SUNRISE, Fla. — For the Florida Panthers, there has never been a better start to a season.

The next few days, though, could change everything.

Panthers Coach Joel Quenneville’s future is in jeopardy, after he was named in a report citing how the Blackhawks mishandled allegations that an assistant on his Chicago staff sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup finals run in 2010.

“Our focus is on the ice,” Florida defenseman Brandon Montour insisted Wednesday, hours before the Panthers beat the Bruins 4-1.

The success Quenneville had in Chicago – three Stanley Cups – was why Florida brought him in to coach the Panthers a little over two seasons ago. He’s one of the biggest reasons why this Florida team believes it, finally, can win a title.

But a Thursday meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman looms for Quenneville, who will likely learn sometime not too long after that talk if he’ll be allowed to remain with Florida. For a team that is off to a 7-0-0 start, there is now a major source of worry.

Quenneville read from a prepared statement Wednesday, saying he could not discuss the specifics because the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation found that the allegations against then-assistant Brad Aldrich were largely ignored by the team for three weeks after a May 23, 2010 meeting. That meeting took place on the same day Chicago finished off a four-game sweep of San Jose to reach the Stanley Cup final.

Quenneville is the second-winningest coach in NHL history, his 969 victories trailing only the 1,244 amassed by Scotty Bowman – the father of now-former Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, who resigned Tuesday when the investigation’s findings were released.

Quenneville’s record with Florida – 79-40-13 – is by far the best of any coach in Panthers history, and the team came into this season truly thinking it was a Stanley Cup contender.

Quenneville was brought into Florida to turn around a long-struggling franchise, one that had cycled through 15 coaches in 25 seasons, including five in a six-season span before Quenneville was hired.

LIGHTNING: Winger Nikita Kucherov is expected to be out 8-10 weeks after undergoing an unspecified surgery for an unspecified lower-body injury.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions announced Kucherov’s prognosis with no additional details. Kucherov could be back playing just before or after the New Year.

Kucherov was injured Oct. 16 in Tampa Bay’s third game of the season. He doubled over in pain after an innocent-looking collision in the third period of the Lightning’s game at Washington.

Coach Jon Cooper said two days later that Kucherov would be out for a while. The team put Kucherov on long-term injured reserve not long after.

KINGS: Defenseman Drew Doughty will be out for about eight weeks with a bruised right knee.

Doughty will need six weeks of recovery from the first significant injury of his 14-year NHL career before he begins skating again. The Kings hope the 2016 Norris Trophy winner can return to the lineup in less than two months, Los Angeles GM Rob Blake said.

Blake also announced defenseman Sean Walker is out for the season after tearing ligaments in his knee. Walker was injured Monday during the Kings’ loss at St. Louis.

Doughty was injured by an illegal knee-to-knee hit from Dallas defenseman Jani Hakanpaa last Friday during the Stars’ 3-2 victory over the Kings. Hakanpaa received a 5-minute major and a game misconduct after he skated into Doughty while the Kings’ star passed the puck and attempted to avoid the contact.

Hakanpaa didn’t receive any additional NHL discipline for his hit.


RED WINGS 3, CAPITALS 2: Robby Fabbri tied it early in the third period, captain Dylan Larkin scored in overtime and Detroit came back to win at Washington.

Larkin beat Vitek Vanecek 1:37 into OT. Adam Erne started the comeback with a goal in the second, and Thomas Greiss made 26 saves for the Red Wings.

Alex Ovechkin scored his eighth goal of the season and Evgeny Kuznetsov his fifth to stake Washington to a 2-0 lead. Ovechkin’s goal was the 738th of his career, putting him three back of Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL career list.

MAPLE LEAFS 3, BLACKHAWKS 2: William Nylander scored in overtime to lift Toronto at Chicago.

The Leafs snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory, and extended the Blackhawks’ record to 0-6-1.

John Tavares and David Kampf also scored for Toronto, and Jack Campbell stopped 25 shots. Chicago got 36 saves from Kevin Lankinen, and goals from Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat.

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