Calgary Flames Investigating Coach Over Allegation He Used Racial Slurs

The National Hockey League said Tuesday that it was investigating the coach of the Calgary Flames, Bill Peters, over allegations that he once directed racial slurs at a player and demoted him to the minor leagues after the player pushed back.

The player, Akim Aliu, who was born in Nigeria, made the allegations on Twitter on Monday night. He said that when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, a decade ago, Peters, who is white, “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.”

Aliu said that after he “rebelled” against the coach for his use of racial slurs, Peters retaliated against him, advising executives to demote Aliu to a lower-level league. Before that, Aliu said, he had been seen as a 20-year-old player who was “off to a great start in his pro career.”

The N.H.L. said in a statement that “the behavior that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable,” adding that, “We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Brad Treliving, the general manager of the Flames, said the team had opened an investigation into Aliu’s allegations on Monday night. But he added, “Bill has not been relieved of his duties.”

“The serious nature of this is not lost on us,” Treliving said at a news conference in Buffalo, where the team will play a game Wednesday night. “We take it with extreme seriousness. Until such time as I personally can talk to all parties involved and everybody we want to as part of this, we are not going to comment.”

“We are continuing this ongoing investigation right now,” he said. “We hope to have this completed quickly, but it has got to be thorough. It has got to be thorough and it has got to be done correctly.”

Peters has not commented publicly on the allegations, and he was not present for the team’s practice on Tuesday. The Blackhawks said in a statement on Tuesday that the allegations “are something we take seriously.”

“The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu,” the team said in the statement.

The allegations come two weeks after another scandal over racist language shook the world of Canadian hockey. Don Cherry, a well-known fixture of “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcasts, was fired earlier this month over his rambling on-air remarks that were widely viewed as an attack on the patriotism of immigrants.

Aliu, who is currently a free agent, expanded on his allegations to The Sports Network, a Canadian channel.

He told the network that Peters had shouted racial slurs at him in the locker room in front of other players because he was upset about Aliu’s choice of music. Two of his former teammates, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, corroborated his account, the network said.

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened,” Aliu said of Peters. “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.”

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