The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen amid allegations that he “physically and forcefully kicked” a player on the Panthers’ bench during a game in January.
According to confirmed sources, the incident happened during the third period of the Florida Panthers’ regular season game against the Minnesota Wild on January 20. While entering the bench after a shift, an unnamed Panthers player threw a water bottle in frustration, which apparently soaked Kitchen. He responded by kicking the player in the midsection of the back.
One source described the kick as “full on”, and stated that Kitchen “wound up and forcefully booted the player in the middle of the back in anger for being doused with water.”
The source went on to say that this definitely was not a friendly tap of encouragement, and stated that “there is absolutely no place for that behaviour in the game.”
Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville and GM Dale Tallon were notified of the incident immediately following the game, which resulted in a 5-4 Panthers victory. No disciplinary action was taken at the time, and Kitchen remained behind the bench without further consequences.
After further review of the incident by the league and the team, the decision was made to part ways with Kitchen.
The Panthers announced in a news release only that Kitchen will not return as an assistant coach, and declined any further comment on the matter. Kitchen also declined to comment when reached by the media.
An internal investigation between the Panthers organization and the National Hockey League has begun.
Featured photo courtesy of Andrew Willis / USA Today Sports
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