WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes hire ex-Flames coach Bill Peters

WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes hire ex-Flames coach Bill Peters

Warning: Story contains offensive language

The WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes hired former Calgary Flames bench boss Bill Peters as their new head coach, the team announced Wednesday.

Peters resigned as head coach of the Flames in November 2019 during an investigation into his misconduct, including directing racial slurs at Akim Aliu during their time with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Aliu, who is Black, said Peters “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 played under Peters with the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

The former NHLer expanded on the incident in an interview with TSN.

“He walked in before a morning pregame skate and said, ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– shit,'” Aliu said. “He said, ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—–g other n—–s in the ass stuff.’

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened,” he continued. “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.”

Two players who were in the room at the time, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, corroborated Aliu’s account.

Peters acknowledged the incident and said he “meant no disrespect” for his “offensive language” shortly after Aliu came forward. However, Aliu condemned Peters’ statement as “misleading, insincere, and concerning.”

Prior to Lethbridge’s hiring announcement Wednesday, Aliu said a current NHL head coach reached out to him last week to try and broker an apology on Peters’ behalf. Aliu tweeted his response to the unknown third party, adding that he was “curious” about the timing of the attempt.

A current NHL Head Coach reached out to me last week to try and broker an apology on behalf of Bill Peters. So there is no ambiguity, this was my response verbatim. pic.twitter.com/i468vQ4erp

— Akim Aliu (@Dreamer_Aliu78) August 30, 2023

“Truth be told, if I never said anything (Peters) would still be coaching in the NHL,” Aliu said. “I am all about second chances, but only if they are sincere.”

Peters said during a press conference Wednesday he wanted to educate himself before making a genuine apology and that he hopes to contact Aliu at some point, according to TSN’s Salim Nadim Valji.

“I apologize … I now recognize the impact of my words. … I regret my choice of words … I failed to create a safe space for Akim,” Peters told the media.

A Lethbridge Hurricanes press release stated that Peters completed an anti-racism training and coaching certification program over the past year and the WHL is “satisfied” he is ready to return to coaching.

Per the team, Peters will continue to undergo equity training and anti-racism coaching.

Statement from Bill Peters. pic.twitter.com/RTv5nqV7Wf

— Lethbridge Hurricanes (@WHLHurricanes) August 30, 2023

Prior to his stint with the Flames, Peters served as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014-18. In the wake of Aliu’s allegations, former Hurricanes defenseman Michal Jordan said that Peters kicked him in the back “pretty hard” during a game and punched players on the bench. Current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, an assistant on Peters’ staff at the time, verified Jordan’s account of what happened.

Peters was hired as head coach of the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in 2020, but he was fired after a year and a half.

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