How Andrew Brunette led the Florida Panthers through Joel Quenneville's resignation

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

His friends call him Bruno.

For 1,110 regular-season games over 16 NHL seasons, many called Andrew Brunette their teammate. After he retired in 2012, the Minnesota Wild called him by many titles -- coach, assistant general manager, special assistant to the general manager and director of player personnel. In July 2019, Joel Quenneville called him up and asked him to join his staff, becoming an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.

The same Joel Quenneville who coached Brunette as a Colorado Avalanche player for three seasons, and then again with the Chicago Blackhawks in Brunette's last season as a player.

The same Joel Quenneville who resigned on Oct. 28 with the Panthers undefeated (7-0-0).

Now they call Andrew Brunette the interim head coach in Florida, charged with managing an unanticipated crisis that threatened to derail an otherwise promising season for the franchise.

"These are not the circumstances that I'd ever dream of, or ever want to step into. But in life, you just take what's given to you, and just do the best job that you can do," Brunette told ESPN recently.

Quenneville's resignation came after the release of an investigation into how the Chicago Blackhawks handled claims by Kyle Beach that former video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him in 2010. Quenneville had participated in a meeting about the claims during the team's run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and -- like everyone else in a position of power in that meeting -- took no immediate action. Aldrich remained on his staff, and celebrated with the other coaches when Chicago won the Stanley Cup.

When the investigation was released publicly in October, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac resigned. Quenneville tendered his own resignation after a meeting in New York with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Panthers owner Vincent Viola.

"Suffice it to say that whatever conversations I had with Joel, or I suppose Vinnie Viola had with Joel, Joel ultimately concluded that the most sensible course of action for him was to resign," said Bettman.