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The Peters Fiasco

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We now have a major news story that I am uniquely situated in the liberal blogosphere to cover, so I’d better get to it. I’ll have more later, but he’s a summary of the series of events:

  • It was revealed while the Flames were playing the Penguins on Monday that Flames coach Bill Peters had used the “n” word several times in a tirade about hip-hop music directed at prospect Akim Aliu. Aliu’s account was corroborated by two teammates.
  • It was also revealed that Peters had physically assaulted two players when coaching the Hurricanes. In one of those cases a player who observed the incident was so furious he went to upper management, and the decision to give Peters an extension created a lot of tension within the team. To make the meatball a little spicier, the GM who gave the extension was Ron Francis, the GM of the new Seattle expansion franchise.
  • Peters was immediately taken off the bench and didn’t coach the team for its win in Buffalo on Wednesday. He did issue a widely derided “I apologize if you were offended” statement that apologized to the Flames organization but not Aliu. Even granting that it seems to have been written to say something while avoiding material admissions he might be civilly liable for, it was bad. According to Aliu, he was also lying when he claimed to have immediately apologized.
  • According to all accounts I can find the delay between the story breaking on Monday and his “resignation” today was not caused by indecision in the Flames front office about whether he could continue to coach the team, but was more a question of the investigations and negotiations required because the team wanted to fire him for cause and Peters (whose career as an NHL coach is almost certainly over) wanting to get paid. Whether he got a financial settlement when he resigned remains unclear.
  • I’ll say more on this on my next post, but one crucial bit of detail is that Aliu decided to come forward because Peters is a protege of Mike Babcock, the recently deposed coach of the Maple Leafs. The team had very clearly quit on Babcock, and it was revealed that inter alia he had asked one of the team’s young stars to rank players on the team by work ethic. Once Marner did it, Babcock immediately told the veterans Marner had put just above himself at the bottom of the list. There’s a good conversation that will hopefully continue about the toxic culture that often surrounds the coaching of both professionals and amateurs. I hope the takeaway from this won’t be “any abuse of players is OK as long as it doesn’t literally involve racial slurs or punches.”
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