Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving met with the media on Friday afternoon to discuss the resignation of coach Bill Peters.
The press conference came after it was revealed that the disgraced coach had used a racial slur against former player Akim Aliu in the American Hockey League, as well as multiple accusations of physical abuse behind the bench when he was the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Aliu’s story was independently corroborated by several of his then-teammates with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs (Peters later apologized in a letter to Treliving — an apology that Aliu called misleading and insincere), while current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said former defenseman Michal Jordan’s accusations of physical abuse “definitely happened.”
After giving a rundown on the timeline of events leading to Peters’ resignation, as well as emphasizing the organization’s desire to handle the investigation correctly and thoroughly, Treliving attempted to answer questions on a wide range of subjects, some of which he was unable (or unwilling) to answer.
Among those: He would not comment on whether or not Peters’ resignation meant that the team was no longer paying him the remainder of his contract or if there was any sort of deal made, saying only that Peters was simply no longer a member of the organization.
He also did not want to deal with hypotheticals and refused to answer directly whether or not the Flames would have fired Peters had he not resigned on Friday.
From there, a lot of the questions dealt with what the Flames knew and how much due diligence was done when they hired Peters prior to the 2017-18 season.
“Were we aware of any type of allegations? Categorically no,” Treliving said on Friday.
He was asked directly if he had spoken to former Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis as part of the hiring process, saying only that he spoke to several of Peters’ previous employers. Francis was reportedly made aware of the incidents involving Jordan and a still-unknown Hurricanes player but did not tell the team’s owner. He has yet to speak publicly on the incidents.
“The question has been raised, did we know, what do we know,” said Treliving. “We knew nothing of any nature that we have been dealing with the past few days. In terms of due diligence. You do due diligence. We do a full scrub on any hire. I did speak to previous employers of Bill.”
As a follow-up, he was asked if the team will change the way it handles future hires and the vetting process that comes with it.
“No matter how difficult the situation you go through, you have to learn from it,” he said. “There are lessons to be learned here. You always want to find out information,I think in all of us there are probably things in the past people may not be aware of. You try to do the best job you possibly can, we will make sure we continue to dig as hard as we can for anyone else.”
“I don’t know if you’re going to find out all the information, or everything in everybody’s past. You have to do the best job you possibly can. Are there things we can change and add? Sure, you look at your policies, you look at your procedures, you always have to get better. We will attempt to do that. I talked to people Bill had worked for in the past, had played for Bill in the past, people he had been in contact with.”
Treliving was also asked about what changes need to happen regarding the culture of the sport so incidents like the ones involving Aliu and Jordan no longer happen.
“I think from 10 years ago we have changed,” he said. “You evolve all the time. You have to continue to evolve. You have to continue to look and see if there are issues that can be addressed and changed. I know how we operate in terms of the culture, and values and thing we hold dear to us. That type of behavior just has no place. Is there more steps that need to be taken? I am a big believer in accountability and responsibility. We will be accountable to make sure we are doing everything we can from our standpoint, but I think lots of steps have taken throughout the hockey culture to move forward positively. We need to continue to do that.”
Related: Peters out as Flames’ coach