Akim Aliu says 'big change coming' after meeting with NHL

Thomas Williams
Hockey writer

Akim Aliu — the former NHL player that exposed former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters for his previous use of a racial slur — met with the NHL on Tuesday to discuss the sport’s cultural problems.

The specific topics of discussion were not disclosed, but Aliu did share some positive comments after the meeting in Toronto.

“I really, first of all, want to start with just thanking everyone for their support,” he said. “It obviously means a lot to me. It’s been a tough week but we had some great discussion with Gary [Bettman] and Bill [Daly].

“They couldn’t have been kinder and receptive to the message that we’re trying to bring. I think there’s just some big change coming and it’s long overdue, and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”

Bettman and Daly also released their own statement after meeting with Aliu.

After the meeting, more details slowly leaked out and a clearer picture of what exactly the NHL’s plans are to combat this problem within their sport.

Most interesting — and conceivable — is the whistleblower and retaliation protection for players that decide to speak up. This will hopefully encourage more players to speak up if inappropriate incidents occur in the future, or if they simply want to report past transgressions.

Per Darren Dreger, Aliu may be in attendance for the NHL Board of Governors meetings next week in California.

Following the meeting, the NHL Coaches’ Association released a statement about the recent discussion surrounding the harassment and abuse that players receive from their coaches.

The NHLCA — as of this statement — still has Mike Babcock, the coach that has been in the news for his past emotional abuse of several players, on their Executive Committee.

Aliu blowing the whistle on Peters’s racism led to Peters’ eventual resignation, which was the first of a few employment changes in the hockey world after a spotlight was cast on the sport’s cultural issues.

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