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Calgary Flames coach accused of repeatedly addressing player with racial slur

Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters watches from the bench during a game against the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.
Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters watches from the bench during a game against the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.
(Rich Lam / Getty Images)

Bill Peters will not coach the Calgary Flames on Wednesday while club officials continue investigating an accusation that he repeatedly used a racial slur in addressing forward Akim Aliu while both were with the minor league Rockford (Ill.) Ice Hogs a decade ago.

The accusations by Aliu, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Canada and is no longer in the NHL, were corroborated by two players who witnessed the event, according to Canada’s TSN.ca.

“Our review into the allegations from [Monday] evening continues,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said Tuesday. “This is a very serious matter and we want to be thorough in our review. We will have no further comment until our review is complete.”

Aliu told TSN that Peters walked into the locker room before a morning skate and used a racial epithet several times in complaining about the lyrics of the hip-hop music Aliu had chosen to play.

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“He then walked out like nothing ever happened,” Aliu told TSN. “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.”

Aliu said he feared his career would suffer if he came forward at the time.

“I was 20 years old and a first-year pro. I was too scared to speak up,” he said to TSN. “I beat myself up every day over it.”

He also said Peters’ bias against him led to his being demoted to the ECHL.

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Aliu’s allegation led to other players using social media to bring up incidents in which they said they were hit or verbally abused by a coach, or saw other players hit or verbally abused.

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a laceration to his right wrist Monday night, the team announced in a statement.

Daniel Carcillo, a former NHL enforcer who played 26 games for the Kings during the 2013-14 season, said on Twitter he saw then-coach Darryl Sutter “kick someone in the lower back on the bench.”

Added Carcillo: “What he did to Matt Greene in front of the entire room before a team meeting when he had a concussion was absurd.”

Carcillo also said Sutter used profanity in addressing a female flight attendant because “he wouldn’t let us eat after a bad loss.”

Carcillo also tweeted a photo of a junior team’s rookie party, with players faces obscured, and said that underage drinking, and physical, verbal and sexual abuse took place at the event and were reported to the Western Hockey League and to Hockey Canada, which ignored it “bc it involved the Sutter name.”

Brent Sutter, one of six Sutter brothers who played in the NHL, owns the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.

Darryl Sutter was known to be gruff in public and often harsh with players behind closed doors as he neared the end of his Kings tenure. Defenseman Drew Doughty, speaking this year, said he and Sutter often butted heads and that “at the end things kind of went south and we were getting in arguments,” but Doughty said he loved the coach who guided the Kings to two Stanley Cup championships.

Darryl Sutter coaches the Kings during a game against the Coyotes in December 2015.
Darryl Sutter coaches the Kings during a game against the Coyotes in December 2015.
(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Also on Tuesday, former Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Michal Jordan said Peters kicked him and punched another player during a game while Peters coached the Hurricanes. Jordan called Peters “the worst coach ever by far.” Peters coached Carolina from 2014 through the 2017-18 season.

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This week, Toronto media reported that former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock had ordered forward Mitch Marner to compile a list of his hardest-working teammates and then shared that list with Marner’s teammates. While not abusive, it was potentially divisive and a questionable coaching tactic.

Former NHL players Sheldon Kennedy and Theo Fleury have said they were sexually abused by coach Graham James during their junior hockey careers. James admitted he victimized both players and served time in prison.


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