Akim Aliu Says AHL Staffer Tony Deynzer Impersonated Him with Blackface in 2011

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 23:  Akim Aliu #29 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on April 23, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Former NHL player Akim Aliu said a staff member of the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles dressed up like him and wore blackface to a Halloween party.

Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal (h/t Nate Chute of the Fort Collins Coloradoan) reported equipment manager Tony Deynzer wore blackface, an Afro wig and a jersey with the name "DREAMER" on the back to a party Aliu attended. 

"The hardest thing about that ... just how much planning went into that," Aliu said in an interview with TMZ Sports in an interview published Thursday. "He got my jersey made, so that means this was planned in advance."

Aliu played just 10 games with the Eagles before being granted a trade he requested, per Chute.

"Aliu says people at the party laughed at him—and his instinct was to raise hell and cause a scene—but he was new to the club and there were families at the party 'so I tried to play it off as cool as possible,'" TMZ wrote of the incident.

The Eagles released a statement that said the organization "had no prior knowledge" of the event even though it "deeply saddens us":

Colorado Eagles @ColoradoEagles

An open apology from the Colorado Eagles to Akim Aliu (@Dreamer_Aliu78) https://t.co/HCGlzItFDR

In late November, Aliu said former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters, then serving as head coach of the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, "dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room" because he was upset with the player's music choice.

Peters resigned following an investigation.

"People don't really understand how bad it is unless you're on the inside of the hockey world, inside the hockey establishment," Aliu said of racism problems in hockey during his interview with TMZ. "I've dealt with a lot. I think my career has faltered because of that."