LETHBRIDGE, Alberta (AP) — Bill Peters has been hired as the coach of the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, the former Calgary Flames coach's first job in North America since it emerged four years ago that he directed racial slurs at a player in the minors during the 2009-10 season.
The junior team based in the southern part of the Canadian province of Alberta announced the hiring Wednesday, emphasizing Peters completed an anti-racism training and coaching certificate program. WHL Commissioner Ron Robison also endorsed the move.
"After a thorough review, speaking with representatives from Shades of Humanity, and receiving a commitment from Bill to continue on his path of anti-racism, self-growth and redemption, the WHL is satisfied Bill is ready to return to coaching in the WHL,” Robison said. “The journey towards individual and systemic equity learning should be viewed as an ongoing process. Bill has demonstrated that through this process and the WHL remains committed to systemic change through continued education.”
Peters in a statement released by the team said he worked with Shades of Humanity, a diversity, equity and inclusion agency, “to understand and correct my regrettable actions.”
“I have learned a lot through this educational journey and feel ready to return to coaching," he said. "I am in a unique position to guide our next generation of community leaders and to establish a more inclusive culture in hockey.”
The Hurricanes said Peters agreed to a multiyear contract. General manager Peter Anholt said Peters' experience at various levels of the sport “put him at the top of our candidate list” and expects hm to "have a major impact on our team and our players’ and coaches development.”
Peters resigned as coach of the Calgary Flames in 2019 after Akim Aliu alleged 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.” That was when they were with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
Aliu said on social media that a current NHL coach tried to broker a conversation between him and Peters that would include an apology. Sharing his response, Aliu wondered why Peters wanted to apologize now and added he had nothing to say to his former coach.
“Truth be told if I never said anything he would still be coaching in the NHL,” Aliu wrote. “I am all about second chances but only if they are sincere.”
Peters, now 58, coached in Russia for a season-plus with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL in 2020 and '21. He returns to the WHL after coaching Carolina and Calgary in the NHL prior to his resignation.
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