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Bill Peters still on staff as NHL, Calgary Flames investigate alleged racial slurs

UPDATE: On Tuesday night, Treliving said Peters would not coach the Calgary Flames when they play against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving says coach Bill Peters remains on the staff but wasn’t certain whether he’d be behind the bench for the next game.

The team and the NHL are both investigating an allegation the Peters directed racial slurs at a player 10 years ago when the two were in the minors.

Akim Aliu, a Nigerian-born player, says Peters “dropped the N bomb several times” in a dressing room during his rookie year.

The 30-year-old Aliu never referred to Peters by name, but did reference Calgary’s airport code “YYC” when writing about the alleged coach involved in the matter.

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Peters has not commented on the allegation. Treliving apologized for not having many definitive answers at practice in Buffalo on Tuesday, a day before the Flames play the Sabres.

Peters was not at the arena while his players were on the ice. The GM says he had stayed at the team’s hotel. Flames associate coach Geoff Ward oversaw practice, which included a brief huddle with the players at centre ice.

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Treliving said he understands the seriousness of the allegations and called them “repugnant” if true, while adding it’s his responsibility to find out exactly what happened.

“This is a subject matter that has no place in our organization,” Treliving said.

Later on Tuesday, Treliving released a statement on the matter.

“Our review into the allegations from last evening continues,” he said. “This is a very serious matter and we want to be thorough in our review.”

He added that Peters won’t be behind the bench for the Flames game on Wednesday in Buffalo and associate coach Geoff Ward will handle head coaching duties.

READ MORE: Mike Babcock fired as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach

Aliu’s allegation comes on the heels of reported controversial tactics used on rookies by Mike Babcock, who was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20.

Peters served as one of Babcock’s assistant’s for two seasons in the late ’90’s with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs.

Peters would take on the head coaching position with Rockford for the 2008-09 season, spending three seasons with the IceHogs before rejoining Babcock as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings in 2011.

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Aliu, who was born in Nigeria before moving to Canada, tweeted: “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.”

READ MORE: Mike Babcock praised by coaching peers after being fired by Toronto Maple Leafs

Aliu, who played 14 games for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears in 2018-19, played 48 games under Peters with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10, and 13 more with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted Aliu 56th overall in 2007 out of the Ontario Hockey League.

At the time of the alleged incident, John McDonough was president of the Blackhawks while Stan Bowman was general manager.

READ MORE: Mike Babcock praised by coaching peers after being fired by Toronto Maple Leafs

Aliu added: “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.”

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Aliu has played seven career games in the NHL, all with the Flames between 2011 and 2013.

With files from The Associated Press