Bill Peters to coach in WHL after disgraceful exit from Flames

Bill Peters, who resigned in disgrace from the Calgary Flames in 2019, was announced as the new head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday, the team announced.

Peters, 58, resigned as Flames head coach in November 2019 in his second season with the franchise. Akim Aliu, who played for Peters in 2009-10 with the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, alleged that Peters “dropped the N-bomb several times towards me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.”

His story was corroborated by two Rockford teammates.

Peters acknowledged the incident happened and called it a “moment of frustration” in a letter of apology at the time. “Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said,” Peters wrote.

He resigned on Nov. 29, 2019.

Aliu, one of the founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, believes the incident “ruined my career before it started.”

Despite being 13 years since the incident and four years since Aliu brought it to light, sources tell ESPN that Peters only sought to apologize to Aliu last week through a third party, apparently in anticipation of this job opportunity.

He posted his response to the third party on X which said, in part, “I am curious as to why he wants to apologize now… At the time of the incident I was leading that team in scoring as the youngest player on the team. He called me the “N” word and instead of apologizing at the time he doubled down and sent me to the East Coast League – I went through a tremendously dark time throughout this whole process. He would berate me and embarrass me in front of the whole team on a daily basis. Truth be told if I never said anything he would still be coaching in the NHL. I am all about second chances but only if they are sincere.”

After resigning from the Flames, Peters resurfaced as a head coach in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League for two seasons, ending in 2021-22. He was most recently an executive with the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

He previously worked in the WHL as an assistant coach (1996-2002) and head coach (2005-08) with the Spokane Chiefs. He was the head coach at the University of Lethbridge for one season (2004-05). Peters was a head coach for the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014 to ’18.

After Aliu came forward, other details about Peters’ conduct as a coach came to light, including allegations that he punched and kicked players while on the bench as the Hurricanes’ coach. Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant on Peters’ staff, confirmed the incident happened.

“Management handled it directly and never heard of it again and never saw anything else after that,” Brind’Amour said.

Hockey writer Gregg Drinnan was first to report that Lethbridge was planning to hire Peters.

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