Bill Peters is back in hockey, and Akim Aliu – the player whose racial allegations led to the former Calgary Flames coach’s resignation – says he’s open to people getting second chances.
”Only with the past behind us can we focus on the future,” Aliu wrote in a text to The Associated Press on Thursday. ”Hockey is for all. I believe in second chances for everyone, that we can all find forgiveness in our heart and that real positive change is coming if we continue to push forward together.”
Aliu, who later posted the comment on his Twitter account, was responding to a request seeking comment on Peters being hired as coach of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg a day earlier.
Peters resigned as the Flames coach in November after the Nigerian-born Aliu alleged Peters ”dropped the N bomb several times” in directing racial slurs at him when the two were in the AHL a decade earlier. Other players also accused Peters of physically abusing his players behind the bench during his four years coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.
”I don’t resent a man for finding work,” Aliu wrote. ”But I will fight to make sure those same opportunities are available to everyone, on and off the ice, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Aliu was born in Nigeria and raised in Ukraine before his family moved to Canada. The 30-year-old is a journeyman minor-league defenseman, who played six games in the Czech Republic this past season.
Aliu said he is ”patiently looking forward to the outcome of the NHL’s investigation” into allegations made against Peters.
The NHL said the investigation has not been concluded.
Peters, speaking during an introductory video conference call with Russian media on Wednesday, said he is attempting to learn and grow from what happened.
”I think as times goes on, we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves. And I’m no different than that,” Peters said. ”You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”
Aliu is continuing to focus on making hockey more accessible and diverse by trying to make the sport more affordable to underprivileged youth.
He finished his note by writing: ”Stay Tuned #TimeToDream.”