Rockford IceHogs

Bill Peters out as Calgary Flames head coach

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Bill Peters has resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

“Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organization,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced Friday. Assistant Geoff Ward, who coached the team Wednesday night in Buffalo, has been named interim head coach.

The news comes days after former players came forward with accusations of racial slurs and physical abuse against Peters.

Akim Aliu played for Peters with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2008-09 and 2009-10. On Twitter Monday night Aliu, who spent last season with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, alleged that the head coach used a racial slur “several times” because he did not like the choice of music being played in the dressing room.

Speaking to TSN’s Frank Seravalli on Tuesday, Aliu expanded on his Tweets:

“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– s—.’ He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—— other n—–s in the ass stuff.’

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”

The allegations were independently corroborated by Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, two of Aliu’s teammates with the Ice Hogs.

Aliu said that when he was called into Peters’ office later, there was no apology and the head coach continued to express his displeasure with the music. Weeks later, Aliu, who told TSN he did not tell the Blackhawks organization about what Peters had said, was sent down to the ECHL after the two had a confrontation during practice.

“The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously,” the Blackhawks said in a statement on Tuesday. “The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu.”

[RELATED: Flames’ GM discusses Peters’ resignation, due diligence on hiring]

More allegations against Peters surfaced following Aliu’s speaking out.

Michal Jordan, who played under Peters with the Hurricanes for parts of two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, Tweeted, “Never wish anything bad to the person but you get what you deserve Bill. After years making it to the NHL had experience with the worst coach ever by far. Kicking me and punching other player to the head during the game.”

When asked about the accusation Wednesday morning, Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant coach with the team from 2011-2018, confirmed the allegations. “It definitely happened,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Sean McMorrow played for Peters in 2008-09 with the Ice Hogs Tweeted, “Worst human being to ever coach me … treated me terrible on a AHL team (IceHogs) where I won a League Award for Community Service. #badguy.”

“We knew nothing of any nature of what we’ve been dealing with the last couple of days,” Treliving said.

Peters issued a statement on Wednesday night apologizing to Treliving and the organization “for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.” None of the players who brought allegations forward were named in the letter.

Aliu responded on Twitter with a statement reading, “I have read the statement of Bill Peters, which I found to be misleading, insincere and concerning. I have 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.”

The Flames hired Peters in April 2018 after he spent four seasons with the Hurricanes. He led Calgary to a division title in 2018-19 and the second-most points in franchise history. The team is currently off to a 12-12-4 start and out of the Western Conference playoff picture.

MORE: Karmanos criticizes how Francis handled allegations against Peters

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters’ statement offers ‘sincere apology’ to Flames, ‘anyone negatively affected’

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Bill Peters released a statement in the form of a letter to Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving on Wednesday regarding Akim Aliu’s claims that Peters made racist remarks toward Aliu during Peters’ and Aliu’s time with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis and TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranked among those who received Peters’ letter/statement, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here’s a full transcription of Peters’ letter to Treliving and the Flames, which also included Peters’ signature:

Brad:

Please accept this as a sincere apology to you, and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago. I know that my comments have been a source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why. Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said.

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.

I am aware that there is no excuse for language that is offense. I meant no disrespect for what I said, and it was not directed at anyone in particular. But that doesn’t matter; it was hurtful and demeaning. I am truly sorry.

I accept the reality of my actions. I do believe that we must strive to act with integrity, and to take accountability for what we say and do. This letter is intended to do exactly that; I hope it is is accepted as intended.

I appreciate the thorough review of this situation being undertaken by the Flames. It’s the right thing to do, and I support it fully.

Sincerely,

Bill Peters

There is a lot to take away from that statement/letter.

  • The first party receiving an apology is “you [Treliving] and the entire Flames organization.”
  • Akim Aliu is not mentioned by name. The closest you could say is a blanket apology to “anyone negatively affected by my [Peters’] words.”
  • Peters claims his “offensive language” was “not directed at anyone in particular.”
  • Peters also states that, when called out for his “use of language,” he immediately returned to the Rockford IceHogs’ dressing room to “apologize to the team.”
  • There’s no mention of Peters’ time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Hurricanes player Michal Jordan accused Peters of kicking and punching players during games, claims that current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour corroborated as “for sure happened” on Wednesday.

Here’s part of Aliu’s comments on Twitter, which Aliu then expanded upon to TSN’s Frank Servalli.

Again, Peters addressed the incident, but didn’t mention Aliu by name, and also claimed that the comments weren’t directed “at anyone in particular.”

This process still appears to be ongoing, as the Flames and/or NHL continue to investigate claims. As Eric Macramalla details for Forbes, a possible firing situation would become more complicated if Calgary is hoping to fire Peters with just cause, with millions possibly on the line. It’s unclear if those factors played into how Peters’ statement was worded.

Peters was not on the Flames’ bench during the team’s 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Watch some very good dogs race during AHL game (Video)

Rockford IceHogs
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For the fifth consecutive year, the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs showcased the talents of some very good dogs during their Pucks & Paws Night.

Fans were encouraged to bring their pups to BMO Harris Bank Center for the game against the San Antonio Rampage. There were dogs available for adoption and one special pup even got to do the honors for the ceremonial face-off before the game.

So as to not show up the very good dogs, the IceHogs lost 6-0, making the highlight of the evening the highly-anticipated Wiener Dog Race:

The winner of the race was Darby, a very, very good dog, who was focused on the task at hand and took the crown for the second straight year.

If we were running the Dog Rates Twitter account during the game, these pups were easily be worth a 13/10 rating. Easily.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Chicago releases Jan Hejda from tryout

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Saturday featured quite a few instances in which teams cut their training camp rosters down to size, and the Chicago Blackhawks were no exception.

The standout name was Jan Hejda, who was released from professional tryout contract. Forward Tanner Kero also couldn’t make the grade, yet he’ll just go the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Hejda, 37, enjoyed a better outlook when he initially received that PTO back on Sept. 12.

Since then, Chicago bolstered its lineup with full contracts (re-signing Michal Rozsival) and added a PTO defenseman with arguably more in the tank in Lubomir Visnovsky.

At his advanced age, it’s anyone’s guess if Hejda lands with another NHL team or if he’ll need to settle for a job in the AHL or overseas.

If nothing else, the thick resume he brought to Chicago helps his chances of finding work somewhere else.

As CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers notes, the Blackhawks’ training camp roster is now down to 36 players.

Blackhawks ink Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year contract

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The Chicago Blackhawks have come to terms with forward Dennis Rasmussen on a one-year contract.

Rasmussen spent the 2014-15 season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs scoring 13 goals and 27 points in 73 games.

The Blackhawks signed Rasmussen to a one-year, entry-level contract worth $925,000 last June after his third season with Vaxjo HC of the Swedish Hockey League.

Ciampini, Visentin sign one-year deals with Rockford

Forward Daniel Ciampini and goaltender Mark Visentin have signed one-year American Hockey League deals with Rockford, the club announced.

Ciampini completed his fourth season at Union College leading the Dutchmen with 26 goals and 50 points in 39 games during the 2014-15 season. The 24-year-old signed an amateur tryout contract with the Worcester Sharks in March and scored three goals and six points in 15 AHL games.

Visentin was a first-round pick (27th overall) by the Arizona Coyotes at the 2010 NHL Draft. He missed the entire 2014-15 season due to injury. Visentin turned pro with the Portland Pirates during the 2012-13 season. In 45 games with Portland during the 2013-14 season, Visentin posted a 14-19-6 record to go along with a 3.25 G.A.A. and a .902 save percentage.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Waterdown, Ontario native made his NHL debut with the Coyotes in a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on April 12, 2014.