Following the Board of Governors meeting on Monday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league “will not tolerate abusive behavior”. With the full support of the Board of Governors, NHL is to achieve the goal of eliminating abusive behavior of any kind and raise awareness of the issue by creating special educational programs for team personnel and players.
The announcement was brought forth by recent allegations against specific coaches and their abusive practices. Many of the revelations and incident reports were presented by former NHL player Akim Aliu during a meeting with Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
The topic was further discussed at the beginning of the Board of Governors meeting Monday. The Board agreed unanimously that any report of abusive behavior in the league needs to be followed and new measures have to be put into place to stop these incidents from happening. The NHL Players' Association was also consulted on the issue and agreed to help with the project.
Furthermore, all team executives have been notified that they are required to report on any cases of abusive behavior they are aware of. If they fail to do so, the club and individuals involved will be severely disciplined by the League. In his statement, Bettman also vowed to create an annual program on counseling, consciousness-raising, education and training on diversity and inclusion. Such program would be mandatory for all NHL coaches, assistants, general managers and assistant general managers as well as minor league coaches under contract with an NHL team.
An additional “hotline” will be created to facilitate the process of reporting any incidents within the NHL. The platform will allow its users to remain anonymous if they wish to do so.
"Unfortunately, in this world there are incidents," Commissioner Bettman said. "That doesn't make it all right. One incident is too many. Our goal is to continue to educate, consciousness-raise and do the right thing to keep incidents of inappropriate conduct to a minimum and actually eliminate them entirely, and make sure people understand that our game is open, inclusive and we pride ourselves on our diversity."
The initiative has already had its impact on the league. Following Akim Aliu’s allegations against him, Bill Peters resigned from his position as Calgary Flames coach. According to Aliu, Peters directed racial epithets at him 10 years ago, when Peters was the coach and Aliu a player for Rockford of the American Hockey League.
In addition, just a few hours after Commissioner Bettman’s announcement, Jim Montgomery was fired from his position as coach of the Dallas Stars. While Stars general manager Jim Nill made it clear that the decision had nothing to do with Commissioner’s statement and not all details regarding the case are public, Montgomery was involved in an incident with an employee that was deemed “a material act of unprofessionalism contrary to the values and standards held by the Dallas Stars organization”.