Assistant Mike Kitchen fired by Panthers after report he kicked player

Assistant coach Mike Kitchen will not return to the Florida Panthers next season among a series of staffing changes announced Tuesday.

TSN reported Kitchen kicked a Panthers player on the bench during a game in January and the team held an internal investigation. A team spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation.

Kitchen oped out of coaching in the NHL’s post-season for personal reasons, saying in July: “It was a difficult decision to say the least but the right decision for me and my family.” The 64-year-old rejoined coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench this season for the first time since 2016-17, and the two won the Stanley Cup together twice with Chicago.

TSN reported Quenneville and former general manager Dale Tallon were notified of the incident after the game. The team did not renew Tallon’s contract and last month hired Bill Zito as its new GM.

Beyond Kitchen’s departure, longtime NHL executives Rick Dudley and Paul Fenton were named senior advisers to the GM, and recently retired player Gregory Campbell is the new vice-president of player personnel and development after four years in player development with Columbus. Blake Geoffrion was named assistant to the GM, and P.J. Fenton has joined the scouting staff.

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