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AKIM ALIU was far from happy with the apology Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters issued for a racial slur he allegedly used when both were in the minors 10 years ago.
The former National Hockey League player released his own statement on Thursday on Twitter, saying he found Peters’ statement a day earlier acknowledging that he used offensive language to be “misleading, insincere and concerning.”
Aliu said he has accepted an invitation from the NHL to discuss the situation and would not comment further until after the meeting.
Peters issued a letter on Wednesday night to multiple media outlets, apologising to the Flames and general manager Brad Treliving. The letter did not mention the Nigerian-born Aliu or specify the words Peter used. He called it an “isolated and immediately regrettable incident.”
The statement drew criticism on social media.
Former NHL player Georges Laraque tweeted: “The @NHLFlames and the @NHL can now finally conclude their investigation and fire him, what more can they need after this…?”
Aliu tweeted on Monday that Peters directed racial slurs toward him when both were with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Blackhawks’ top farm team, in 2009-10. Aliu, who was born in Nigeria but raised in Ukraine and Canada, said Peters “dropped the N bomb several times” because he didn’t like the player’s choice of music.
Peters did not coach the Flames on Wednesday night when Calgary won in Buffalo against the Sabres. Afterward, Treliving said the Flames’ investigation was ongoing.
The Flames were scheduled to be off on Thursday before returning to practice yesterday in Calgary. Their next game is tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
New Jersey teammates Wayne Simmonds and PK Subban, who are both black, were asked about the Aliu-Peters situation before the Devils faced the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
“I can guarantee you every single black hockey player has been called a racial slur at some point in their career, whether it’s been younger or older,” Simmonds said. “It’s something people don’t like to talk about because it makes them uncomfortable. In light of this coming out, hopefully this can do some good for the hockey community and shed some light on it.”
Simmonds was the target of a racist incident in 2011 when a fan threw a banana on the ice during his shootout attempt during a pre-season game in London, Ontario, when he was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Aliu-Peters incident raises its own set of concerns, Simmonds said.
“You never want to hear things like that,” he said. “Those things are extremely discouraging for people of African descent and of colour. Something like that happens to you and [the] one person that’s doing it to you controls kind of your destiny, it’s definitely something that needs to be explored. It’s extremely disheartening and I definitely feel for Akim.”
Subban got to know Aliu growing up in Toronto and called him a “good kid.”
“Until I get all the info I can’t really comment on what exactly happened,” Subban said. “But I can tell you this right now, the first thought of it is it leaves a bitter taste in everybody’s mouth. It just doesn’t look good.”
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