Akim Aliu says he believes Bill Peters' derogatory treatment of him played a big role in the defenseman never becoming an established NHLer.
Aliu sat down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean in an interview that aired Saturday night. He discussed what's taken place since he publicly accused Peters of racial abuse that occurred during their time together in the AHL in 2010.
"When you look at the stuff that happened with Bill Peters, I truly believe he ruined and deterred my career," said Aliu when asked if there should be a moratorium on misconduct. "But it's a tough question to answer for me because my career has gone out the window and he's been making millions of dollars in the NHL. But yeah, I really do believe that everyone deserves a second chance."
Aliu accused the former Calgary Flames head coach of saying the N-word toward him for his choice of music in the dressing room. Two players on the team corroborated Aliu's story, and in an apology issued as the Flames investigated the matter, Peters admitted to using the offensive language.
The former coach resigned shortly thereafter, and Aliu told MacLean interactions like what he experienced with Peters are holding back the growth of hockey's culture.
"Obviously I'm going to hit some nerves here and touch on subjects that people don't really want to talk about, but I feel like if a colored person or someone of minority does something the same as maybe a caucasian person it's looked at a little bit differently," Aliu said. "What they wear, how they act, what kind of music they listen to, how they speak.
"I felt for a lot of my career, I was walking on eggshells in the room."
The Chicago Blackhawks drafted Aliu in the second round in 2007. He only played seven NHL games - all with the Flames - but also appeared professionally in the AHL, ECHL, and in Europe from 2008 to 2019.
The 30-year-old met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in early December, and he said there's "big change coming" after the league called the discussion "productive and candid."