Former NHL player calls out Calgary Flames coach for racial slurs

Dylan Grant & Niqhil Velji / November 26, 2019

Akim Aliu wearing his Rochester American jersey of the AHL
(@dreamer_aliu78 / Instagram )

Former NHL player Akim Aliu took to Twitter as the Calgary Flames battled the Pittsburgh Penguins, alleging Flames coach Bill Peters made racial comments to him on multiple occasions.

Aliu was a member of the Rockford IceHogs in the 2009-2010 season, a team coached by Bill Peters. Aliu alleged on one occasion Peters made racial slurs towards him before the teams morning skate, when Aliu who was in charge of the teams music, played a hip hop song.

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. First one to

In a press conference on Tuesday Flames GM Brad Treliving said he was aware of the tweets and added the organization is conducting an investigation on the matter.

“Allegations of this nature we take very, very seriously this is a subject matter that has no place in our organization and so the magnitude and the serious  nature we take this allegation is very high.” – Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames GM

Peters was not made available to the media after Calgary 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh. The Flames organization has confirmed that Peters will not be behind the teams bench for Thursday’s clash with the Buffalo Sabres as the investigation continues.

JD Burke the Editor in Chief of Elite Prospects said a cultural barrier in hockey, may have caused Aliu to not speak up about the issue sooner.

 “I really do think that the issue at hand here is that the support networks didn’t exist at the time for Akim Aliu to rely on. So, put yourself in his shoes right you’re already one of the few black players in an incredibly white sport, very old white sport at that and speaking out isn’t generally rewarded in this culture.” – JD Burke, Editor in Chief at Elite Prospects

Calling out Hockey Culture?

With Don Cherry’s recent comments about immigrants and poppies, that subsequently got him fired from Hockey Night in Canada, diversity in hockey is under the microscope.

10 year NHL veteran Dan Carcillo used social media to voice his displeasure with hockey culture, Carcillo has been a mental health advocacy since his retirement from the NHL in 2015.

Carcillo said from Don Cherry to Mike Babcock to Bill Peters abuse has always been ripe in the hockey community.

“I’ve been saying this for a long time, abuse is ripe in every level of hockey. If you don’t think it is take a look at what’s happening at the National Hockey League” -Dan Carcillo, Retired NHL Player

More Players Speaking Out

Aliu’s tweet caused other players to voice their displeasure with Peters coaching style, along with people around the hockey world commanding Aliu for speaking up.

Aliu’s Rockford IceHog teammate Sean McMorrow also took to the Twitter platform to say Peters was the worst human being to ever coach him.

Former NHL player Michal Jordan also spoke up, Jordan was coached by Bill Peters as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Jordan said via Twitter that Peters was abusive to him and teammates. Jordan as well in that statement called Peters the worst coach every, by far.

NHL legend Theo Fleury was one of the first players to speak up about abuse in hockey. Fleury in 2009 confirmed that he was sexually abused by junior coach Graham James which was a trauma that he said drove him to alcohol and drugs throughout his illustrious  16 year NHL career.

Fleury took to Twitter after Aliu’s comments saying that he was happy to see a safe space created for athletes.

This follows an incident where former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock asked then rookie forward Mitch Marner to submit a list from hardest to least hardest working players on the Leafs and ending up sharing the answers with the players who Marner ranked lowest.

In his media availability on Tuesday, Marner encouraged more players to speak up if they have stories to share.

In an update, Sportsnet columnist, Eric Francis released a statement that Bill Peters sent to Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving.

We continue to wait word on what the Calgary Flames organization will do with this matter.