Ex-National Hockey League player Akim Aliu got a public apology from his former team for “wrongdoing” by an equipment manager who was photographed in blackface.
The Colorado Eagles, a minor league hockey team affiliated with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, apologized Wednesday to Aliu for a 2011 incident in which head equipment manager Tony Deynzer was photographed with blackface at a Halloween party.
An Avalanche spokesperson told CNN Deynzer was placed on administrative leave Wednesday.
“As an organization, the discovery of this event deeply saddens us,” the Eagles said in the open letter to Aliu. “Although we had no prior knowledge, that doesn’t excuse or diminish the fact that this has hurt a fellow human being.”
“We are truly very sorry, and we will also assure you that this behavior is not and never will be acceptable in our organization,” the letter said.
Aliu recently accused former coach Bill Peters of using a racial slur against him a decade ago, leading to Peters’ resignation last month from the Calgary Flames.
A source familiar with Aliu’s situation shared a picture of Deynzer and Aliu from the 2011 party.
Aliu told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the incident, that he posed with Deynzer for the picture as “he was in shock” and “didn’t fully realize the gravity of the moment” at the time.
CNN has reached out to Deynzer and the NHL but hasn’t received a response.
On Monday, the NHL announced new steps to combat “inappropriate, unlawful, or demonstrably abusive” behavior in the sport.