NHL Investigating Allegations of Racial Slur from Flames’ Bill Peters

The NHL says it will join the Flames in looking into recent allegations about a racial slur from Calgary head coach Bill Peters.

Former NHL defenceman Akim Aliu tweeted on Monday night that he had a racial slur directed his way by a former coach in 2009-10 while a member of the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.

The 30-year-old Aliu never referred to Peters by name, but did reference Calgary’s airport code “YYC” when writing about the alleged coach involved in the matter. 

“The behaviour that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable,” the NHL says in a statement. “We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly.”

Brad Treliving’s Response

Flames general manager Brad Treliving addressed the media Monday when he was made aware of the tweet, and said he plans to speak with Peters before making any further comment on the matter.  

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving
Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

The accusation came while Calgary was on the ice in Pittsburgh facing the Penguins. Peters was not available for comment post-game.

The Flames were scheduled to practice in Buffalo on Tuesday ahead of a game against the Sabres on Wednesday.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down with Bill or our people internally to talk about this and get to the bottom of it,” Treliving told reporters. “I would say we take this matter very very seriously and until such time we have a chance to speak internally we wanted to address you people that we’re aware of it.”

Peters’ Connection with Babcock

Aliu’s allegation comes on the heels of reported controversial tactics used on rookies by Mike Babcock, who was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20. 

Peters served as one of Babcock’s assistants for two seasons in the late ’90’s with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs.

Peters would take on the head coaching position with Rockford for the 2008-09 season, spending three seasons with the IceHogs before rejoining Babcock as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings in 2011.

Aliu, who was born in Nigeria before moving to Canada, tweeted: “Not very surprising the things we’re hearing about Babcock. Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree, same sort of deal with his protege in YYC. 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.”

Bill Peters Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Aliu, who played 14 games for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears in 2018-19, played 48 games under Peters with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10, and 13 more with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted Aliu 56th overall in 2007 out of the Ontario Hockey League.

At the time of the alleged incident, John McDonough was president of the Blackhawks while Stan Bowman was general manager.

Aliu added: “First one to …admit I rebelled against him. Wouldn’t you? And instead of remedying the situation, he wrote a letter to John McDonough and 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 has played seven career games in the NHL, all with the Flames between 2011 and 2013. 

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

The Canadian Press