NHL Announces New Initiatives to Combat Racist and Abusive Behavior

Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters resigned last month for using a racial slur

NHL Announces New Initiatives to Combat Racist and Abusive Behavior
Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League. (Bruce Bennett/Getty)
Getty Images

Following the resignation of Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters last month after two former players came forward with abuse allegations including that he used racist language and slurs, the NHL has announced new initiatives that will combat inappropriate behavior.

“Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind,”  league commissioner Gary Bettman announced at the NHL’s board of governors meeting on Monday.

To help prevent abusive behavior, the league is establishing a phone hotline for current and former team personnel that will allow inappropriate conduct by team officials to be reported anonymously.

In addition to the hotline, which is similar to the one the league has in place for substance abuse and behavioral health, the league is also establishing an annual program on “counseling, consciousness-raising, education and training on diversity and inclusion.”

Though players won’t be required to attend, the program will be required for all NHL coaches, general managers and assistant general managers. Minor league coaches under NHL contracts will also be required to attend.

“We don’t like surprises. The Bill Peters situation was a complete surprise,” Bettman said. “Going forward, our clubs are on notice that if they become aware of an incident of conduct involving NHL personnel, on or off the ice, that is clearly inappropriate, unlawful or demonstrably abusive or that may violate league policies, either [deputy commissioner] Bill Daly or me must be immediately advised.”

Bettman said there will be a zero-tolerance policy for failure to notify the league of inappropriate behavior and that failure to come forward with reports of abuse will result in “severe discipline.”

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