Pro hockey player Akim Aliu says he’s spoken with the Colorado Eagles equipment manager who wore blackface to a team Halloween party … and has accepted the staffer’s apology.
As we previously reported, Aliu says Tony Deynzer dressed up as him for the minor league hockey team’s 2011 Halloween party … with a custom jersey and blackface.
Aliu says he took photos with Deynzer at the time because he didn’t want to create a scene — but told TMZ Sports he was FURIOUS.
Now, Aliu and the Colorado Eagles have issued a joint statement saying they not only talked things out — but Aliu requested the team to NOT fire the guy.
“Mr. Aliu also spoke with Tony Deynzer who had requested to speak with him about the incident,” the statement said.
“The content of that conversation will remain private, suffice to say that Mr. Deynzer offered a heartfelt and emotional apology directly to Mr. Aliu which Mr. Aliu accepted.”
Aliu added his own statement saying, “I accepted the apology by the Eagles and by Mr. Deynzer. I believe that we must confront racism head on.”
“I believe the time for big positive change in the sport has arrived and that this moment can be used to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and safety in the sport and our community”
Eagles owner Martin Lind says the team has issued a formal apology as well — noting, “Listening to Akim was both emotional and inspirational and a very moving moment in my career.”
“I let him know how sorry we were as an organization and how it in no way reflects our values. I was appreciative that Akim was willing to take my call and listen to what we had to say.”
TMZ Sports recently spoke with Aliu who says he believes there’s a widespread race issue in hockey at all levels … and he wants to help change the culture for good.