Peters resigns as Flames head coach
Bill Peters’ time with the Calgary Flames came to an end on Friday in the wake of revelations this week that he repeatedly used racial slurs a decade ago while coaching in the American Hockey League.
Assistant coach Geoff Ward, who was behind the bench for the team’s win Wednesday in Buffalo, will take over on an interim basis.
Flames GM Brad Treliving said at a press conference Friday that he had accepted a letter of resignation from Peters earlier in the morning.
"Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organization," Treliving said.
The Flames had already distanced themselves from Peters Wednesday, sending him back to Calgary ahead of the team’s game in Buffalo, where he released a statement apologizing for his actions.
“I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words,” Peters wrote in the statement.
Peters, 54, coached Calgary to the Flames’ first division title in 13 years and the best record in the Western Conference last season. He compiled a record of 61-37-11 over parts of two seasons behind the bench.
Peters’ inappropriate conduct first came to light on Monday after a series of social media posts by former player Akim Aliu, who was born in Nigeria, and played under Peters with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10.
In response, Treliving launched an internal investigation.
According to Aliu, Peters uttered the racial epithets in reference to his selection of hip-hop music for the Rockford dressing room.
“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n----- s---,’ ” Aliu told TSN. “He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n-----s f------ other n-----s in the ass stuff.’”
Aliu’s claim was independently corroborated by TSN with two of his Rockford teammates who were in the room at the time of the alleged incident.
The NHL is also conducting its own separate inquiry, which includes a scheduled in-person meeting with Aliu in the coming days.
“The League has been in regular communication with the Calgary Flames management and our review of this serious matter in ongoing,” the NHL said in a statement Friday. “There are meetings scheduled with relevant individuals – including Akim Aliu – in the coming days. We will have no further comment at this time.”
The courage Aliu displayed triggered another of Peters’ former players to speak out. Former Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Michal Jordan tweeted on Tuesday that Peters kicked him and punched another player on the bench during an NHL game.
“He kicked me pretty hard in the back during a game,” Jordan told TSN on Tuesday. “Even the trainers and the other guys saw it. I was at that point in my career, like I just got there, so I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t want them to think I was crying. Me and my agent, we kept it secret. Now other guys are speaking out, so I felt like I could.”
Multiple sources confirmed to TSN the other physical altercation Jordan alleged in his tweet, that Peters also struck a Hurricanes unnamed defenceman in the head on the bench.
Peters did not acknowledge or address the physical altercations in his only public comments. He did not respond to a request from TSN asking for comment on those allegations.
Current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour confirmed the incidents took place.
“With Bill, it for sure happened, the two issues that are in question,” Brind’Amour told reporters Wednesday.
Brind’Amour was on the bench as an assistant coach during Peters’ entire four-year tenure in Carolina before succeeding him in 2018.
“To me, it’s what happened after that I’m proud about, the way the players handled it and the way the sports staff handled it – which was to bring it to management right away,” Brind’Amour said. “Management handled it directly and [I] never heard of it again, never saw anything again after that. It was definitely dealt with, in my opinion, correctly. That’s not something that you talk about, because it’s not our issue. We’ve definitely moved past that.”
According to sources, those incidents took place during the 2015-16 season. Since then, Don Waddell has taken over as GM, and Tom Dundon purchased the team from Peter Karmanos.
Multiple requests for comment from Carolina’s then-GM Ron Francis have gone unreturned to TSN over the last days. Francis, now the general manager of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise, signed Peters to a two-year contract extension on July 27, 2016, in the off-season that followed the physical altercations with players.
Karmanos told the Seattle Times on Wednesday that he was not made aware of Peters’ physical abuse and said he would have fired Peters in a “nanosecond.” Peters resigned in Carolina on April 20, 2018.
He was hired three days later in Calgary.
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli