VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There’s more controversy in the Canadian hockey world, just weeks after long-time fixture Don Cherry was fired for his comments about immigrants. And some are asking – could this be hockey’s #MeToo moment?
Allegations of racism are now weighing down the Calgary Flames and Coach Bill Peters. Former NHL-er Akim Aliu has alleged that Peters used what he called the “n-bomb” several times towards him in the dressing room a decade ago when he was in his rookie year, all over a choice of music.
Flames General Manager Brad Treliving said the team is looking into it.
“Allegations of this nature we take very, very seriously,” he said. “This is a subject matter that has no place in our organization.”
On Monday night, Aliu said on Twitter that Peters had used the racial slur while the two were together in the AHL. Aliu played for Peters when he was head coach of the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate, for five games in the 2008-09 season and 48 games in 2009-10. Aliu also appeared in 13 games for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye in ’09-10.
In the series of tweets, Aliu didn’t mention Peters by name, but did refer to a “protégé” of Mike Babcock currently in Calgary. Peters served as Babcock’s assistant on Detroit’s bench for three years.
Both the team and the NHL are conducting investigations into the incidents. The league calls the alleged behaviour “repugnant,” but it has opened a much bigger conversation about how coaches behave towards players.
Host Scott Rintoul with Sportsnet 650 says while certain things were once accepted, some in the hockey world are wondering if it’s time to put an end to them.
“It seems obvious to somebody who is not in the game – yeah, you can’t kick a player, you can’t hit a player, why would you do that? Especially if you’re someone in a position of power,” he says. “But these are things that have happened. It doesn’t happen everywhere, it doesn’t happen with every team, but it’s happened before and these are some of the stories we’re seeing coming out right now.”
Rintoul says the Peters allegations are raising some questions.
“The debate right now is, is there a better way to do things than the way it’s always been done? And we’ve got to be careful that we don’t cut off our nose to spite our face here. There are a lot of good people in hockey, there are a lot of good people in sports. That doesn’t mean everything that’s been done before is okay now.”
He adds it could spark a movement similar to #MeToo – but it also may not.
“I’m not sure it’s going to be as widespread as everybody thinks. Everybody goes to the far end of the spectrum when they see an example like this, a high profile example.”
While Peters has not been fired, he will not be behind the bench Wednesday night when the Flames visit the Buffalo Sabres.
With files from Sportsnet and Jaime Pulfer