Flames coach Bill Peters releases statement apologizing for racist remarks
CALGARY -- Flames coach Bill Peters issued a statement Wednesday night apologizing to general manager Brad Treliving for racist comments he made a decade ago.
"Please accept this as a sincere apology to you, and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago. I know that my comments have been the source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why.
"Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said."
Peters added that the statement was made "in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values," and that following the incident, he was confronted about it and "immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team.
"I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words."
The entire apology was tweeted by TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Following the game, which the Flames won 3-2 in overtime, Flames general manager Treliving held a press scrum with reporters, where he confirmed receipt of the apology, but wouldn't comment on Peter's job status.
"I know everyone wants everything done immediately," Treliving said. "We are not trying to stall or take time or drag our feet.
"It's a serious matter ... and I just want to make sure we're doing a thorough job," he said, adding that he hoped to provide an update Thursday on the situation.
Following a morning skate in Buffalo ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Sabres — one where Peters wasn’t be behind the bench — members of the Flames said they were focused on hockey rather than the fallout from the ongoing controversy.
"As soon as I leave here I’m not going to focus on that, just going to focus on the game tonight like any other game," said Flames forward Mikael Backlund.
"We’re all pros here, we know how to put things aside and just go out and do our job and play the game."
The Flames announced Tuesday evening that Peters wouldn’t coach Wednesday’s after former player Akim Aliu alleged Peters made racist comments toward him while the two were with the Rockford IceHogs — Peters as coach and Aliu as a rookie player — during the 2009-2010 season.
According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, Peters left Buffalo earlier Wednesday and wasn't travelling back to Calgary with the team.
In an interview with TSN on Tuesday, Aliu elaborated on the allegations, saying Peters hurled the N-word multiple times in the IceHog’s dressing room in reference to music the rookie was playing.
The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted Aliu 56th overall in 2007 out of the Ontario Hockey League. Aliu played 48 games under Peters with the IceHogs and 13 more with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye.
He would later play a total of seven games with the Flames in 2012 and 2013, before Peters became coach. Aliu played last season with the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL and is currently a free agent.
Another player, Sean McMorrow, took to social media Tuesday to level allegations of mistreatment by Peters, while a third, Mikal Jordan, alleged physical abuse.
After practise on Wednesday, Backlund added he was surprised by the allegations being leveled against Peters.
"Bill has been great to me so ... our group has nothing bad to say about Bill, I mean, we had a great regular season last year and he was a part of it," he said.
Associate coach Geoff Ward, who was behind the bench in Buffalo, said he hadn’t spoken to Peters and was focused on the game.
"For us it's all about the business of the game and how we need to prepare the team, to have a good hockey game tonight," he said.
"I came to the rink (Tuesday) and was told I was going to run practice and later on in the day I was going to coach the game tonight, so for us as the staff, we're trying to keep things as normal and consistent as possible.
"Game-day routing is the same, meetings are the same. We just want to make it as seamless as possible for the players right now, we'll worry about the next step once we get through the game today."
Flames general manager Brad Treliving said Tuesday he had spoken to both Peters and Aliu and the team’s investigation was continuing.
The Flames are back on home ice Saturday when they host the Ottawa Senators at the Scotiabank Saddledome.