The Calgary Flames did their best to distance themselves from the controversy swirling around head coach Bill Peters.
Matthew Tkachuk started his media availability Wednesday morning by stating he would only take questions about hockey ahead of the team’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
The other two Flames trotted out were brief, at best, with their answers on a tumultuous stretch that began when a former player alleged Peters directed racist comments at him when both were in the minors 10 years ago.
Then another former player alleged Peters kicked him and punched a teammate when they were all with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Flames are attempting to keep things tight to the vest as they continue their investigation, but one of Peters’ former assistants added to the intense scrutiny at the other end of New York state.
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who spent four seasons behind Carolina’s bench with Peters, confirmed his boss confronted players in a physical manner.
“It for sure happened, the two issues that are in question,” Brind’Amour told reporters in New York before his team’s game against the Rangers.
Former Hurricanes defenceman Michal Jordan, who now plays overseas, made the allegation Tuesday on Twitter.
“Never wish anything bad to the person but you get what you deserve Bill,” Jordan said. “Kicking me and punching other player to the head during the game then pretending like nothing happened…couldn’t believe my eyes.”
That came on the heels of Monday’s explosive tweets from another former NHLer, Akim Aliu, who wrote that Peters directed racial slurs towards him when both were with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in 2009-10.
Born in Nigeria and raised in Ukraine and Canada, Aliu never referred to Peters by name, but used Calgary’s airport code “YYC” when writing about the alleged coach who “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.”
Aliu has not responded to interview requests from The Canadian Press.
While he confirmed Jordan’s story, Brind’Amour said he was “proud” of the way those incidents were handled by both the players and management.
“It was definitely dealt with, in my opinion, correctly,” he said. “We’ve definitely moved past that.”
Peters, meanwhile, remains employed by the Flames, but isn’t currently with the team.
Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who is conducting the investigation, was not made available to reporters Wednesday.
The allegations levied against Peters and the revelation of some questionable motivational tactics used by former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock have raised questions about how people in positions of power deal with players in today’s game.
The Toronto Sun and Postmedia reported Babcock, who was fired last week, asked a rookie to draw up a list during the 2016-17 season that ranked his teammates from hardest- to least-hardest working. Babcock then shared that list with some of the veterans at the bottom of the ledger.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press