It’s difficult, if not impossible, to avoid reporting on controversial stories in today’s NHL. And to say this year has already been a controversial one would be an understatement. Now, we find Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters in seriously hot water.
For those living under a rock somewhere, Peters was accused of making racist comments toward former player Akim Aliu.
The allegations came down Monday night, with Aliu alleging on social media that Peters directed a racial slur toward him “several times” during his tenure in the AHL. Aliu was a member of the Rockford IceHogs when Peters was head coach in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
Aliu’s story was corroborated by two of his Rockford teammates, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, via TSN on Tuesday.
Flames general manager Brad Treliving had a conversation with Aliu.
“During tonight’s game I was made aware of a tweet from former player Akim Aliu,” Treliving said Monday. “Obviously we were playing so I haven’t had a time to sit down with Bill or our people internally to talk about this and get to the bottom of it. I would say we take these matters very, very seriously.”
Treliving addressed the media against Tuesday and stated that Peters had not been fired. He added that the investigation was ongoing. It was later reported that Peters would not be coaching the Flames when they face off against the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday.
Former NHLer Michal Jordán also chimed in on Peters on social media, calling him “the worst coach ever by far” and alleging he was “kicking me and punching other player to the head during the game.” Jordán played for Peters as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Current Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington was asked if he’d experienced anything in the room with Peters. “Never,” he said. “I’ve been treated fairly; I’ve been treated respectfully.”
It’s hard to imagine Peters coming back from this type of allegation, especially given the corroboration of the story and the position the Flames find themselves in on the ice. One has to imagine that it’s a foregone conclusion the Calgary coach will be fired, although there’s obviously a great deal of legal issues behind the scenes to contend with.
“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 when asked why he waited so long to reveal these allegations. “This isn’t to the degree of (Colin) Kaepernick by any means, but if you play the race card, it’s most likely the end of your career.”
Photo credit: NHL