CALGARY — The Calgary Flames are continuing to investigate allegations head coach Bill Peters made racist comments directed at former player Akim Aliu.
Aliu, who played seven games for the Flames in 2012 and 2013, made the allegation over social media on Monday, saying Peters hurled racial slurs at him while he played for the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League during his rookie year.
While he didn’t mention Peters by name, Aliu indicated that’s who he was talking about when he tweeted the following: “Not very surprising the things we’re learning about (former Leaf coach) 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.”
The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted Aliu 56th overall in 2007 out of the Ontario Hockey League. Aliu played 48 games under Peters with the IceHogs, and 13 more with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
In an interview with TSN on Tuesday, the Nigerian-born Aliu elaborated on the allegations.
“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– s—,’ ” Aliu told TSN, with Peters, who was then the Ice Hogs head coach, referring to Aliu’s selection of hip-hop music. “He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—— other n—–s in the ass 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.”
Flames’ general manager Brad Treliving responded to allegations on Monday, and again on Tuesday morning.
“We hope to have this completed quickly, but it’s got to be thorough and it’s got to be done correctly, and I’m not about to comment on anything halfway through or give tidbits or give soundbites at this point other than to say the serious nature of this is not lost on us,” he said.
“We take it with extreme seriousness and until such time as I can personally talk to all parties involved, we’re not going to comment.”
Treliving said he has spoken to both Peters and Aliu.
“Until such time as I can put everything together, I’m not going to comment on any individual in terms of what they’ve said,” he said.“This needs to be handled correctly, it needs to be thorough and it needs to be deep.”
The Flames are currently on the road, having played in Pittsburgh on Monday night before travelling to Buffalo.
Treliving called the allegation, “repulsive.”
“Now it’s my job to find out exactly what’s taken place.”
At the time of the alleged incident, John McDonough was president of the Blackhawks while Stan Bowman was general manager.
Aliu added on social media: “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 of them with the Flames between 2011 and 2013.
The NHL issued a statement Tuesday morning.
“The behaviour that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable,” it read. “We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly.”
Another player, Sean McMorrow, tweeted Tuesday that Peters was the “Worst human being ever to coach me.”
“Treated me terrible on a AHL team (IceHogs) where I won a League Award for Community Service,” he wrote in part, adding the hashtag, #badguy.
McMorrow was with the IceHogs for the 2008-09 season and played one game in the NHL, with the Buffalo Sabres, in the 2002-03 season. He has been with the Jonquiere Marquis in the LNAH since 2014-15.