Flames probing ex-player's claims coach Bill Peters used racial slurs

The Calgary Flames are looking into accusations from former player Akim Aliu that coach Bill Peters directed racial slurs toward him "several times."

Aliu played for Peters in 2009-10 with the Rockford Ice Hogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Aliu posted a tweet Monday night that read: "Not very surprising the things we're hearing about Babcock. Apple doesn't fall far from the Tree, same sort of deal with his protege in YYC. 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 also addressed his allegations to TSN on Tuesday. He said Peters told him to stop playing hip-hop that the coach called "n----- s---." Aliu said he did not confront Peters at the time.

"What am I going to say? I was 20 years old and a first-year pro. I was too scared to speak up," Aliu told TSN. "I beat myself up every day over it."

Two of Aliu's Rockford teammates, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, independently corroborated Aliu's account to TSN on Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday, the NHL called the alleged behavior "repugnant and unacceptable" and said it would thoroughly look into the matter.

The Blackhawks also responded to the allegations in a statement Tuesday.

"The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously," the team said. "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."

Aliu's tweet came days after several former players criticized recently fired Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock for his coaching tactics and intimidation of young players. Specifically, the Toronto Sun reported that in 2016-17, Babcock forced then-rookie Mitch Marner to rate his teammates based on their work ethics. Babcock then shared the list with Marner's teammates without his permission.

Marner confirmed the incident with reporters Tuesday in Toronto but said, "It's over with now, it's done with. I was lucky the guys who were there with me, none of them took it to heart, and they knew it was not up to me."

Babcock was Peters' college coach and mentored him afterward. Peters was also an assistant coach on Babcock's staff with the Detroit Red Wings from 2011 to 2014.

At the time of Aliu's tweet, the Flames were playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the game, general manager Brad Treliving met with reporters.

"Obviously we were playing, so I haven't had a chance to sit down with Bill or our team internally to talk about this and get to the bottom of it," Treliving said. "I would say we take these matters very, very seriously."

The Flames did not make Peters available. Treliving said he would update reporters further after he spoke to Peters and addressed the issue internally.

Aliu, now 30, was born in Nigeria but grew up in Ukraine and Canada. He most recently played for the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL in 2018-19. He played seven games in the NHL in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons -- both with the Flames. However, Peters was not the coach at the time.

Aliu followed his accusations on Twitter by posting: "First one to admit I rebelled against him. Wouldn't you? And instead of remedying the situation, he wrote a letter to John McDonough and Stan Bowman to have me sent down to the ECHL. 20-year-old on pace for 20 goals in his first pro year with zero PP/PK time was off to a great start in his pro career."

Aliu told TSN that he would have accepted Peters' apology if he had received one.

McDonough is the president of the Blackhawks, and Bowman is the general manager.