Months after shaking the hockey world by publicly accusing then-current Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters of directing racial slurs towards him in 2009-10 while the two were members of the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs, Akim Aliu is ensuring that the conversation he began continues on.
In an interview with Ron MacLean, which aired during the first intermission of Hockey Night in Canada, Aliu held nothing back, discussing the impact Peters had on his career and professional life in a refreshingly candid manner.
“I felt for a long part of my career I was walking on eggshells in the room.”@Dreamer_Aliu78 sat down with @RonMacLeanHTH to talk about hockey culture's issues with race and how we can work to make the game more inclusive.#TheShift | #HockeyNighthttps://t.co/68UpczsxW6— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 19, 2020
“I truly believe (Bill Peters) ruined and deterred my career,” Aliu asserted.
“But it’s a tough question to answer for me because my career’s gone out the window and he’s been making millions of dollars in the NHL”
Aliu’s credible accusations against Peters served as a watershed moment for all of hockey. In the days that followed, the NHL launched an internal investigation into the veteran coach that ultimately ended with him outright resigning, creating a ripple effect that soon led to other former NHL players deciding to go public with their own stories of abuse suffered at the hands of their coaches.
Amidst the fundamental shift he started, Aliu is ensuring that hockey’s shift in values is not a witch hunt, but rather a needed purge of the hate and bigotry which have plagued the sport for so long.
“I’m not trying to burn the whole village down,” Aliu explained.
“I really do believe that everyone deserves a second chance”
Aliu’s message, regardless of all that has surrounded it, is one of positivity. Even after a hectic past few months, he still believes that the fallout of his seminal decision should be used as a lesson for growth, hopefully ushering hockey into a new, and better era.
If nothing else, one thing is for sure: Aliu’s impact on the entire sport will be looked back upon as among the most important in recent memory.
More NHL coverage on Yahoo Sports