One of Mike Babcock’s former assistant coaches is facing accusations of racism.
Bill Peters was Babcock’s assistant for three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings between 2011 and 2014. Peters eventually left Detroit for a head coaching job in Carolina, and is now the head coach of the Calgary Flames.
Before the NHL, however, Peters was the head coach of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. That’s where he coached Akim Aliu, who is now speaking out about the coach and accusing him of using the racial slur “several times," then having him demoted to a lower league over the issue.
Aliu tweeted on Monday:
Not very surprising the things we’re hearing about Babcock. Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree, same sort of deal with his protege in YYC. 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. First one to— Akim Aliu (@Dreamer_Aliu78) November 26, 2019
admit I rebelled against him. Wouldn’t you? And instead of remedying the situation, he wrote a letter to John McDonough and Stan Bowman to have me sent down to the ECHL. 20 year old on pace for 20 goals in his first pro year with zero PP/PK time was off to a great start in his— Akim Aliu (@Dreamer_Aliu78) November 26, 2019
“The behavior that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable. We will have no futher comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the mater more thorughly.”
This all comes out as several former NHL players (more than just Mike Commodore) are speaking out against Babcock after he was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs last week. In one account, Babcock is accused of asking Leafs forward Mitch Marner, when he was just a rookie, “to list the players on the team from hardest-working to those who, in the eyes of the rookie, didn’t have a strong work ethic." The coach then presented this list to other players.
Marner, one of Toronto’s stars, was of course asked about this story on Monday.
“I’d say it was just surprising,” said Marner. “It was so long ago now, honestly I really kind of forgot about it until the report came out. It’s over with now and done with. I was lucky enough the guys that were there with me, none of them took it to heart and they knew it wasn’t up to me.”
Babcock addressed the story on Monday when talking to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
“I was trying to focus on work ethic with Mitch — focusing on role models — ended up not being a good idea. I apologized at (the) time.”