Bill Peters will not coach the Calgary Flames in their game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SNW, NHL.TV) while the NHL and Flames continue investigating a claim that he used a racial slur while addressing a player earlier in his coaching career.
Akim Aliu, a second-round pick (No. 56) of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2007 NHL Draft, alleged on social media Monday that he was repeatedly subjected to the racial slur during the 2009-10 season.
Although he didn't mention Peters by name, Aliu played that season for Chicago's American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, where Peters was coach. It was Aliu's first professional season and Peters' third and final season with Rockford.
"The behavior that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable," the NHL said. "We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly."
Flames general manager Brad Treliving issued the following statement Tuesday night:
"Our review into the allegations from last evening continues. This is a very serious matter and we want to be thorough in our review.
"Bill Peters will not be behind the bench for the Flames game tomorrow night in Buffalo. Associate coach Geoff Ward will handle head coaching duties.
"We will have no further comment until our review is complete."
Peters was not on the ice for Flames practice in Buffalo on Tuesday, but Treliving said at the time that he had not been fired.
"Throughout the evening last night and into this morning, we started an investigation into the incident. The purpose of me coming to you here today is that we have not completed that. We are trying to be as transparent as possible and to update you," Treliving said. " Geoff Ward is running our practice here today. Bill will remain at the hotel. Bill has not been relieved of his duties.
"I've spoken to Bill, I've spoken to Akim, I've spoken to a number of people. ... I'm not going to comment on any individual in terms of what they said. I had a chance to speak with Bill last night obviously and again this morning. I spoke to Akim last night and again today. I've spoken to some other players on that team. I've spoken to (general manager) Stan Bowman with the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
"This type of allegation is wholesome. Now it's my job to find out exactly what's taken place."
Peters, who has been Flames coach since the start of the 2018-19 NHL season, did not address the media after the game. Peters coached the Carolina Hurricanes for four seasons (2014-18) before going to Calgary and was an assistant for three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings (2011-14) after leaving Rockford.
Aliu, who was born in Nigeria but played junior hockey in Canada, said he was demoted after he "rebelled" against the use of the derogatory language. He had 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 48 games for Rockford in 2009-10 before being demoted to Toledo of the ECHL. He was traded on June 23, 2010, to the Atlanta Thrashers along with forward Ben Eager and defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel for forwards Joey Crabb, Jeremy Morin and Marty Reasoner, as well as a first-round pick and a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
The Blackhawks issued a statement regarding Aliu's allegations and his demotion to the ECHL:
"The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously. 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."
The 30-year-old, who is a free agent, has three points (two goals, one assist) in seven NHL games, all with Calgary.