Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters is being investigated after allegations of racist comments have been brought to light by a former player. In a series of tweets, Akim Aliu said that Peters referred to him by the N-word several times during the 2009-10 season. Peters was the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs at the time, and Aliu was in his first season with the team.
Aliu expanded upon his posts on Twitter during an interview with TSN. He provided a specific example of remarks that Peters made in the IceHogs' locker room. This incident allegedly occurred prior to a morning skate.
“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n— s-—,’ ” Aliu said, with Peters referring to the player's selection of hip-hop music. “He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—s f— other n—s in the a— stuff.’
“He then walked out like nothing ever happened. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”
According to the report by TSN, two witnesses of this alleged incident, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, independently corroborated Aliu's story and said that everyone should be held accountable for their actions or words spoken.
The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. In response to these accusations, the NHL team released a statement on Tuesday and said that they had no previous knowledge of these alleged incidents.
"The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously," the team said, per ESPN. "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 has since responded, calling the alleged behavior "repugnant" and "unacceptable." The league plans on thoroughly investigating the matter.
In the interview with TSN, Aliu was asked why he waited a decade before coming forward with these allegations. He responded by mentioning former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and how he has not been in the NFL since protesting racial injustice during the National Anthem.
“This isn’t me being bitter. I sat on this a really, really long time. It broke my heart, I think it made my career go downhill before it started,” Aliu said. “This isn’t to the degree of Kaepernick by any means, but if you play the race card, it’s most likely the end of your career.”
The news of these allegations came to light on Monday as the Flames were facing off with the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the game, general manager Brad Treliving met with reporters and explained that the Flames take these matters very seriously. Peters was not made available to reporters following the game and was absent from Tuesday's practice. However, he has not been relieved from his duties as coach. Treliving has said that he will meet with Peters and then later update reporters.
Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty