Seattle general manager Ron Francis broke his silence on Saturday and issued a brief statement regarding Bill Peters’ player abuse when they were both with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Shortly after it was revealed that Peters had repeatedly used a racial slur toward former NHL forward Akim Aliu, former Hurricanes defenseman Michal Jordan came forward and accused Peters of kicking him in the back during a game and punching another player in the back of the head.
Current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour — who was an assistant with the team at the time — said the incidents definitely happened, and that Francis had dealt with them internally. How, exactly, they were dealt with is still unclear as then-Hurricanes owner Peter Karamanos said he would have fired Peters “in a nanosecond” had he known about the incidents.
Francis said in his statement on Saturday that he did brief ownership on the situation.
When I was General Manager in Carolina, after a game, a group of Players and Hockey Staff members made me aware of the physical incidents involving two Players and Bill Peters. I took this matter very seriously.
I took immediate action to address the matter and briefed ownership.
To my knowledge, no further such incidents occurred.
It would have been inappropriate for me to comment publicly while an active investigation was being conducted by another team. I will not comment on this matter further.
Peters spent four years as the head coach of the Hurricanes, and as noted by the News & Observer‘s Luke DeCock in a scathing article on the Peters-Francis era on Saturday, had his contract extended two different times by Francis even after the abuse incidents took place.
He had been the head coach of the Calgary Flames since the start of the 2017-18 season, a position he held until he resigned on Friday.
It is entirely possible, if not likely, that his NHL career is finished.
But with Francis now in a position to build the yet-to-be-named expansion franchise in Seattle he is still going to have a lot of questions to answer on how he handled the Carolina situation, and why he handled it the way he did.
Related: Peters out as Flames head coach