Former NHLer Akim Aliu alleged that Flames coach Bill Peters directed racial slurs at him during the 2009-10 season. Following a brief statement Monday, Calgary GM Brad Treliving stated the organization wants to “complete a full and proper investigation.”
Bill Peters|Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Former NHLer Akim Aliu has accused Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters of directing racial slurs at him while Aliu was a rookie with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
Aliu, 30, made the allegations on Twitter Monday, stating that Peters “dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room” during Aliu’s rookie season because Peters “didn’t like my choice of music.” Aliu, who was born in Nigeria but raised in Ukraine and Canada, continued by stating that he rebelled against Peters, who Aliu claimed wrote a letter to Chicago Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough and vice president and GM Stan Bowman to have the then-20-year-old demoted to the ECHL.
Peters was not made available to media Monday following the Flames’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, during which Aliu’s comments came to light, but Calgary GM Brad Treliving addressed the situation post-game.
“During tonight’s game I was made aware of a Tweet from former player Akim Aliu,” Treliving said. “Obviously, we were playing so 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. I would say we take these matters very, very seriously. So, until such time as we have a chance to speak about it internally, we obviously wanted to address you people.
“We are aware of it,” Treliving continued. “We were made aware of it during the game this evening. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Bill. I will be doing that. Until such time we won’t have any further comment on it. But we will address it and get back to you people once we have a chance to speak internally.”
In a written statement following the game, Treliving added that the team wants to “complete a full and proper investigation before we provide any further comments on the matter.” TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday morning that the NHL head office has contacted the Flames and “further discussions” are expected.
Aliu’s allegations come in the wake of a recent report that now-former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock asked then-rookie Mitch Marner to rank teammates based on their work ethic and subsequently shared Marner’s list with teammates. Aliu didn’t refer to Peters by name, but said he wasn’t surprised by the report of Babcock’s behavior because the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, same sort of deal with (Babcock’s) protege in (Calgary.)” Peters was one of Babcock’s assistants with the Spokane Chiefs in the late-1990s and later spent three seasons as Babcock’s assistant with the Detroit Red Wings from 2011-12 to 2013-14.
Aliu, who was drafted 56th overall by the Blackhawks in 2007, had brief forays into the AHL prior to his rookie season, scoring three goals in eight games across the regular season and playoffs. In 2009-10, his first full professional season, Aliu scored 11 goals and 17 points in 48 games with the IceHogs and spent 13 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, where he scored five goals and 14 points.
After the 2009-10 campaign, Aliu was traded by the Blackhawks to the Atlanta Thrashers alongside Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel. Aliu proceeded to spend much of the next several seasons in the AHL, including extended stays with the Flames’ affiliate. All seven of Aliu’s career NHL contests were played with the Flames during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, several years before Peters’ tenure as Calgary’s coach began. Aliu has since played in Sweden, Russia and Slovakia, with his last stop coming with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears last season.
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.