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Former Blackhawks prospect Akim Aliu alleges racial mistreatment while playing in Hawks’ farm system

Aliu tweeted Monday that former Rockford IceHogs coach Bill Peters repeatedly called him the N-word during the 2009-10 season, and that the Hawks demoted him to the ECHL for fighting back.

Akim Aliu was a Blackhawks second-round selection in 2007.
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Former Blackhawks prospect and second-round pick Akim Aliu alleged Monday that while playing in Hawks’ organization, Aliu was repeated called a racial slur, then demoted to the ECHL for pushing back.

In a series of tweets, Aliu accused Bill Peters — coach of the Rockford IceHogs from 2008 to 2011, now the Flames coach — of referring to him by the N-word “several times” during the 2009-10 season, Aliu’s first as a professional.

Aliu, a native of Nigeria, said he “rebelled” against Peters’ use of such language.

He accused that Peters then “wrote a letter” to current Hawks president John McDonough and general manager Stan Bowman, asking them to demote Aliu to the ECHL in spite of Aliu’s productivity at the AHL level.

In an interview with TSN on Tuesday, Aliu said the racist incident happened a few weeks before his ECHL demotion and stemmed from Peters’ distaste of his locker room music choices. He said he never contacted the Hawks front office about the issue.

The Blackhawks issued the following statement on the matter Tuesday morning: “The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously. The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu.”

Peters declined to speak to media after the Flames’ loss to the Penguins on Monday. The NHL and the Flames organization are both reportedly “looking into” Aliu’s claims, as of Tuesday morning.

In the 2009-10 season, Aliu played 48 AHL games and 13 ECHL games in the Hawks’ system. He was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers after the season in the Dustin Byfuglien deal, and later made seven NHL appearances for the Flames between 2011 and 2013 (before Peters was hired). Now 30, he played last season for Orlando of the ECHL and has yet to sign with a team for 2019-20.

Aliu was seemingly prompted to reveal the incident because of reports of player mistreatment by recently fired Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who had hired Peters to join his Red Wings coaching staff in 2011.

Aliu’s tweets are below: