Flames coach benched after racial slur allegation
An NHL head coach is under investigation by his team after an accusation surfaced that he directed a racial slur at a player a decade ago.
Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters, who is being investigated by the Flames organization, will not coach Wednesday as his team plays in Buffalo. This comes after former NHL player Akim Aliu accused Peters of using a racial slur toward him a decade ago, in a post Aliu made on Twitter on Monday.
“Our review into the allegations from last evening continues,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said in a statement released by the team. “This is a very serious matter and we want to be thorough in our review.
“Bill Peters will not be behind the bench for the Flames game tomorrow night (Wednesday) in Buffalo. Associate coach Geoff Ward will handle head coaching duties.
“We will have no further comment until our review is complete.”
Aliu, now 30, was born in Nigeria and raised in Canada. In a series of tweets on Monday, Aliu said when he was with the Rockford IceHogs, an affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons that Peters, who was the head coach there at the time, “dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.”
Aliu spoke to TSN on Tuesday, telling the network: “What am I going to say? I was 20 years old and a first-year pro. I was too scared to speak up. I beat myself up every day over it.”
According to the TSN story, two of Aliu’s teammates from Rockford, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, were in the room at the time of the alleged incident. Both independently corroborated what Aliu said happened, according to the report.
Via Twitter on Monday, Aliu explained further.
“First one to admit I rebelled against him,” Aliu said in the series of posts. “Wouldn’t you? And instead of remedying the situation, he wrote a letter to (Blackhawks president) John McDonough and (Blackhawks general manager) Stan Bowman to have me sent down to the ECHL. 20 year old on pace for 20 goals in his first pro year with zero PP/PK time was off to a great start in his Pro career.”
Aliu would later be traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in a seven-player trade in June 2010. He played seven NHL games during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 season with Calgary. He’s currently a free agent after playing for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears for part of last season.
CNN has tried to reach Peters himself, as well as through the Flames, for comment but has not been successful.
Peters joined the Flames as head coach in 2018 after working as the head coach with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014-2018.
In a statement, the Blackhawks said: “The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously. The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu.”
The NHL said in a statement Tuesday: “The behavior that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable. We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly.”