

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated on Monday afternoon that he “agreed” with Joel Quenneville making the decision to resign as coach of the Florida Panthers in the wake of the results of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault investigation and subsequent interview from Kyle Beach.

Quenneville resigned as coach of the Panthers on Thursday following an afternoon meeting with Bettman at league headquarters in Manhattan.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly was also in the meeting as was team president Matt Caldwell and general manager Bill Zito.

Florida replaced Quenneville with assistant coach Andrew Brunette.

“I met with Joel Quenneville on Thursday afternoon to discuss his view of the events of 11 years ago and wanted to make sure he felt he had a fair opportunity to tell me his account of what had happened,’’ Bettman said.

“Ultimately, he decided it was best to resign, which, as you know from my statement on Thursday evening, is a decision with which I agreed.”

When asked if Quenneville’s decision to resign came in the face of a potential suspension or ban coming from the commissioner, Bettman deflected.

“Whatever conversations I had with Joel and Vinnie Viola had with Joel, Joel ultimately concluded the most sensible course of action was for him to resign,” Bettman said. “While it may have optically not been the best look, I was more concerned with the substance than the look.”

As for whether Quenneville should have been allowed to be behind the bench for Florida’s win over Boston last Wednesday, Bettman echoed what Zito said on ESPN on Friday night: Quenneville deserved a chance to have his side of the matter heard.

Being pulled off the bench would have showed a prejudice either by the Panthers or the league.

“Should he have coached on Wednesday night? I suppose people can differ on that point, and I understand that,” Bettman said. “But he had already coached 867 games since 2010, and I wanted to make sure that no one, including coach Quenneville, could say that I had prejudged him.

“Again, people can disagree on this but I was focused on the long term, not that one game.’’

Since the independent investigation by law firm Jenner & Block into the Blackhawks was released on Tuesday, team president and general manager Stan Bowman resigned director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac was let go. Quenneville also resigned.

Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, Chicago’s assistant GM at the time of the sexual assault, met with Bettman on Friday and was cleared by the commissioner.

“I do not believe he bore any responsibility for the club’s failure to act appropriately,’’ Bettman said.

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