Akim Aliu has two points in first games with Czech club HC Litvinov

Akim Aliu sat down with Ron MacLean to talk about hockey culture’s issues with race, how his career was affected, and what he wants to see change going forward.

Akim Aliu had two points in his first two games with HC Litvinov in the Czech Extraliga — the first two professional games he’s played in since he skated in 14 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears last season.

In his first game — a 4-3 shootout loss to HC Kometa Brno on Jan. 26 — Aliu assisted on a goal scored by teammate Lukáš Válek. After collecting a pass in the corner from Pawel Zygmunt, Aliu fed Válek in the slot so he could fire a backhand shot past the goalie.

In his second game — a 5-1 win over HC Plzeň on Tuesday — Aliu scored his team’s third goal of the game. On a power-play late in the second period, Aliu one-timed a shot from the top of left circle past the goaltender.

The 30-year-old Aliu made headlines late last year when he brought attention to racial slurs his former coach — Bill Peters — made while both were playing for AHL Rockford. Peters eventually resigned from his job with the Calgary Flames and Aliu’s decision to go public opened the door for other players to speak out about unacceptable actions by other coaches.

In early December, Aliu had a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and other executives. After the meeting, Aliu said he believes “some big change” will be coming to hockey culture.

When he signed with HC Litvinov earlier this month, Aliu told The AP that he was hoping his decision to move to Europe wouldn’t slow down the player empowerment momentum he had help spark.

“It was a tough decision,” Aliu said. “We are doing good work here on shining light on the issues in the game. My hesitation was on not losing this momentum.”

HC Litvinov is currently in second-last place in the Czech Extraliga and is at risk of being relegated at the end of the season with 12 games remaining.

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