The last several months have been a whirlwind for Akim Aliu, after a tweet went viral accusing former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters of using a racial slur during their time in the Rockford IceHogs organization. Through all the media attention, interviews and meetings with hockey leadership, Aliu has maintained that he is still pursuing a professional career as a player and has not given up on his dream of suiting up in the NHL. Today, Aliu has signed with HC Litvinov in the Czech Extraliga for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
The 30-year old forward has been involved in several controversies over the years, including a hazing incident in junior hockey that he believes hurt his chances in the NHL Entry Draft. Aliu would still be selected 56th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007, but failed to ever get any real traction even in the minor leagues. There were seven NHL games spread across two seasons with the Calgary Flames, but the power forward has spent most of the last few years either overseas or in the ECHL.
While he continues his playing career, Aliu has also now become a figurehead for the NHL’s push to bring hockey to youth that might not normally have an opportunity to play the sport. He sat down with a one-on-one interview with Hockey Night In Canada’s Ron MacLean just a few days ago, to explain what he has gone through since sending that tweet.