Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving announced Friday that coach Bill Peters has resigned from his post. Associate coach Geoff Ward, who was behind the bench for the Flames' Wednesday contest against the Buffalo Sabres, has been named Calgary’s interim coach.
“This morning I received a letter of resignation from Bill Peters, which I accepted,” Treliving told media. “Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organization.”
The 54-year-old’s resignation comes following allegations he directed racial epithets at former player Akim Aliu during his time with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Peters has not been with the Flames since Wednesday, when he returned to Calgary. Treliving declined comment on the financial or contractual implications of Peters' resignation. Peters reportedly had the remainder of this season and next season remaining on a contract that paid him $2-million annually.
The first allegations leveled against Peters arose Monday when Aliu, who spent his rookie professional season under Peters in 2009-10, took to Twitter and stated the now-former Flames coach used racial slurs “several times” when addressing Aliu because “he didn’t like (Aliu’s) choice of music.” Speaking with TSN’s Frank Serravalli, two of Aliu’s former IceHogs teammates corroborated the allegations.
In the wake of Aliu’s comments, others who have played for Peters began to speak out. Former player Sean McMorrow, who played under Peters in Rockford during the 2008-09 season, called him the “worst human being to ever coach me” in a social media post on Tuesday. That same day, former NHL defenseman Michal Jordan alleged that Peters kicked him while the two were player and coach with the Carolina Hurricanes. Jordan also alleged that Peters punched another player in the head during his time with the Hurricanes. Current Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour confirmed Peters’ actions Wednesday.
In Friday’s press conference, Treliving stated that following Monday's allegations, the Flames assembled an action plan for their investigation that addressed three “critical areas.” The first was a full review, which included Treliving speaking with Peters about the allegations, and while Treliving said the matter needed to be handled in a timely fashion, he was “not going to trade carelessness for thoroughness.” Treliving followed by saying the next step was to deal with the team, providing information, updates and support to current Flames players. Treliving said players were asked if “people were put in situations they were not comfortable with,” and added that “there were none.” Finally, the Flames wanted to ensure the media was kept up to date on the situation.
Treliving noted he has also been in contact with Aliu, Jordan and other former players, staff and management from the organizations with which the incidents occurred as part of the information-gathering process. But, as a result of Peters’ resignation, Treliving stated the Flames’ review has concluded and the information that has been collected will be turned over to the NHL. “We consider the matter closed,” Treliving said.
The NHL, however, stated that their review of “this serious matter is ongoing,” adding that there are meetings scheduled with Aliu and “relevant individuals” in the coming days.
Treliving, who categorically denied that the Flames had any knowledge of the alleged incidents before they came to light in recent days, said “the subject matter we’ve been dealing with over the last three days is difficult, it’s hard and it does not, in any way, reflect the core values of the Calgary Flames.”
In the days since Aliu's allegations were made, Peters’ lone comment has been a statement, which was released in the form of a letter. In the statement, Peters apologized to Treliving and the Flames “for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.” He continued: “The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values. After the incident, I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I 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."
In Aliu’s response to the letter, which did not address Aliu specifically and stated that the slur used “was not directed at anyone in particular,” he said he found Peters’ statement “misleading, insincere and concerning.” Aliu added that he had “accepted an invitation from the NHL to meet and discuss this situation. Out of respect for that process, I will not respond publicly to the statement or discuss the racism and discrimination that I have endured until after my meeting.”
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