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3 potential Florida Panthers coach candidates after Joel Quenneville resignation

Florida Panthers
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers, the No. 1 team in NHL power rankings, are searching for a new coach after Joel Quenneville resigned following the investigation results into Kyle Beach‘s accusations of sexual abuse in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The investigation revealed that members of the Blackhawks organization knew about, and covered up, Beach’s assault by video coach Brad Aldrich.

Fallout across the NHL is widespread, including a formal apology from NHLPA chief Don Fehr, and Stan Bowman stepping down from his management position with the Blackhawks. Quenneville, who was the coach of the Blackhawks at the time, resigned from his position on Thursday not long after Beach revealed the former coach’s involvement in meetings with the Blackhawks at the time.

“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.”

Kyle Beach on former Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, via TSN’s “SportsCentre.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement detailing that, as a result of Quenneville stepping down, he will have to have a meeting with the league to determine appropriate conduct should he wish to re-enter the NHL in a coaching capacity. As Qunneville’s future in hockey becomes uncertain, the Panthers must now figure out who becomes their next coach.

For now, assistant head coach Andrew Brunette has been tapped to lead the team, who is off to their best start in franchise history. He debuted as coach in practice early this morning, but it’s unlikely that he will retain the position throughout the entire 2021-2022 campaign. So, here are some head coach options that the Florida Panthers could consider as contenders for the position:

Florida Panthers hire John Tortorella

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes
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Tortorella is one of the most controversial coaches in the league. Fans either love or hate his aggressive, no-nonsense style of both coaching and dealing with the media. His resume includes head coaching positions with the Tampa Bay Lightning (when he led the club to a Stanley Cup), the New York Rangers, the Vancouver Canucks and, most recently, the Columbus Blue Jackets. He took a gig with ESPN, and his co-worker Kevin Weekes tweeted before Quenneville’s resignation that Tortorella could be a top Florida Panthers candidate.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Panthers, check out #TimeToHunt rumors, rankings, and news here.

Marc Crawford provides Stanley Cup experience

NHL: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings
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Even though Marc Crawford, a former head coach in the NHL, is currently an assistant coach in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, he could be a candidate for Florida’s head coaching position. He’s currently in COVID protocol, alongside some of the team’s players, but could be available for the Panthers upon removal from the protocols.

He spent a large part of his career as the head coach for the Vancouver Canucks, but also had coaching stints with the Dallas Stars, the Los Angeles Kings, the Ottawa Senators and the Colorado Avalanche, where he won a Stanley Cup. As he is still in the league, it could be a good move for the club, but with the obvious downside of hiring someone from the team with the bad PR (though, to be clear, Crawford was not a part of the Hawks organization in 2010, when the Beach incident happened).

Dan Bylsma brings strong resume to Florida

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings
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Bylsma brings plenty of head coaching experience to the table, including a Stanley Cup-winning season coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as time spent coaching the Buffalo Sabres. He was also an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings. Bylsma has experience coaching superstars, of course, as his 2009 Stanley Cup-winning team included Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That experience could certainly translate when dealing with superstars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, who quietly rack up tons of points for the Panthers.

He is currently an assistant head coach with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, but could quickly make a jump back to the big leagues.