TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the Florida Panthers and assistant coach Mike Kitchen have parted ways after Kitchen is alleged to have kicked a player on the bench sometime during the regular season.
Full story with details – #FlaPanthers are expected to part ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen after he allegedly kicked a Panthers player on the bench during an #NHL game this season:https://t.co/RgxkAf6K3W
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 15, 2020
Mike Kitchen Leaves the Panthers
In Seravalli’s report he writes that the alleged incident occurred on Jan. 20 during the third period when the Panthers were visiting the Minnesota Wild. A player threw his water bottle on the bench in frustration and the water sprayed on Mike Kitchen. Kitchen kicked the player in response.
A source said Kitchen’s kick was “full on” and the source also said Kitchen “reared back and booted [him] in the lower back in anger.”
Kitchen didn’t respond to Seravalli for comment and the Panthers denied to comment. In a news release the team stated that Kitchen will not return as assistant coach.
An NHL official confirmed they have been informed of an internal investigation by the Panthers.
Sources confirmed to Seravalli that Panthers former general manager Dale Tallon and current head coach Joel Quenneville were notified of the incident following the game. Kitchen was allowed to continue coaching. According to Seravalli, Quenneville said he didn’t foresee any coaching changes after the season.
Kitchen, 64, joined Quenneville behind the Panthers bench this season after spending seven seasons with him with the Chicago Blackhawks. They won two Stanley Cups in Chicago. Kitchen also played in 474 NHL games with the Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils.
A few weeks earlier, the Panthers and general manager Tallon mutually agreed to part ways as well. Soon after, it was reported that Tallon is under investigation for allegedly using racist language in the Toronto bubble. Bill Zito was hired as their new general manager on Sept. 2.
What This Means for the Future
In the immediate future, it means the Panthers need a new assistant coach. It’s unclear how significant of an impact a new assistant coach will have while most of the coaching staff remains the same.
The bigger impact is how this changes what is acceptable in coaching. Kitchen is not the first coach to be removed over alleged abuse. Former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters allegedly kicked defencemen Michal Jordan during a game when he was coaching with the Carolina Hurricanes. Peters is also under investigation for allegedly uttering a racist slur in front of former player Akim Aliu‘s in 2009-10. These alleged instances being brought up shows that abuse by coaches isn’t tolerated anymore.