In the wake of a number of incidents tied into coaching abuse and personnel misconduct over the past couple of weeks, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Monday a multi-faceted, league-wide plan to address said issues going forward.
Speaking at the end of the first day of the Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., Bettman addressed, in particular, the situation out in Calgary, in which the Flames parted ways with head coach Bill Peters after multiple former players accused Peters of using racial slurs and committing physical abuse during various stops of his coaching career.
“Inclusion and diversity are not simply buzzwords, they are foundational principles for the NHL,” Bettman said in a league release. “It’s why we initiated the Declaration of Principles and why we invest so much time and effort, along with so many resources into our Learn to Play and Hockey is For Everyone programs. Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.”
Akim Aliu, who played for Peters over two seasons in the AHL (Rockford IceHogs), said that his former coach used racial slurs multiple times in Rockford’s locker room after disapproving of the choice of music played within the room. The incident was confirmed later by a pair of Aliu’s Rockford teammates.
Michal Jordan, who was coached by Peters for two seasons in Carolina, accused his coach of physical abuse — both against him and a teammate. Current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant coach on Peters’ staff at the time, backed up Jordan’s claims when speaking to the media back in late November.
Peters’ is far from the only coach either let go or accused of similar misconduct. Former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has been under fire over the last few weeks for his coaching missteps in both Toronto and Detroit — with former Red Wing Johan Franzen tabbing him as the “the worst person I've ever met” for his repeated verbal attacks.
Current Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford has also been placed on leave since Sean Avery accused him of physical abuse while both were with the Kings during the 2006-07 season.
Amid all these incidents, Bettman unveiled the multiple facets of the league’s plan to curb such behavior going forward, including: