Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters has resigned, the team announced. The decision comes after an investigation was launched into allegations of misconduct by the coach, including use of racial slurs and physical abuse.
The Flames announced that they accepted Peters's letter of resignation at a press conference. He sent the letter to the team on Friday morning. This all comes several days after a piece was published by TSN detailing some of the allegations of racism made by Akim Aliu, who played for Peters with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs in 2009-2010.
Geoff Ward will take over the coaching duties in Calgary on an interim basis, Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced.
Treliving clarified that the team had never heard of any allegations of this type against Peters until Aliu spoke up recently.
"Were we aware of any of these types of allegations? Categorically no," the general manager said at the press conference. "In terms of due diligence, we do do due diligence. We do a full scrub on any hire and I did speak to previous employers of Bill."
According to Aliu, Peters used racial slurs "several times" while addressing the then 20-year-old rookie winger in the locker room that season.
"He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said 'Hey Akim, I'm sick of you playing that n----- s---,' " Aliu told TSN about Peters' reaction to Aliu listening to rap music in the locker room. "He said 'I'm sick of hearing this n-----s f------ other n-----s in the ass stuff.'"
Two of Aliu's IceHogs teammates at the time, Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, individually corroborated his story to TSN. Aliu's account also alleges Peters never apologized for the incident, but instead doubled down in the coach's office with another racial slur.
After the allegations surfaced, the NHL announced that they were looking into the "repugnant and unacceptable" behavior. At the press conference on Friday, Treliving said the team's investigation into the matter has been completed.
On Wednesday, Peters essentially admitted that those allegations were true when he released a written statement to Flames general manager Brad Treliving. The coach apologized for "offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago" and said that the racial slurs he used were "made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values."
While Peters admitted to using the offensive language, the coach's statement claimed he immediately apologized to the team and that his words were not "directed at anyone in particular." Peters didn't name Aliu in his apology, nor did he specifically address the nature of the incident or the events leading up to it.
Peters has also since been accused of physically abusing his players, specifically during his tenure as Carolina Hurricanes head coach from 2014-2018. Former Hurricanes forward Michael Jordan alleged that the coach kicked him and punched another player in the head during a game. Multiple Hurricanes sources, including current Canes head coach Rod Brind'Amour, corroborated those claims this week. Brind'Amour said both of the incidents alleged by Jordan "for sure happened."
Calgary may be able to avoid paying Peters his remaining salary if it's determined that he voided a morality clause in the contract he signed with the team in 2018.
Peters took over as head coach in Calgary in 2018 and coached the Flames to a 50-25-7 record in his first season. The club clinched its first division title since 2006 before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The Flames are 11-12-4 through 27 games this season.