Report: Avalanche put AHL staffer on leave for wearing blackface at party with Akim Aliu

Jack Baer
·Writer

In the latest piece of fallout from former Calgary Flames player Akim Aliu breaking his silence about the racism he experienced in his career, the Colorado Avalanche have placed a staffer from their AHL affiliate on administrative leave after a photo surfaced of the staffer wearing blackface at a 2011 Halloween party, according to ESPN.

Tony Deynzer, the head equipment manager of the Colorado Eagles, wore blackface, an Afro-style wig and an Eagles jersey with Aliu’s “Dreamer” nickname to the party, Aliu told the Wall Street Journal.

Aliu said he was invited to the Eagles’ Halloween party shortly after joining the team, but was reportedly told to come “a little bit later.” When Aliu arrived and poured himself a beer, he reportedly saw Deynzer in his full “costume.”

The partygoers reportedly pushed Aliu to take a picture with Deynzer. As you can see, Aliu was not very amused.

“Guys just started laughing,” Aliu said to the Journal. “All I can do is tell my story.”

The Eagles responded to news of the incident breaking Wednesday with an open apology posted to Twitter, though they didn’t mention what would become of Deynzer.

Aliu rocked the hockey world last month by going public with tweets detailing the racist abuse he experienced from since-fired Flames coach Bill Peters when the two were with the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. Aliu, who retired last year, alleged Peters used the n-word repeatedly toward him.

From TSN:

“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n----- s---,’ ” Aliu told TSN, with Peters, who was then the Ice Hogs head coach, referring to Aliu’s selection of hip-hop music. “He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n-----s f------ other n-----s in the ass stuff.’

Peters has since confirmed the incident took place in an apology that Aliu called “misleading, insincere and concerning.”

That combined with the Deynzer incident shows just how much the world of hockey failed Aliu in his career. The NHL has since met with the player, and is reportedly working on a code of conduct to prevent similar sagas in the future.

CALGARY, CANADA - APRIL 7: Akim Aliu #29 of the Calgary Flames skates to the bench after socring his first NHL goal against the Anaheim Ducks on April 7, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
Akim Aliu was reportedly surprised at a Halloween party by a staffer wearing blackface. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

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