MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Florida Panthers players and the team’s interim coach spoke on Friday, just hours after head coach Joel Quenneville resigned following allegations, he did not investigate a report of sexual abuse when he coached the Chicago Blackhawks.

The team is in Detroit Friday with interim coach Andrew Brunette, who got the job after Quenneville resigned. Quenneville was one of the central figures in a report released earlier this week that detailed how the Chicago Blackhawks did not properly handle sexual assault allegations made by former player Kyle Beach against video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. Quenneville was Chicago’s head coach at that time.

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During practice on Friday, Brunette made clear that the Panthers’ on-ice matters are dwarfed by the bigger issue of the sexual assaults reported by Beach in 2010 and subsequent cover-up that has engulfed the sport after details came out in recent days.

“It’s a real sad day for hockey, with Kyle Beach and everything he’s gone through,” Brunette said. “You feel for him and what he’s had to deal with. It’s a sad day for our organization, it’s a sad day for our players, it’s a sad day for the game of hockey.”

Former Florida Panthers Head Coach Joel Quenneville chats with Assistant Coach Andrew Brunette during a break in the action against the Vancouver Canucks at the BB&T Center on January 9, 2020 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brunette spent four seasons playing for Quenneville and has been a Florida assistant since 2019.

The Panthers, who some believe might be the best team in hockey, is trying to wrap their heads around the last 48 hours.

“He’s a great guy and I’m sure he’s going to be a great coach for now,” Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. “It’s not easy for everybody, but we’re going to go through it as a team.”

The Panthers haven’t said if their intention is for Brunette to have the job for a few days, a few weeks or few months. Florida plays Saturday at Boston, then not again until a home game Thursday against Washington.

“I’m day-to-day,” Brunette said.

The fallout from the report has been massive; Chicago general manager Stan Bowman resigned and Quenneville left his job with Florida. But Winnipeg general manager Kevin Chevyldayoff — who also worked for the Blackhawks at that time — escaped sanctioning after meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday.

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Huberdeau said hockey should, and does, seem secondary given what Beach has endured.

“We all feel sorry for what happened, and that’s all that matters,” the Panthers forward said.

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said he watched Beach’s interview with TSN after it aired Wednesday night and said it left him “extremely sad.” He was asked if, after watching it, his opinion of Quenneville had changed.

“I’m not sure about my feelings right now,” Ekblad said.

The 48-year-old Brunette spent four seasons playing for Quenneville. Three of those years were in Colorado and the last was in Chicago — the 2011-12 season, Brunette’s last as a player and one where he was a training camp teammate of Beach.

Brunette played a total of 16 seasons for six different franchises, six of those seasons coming in Minnesota. He went back to the Wild when his playing days were over for seven more years, holding several jobs during that stint including director of player personnel, assistant general manager and assistant coach.

Quenneville — a three-time Cup-winning coach, all with Chicago — and the Panthers came calling in 2019, offering Brunette a job as an assistant. He’s been in Florida since, perhaps hoping to one day be a head coach, never envisioning that chance would come like this.

“I’m just trying to process,” Brunette said. “It’s been a whirlwind. I wish I could give you a better answer. I can’t explain to you. I understand the bigger issue here right now is Kyle.”

Florida entered Friday looking to become the fifth franchise and seventh team in NHL history to begin a season with eight consecutive victories. The others that have done it: the 1934-35 and 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975-76 and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres, the 2005-06 Nashville Predators and the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens.

“It’s been a crazy few days with all the information and everything that’s happened,” Ekblad said. “We’re a team that’s a bit distraught right now.”

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CBSMiami.com Team