Flames Trying to Focus on Hockey Amidst Bill Peters’ Uncertain Future

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Calgary Flames are doing their best to focus on hockey with the future of head coach Bill Peters still up in air amidst allegations he directed racist comments at one of his players in the minors 10 years ago.

Peters is still employed by the team, but will not be behind the bench when the Flames visit the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Focus on Tonight’s Game

“It’s not our focus,” Flames forward Mikael Backlund said. “Our focus is tonight’s game. That’s what we’re all about.”

Associate coach Geoff Ward, who will lead the Flames against the Sabres, said he didn’t know if Peters is still in Buffalo.

Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk
Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Calgary winger Matthew Tkachuk started his scrum at KeyBank Center on Wednesday morning by saying he would only answer questions about hockey.

“Our job is to go out there and play,” he said. “That’s all (the team has) been stressing to us.”

Former NHLer Akim Aliu made the allegations against Peters via Twitter on Monday night.

Aliu, who is black, never referred to Peters by name, but referenced Calgary’s airport code “YYC” when writing about the alleged coach involved in the matter. 

He alleged during the 2009-10 season with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League that Peters: “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 has not responded to interview requests from The Canadian Press. 

Akim Aliu
Akim Aliu (Photo Credits: HC Amur)

On Tuesday, former NHL defenceman Michal Jordan alleged Peters kicked him and punched another player in the head during their time with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, previously an assistant under Peters in Carolina, confirmed Jordan’s account on Wednesday.

“Talking about the incident with Bill, it for sure happened, the two issues that are in question,” he told reporters in New York before a game against the Rangers.

“But, to me, it’s what happened after that I’m proud about, actually. The way the players handled it and the way the sports staff handled it, which was bring it to management right away and then management handled it correctly and never heard of it again. And never saw anything after that. It was definitely dealt with, in my opinion, correctly. That’s not something we talk about because it’s not part of our issue. We’ve definitely moved past that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2019.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press