Colorado Avalanche Affiliate Eagles Caught in Racism Scandal

LOVELAND, CO - FEBRUARY 6: Colorado Eagles players' skates during practice on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LOVELAND, CO - FEBRUARY 6: Colorado Eagles players' skates during practice on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate team, the Eagles, are now in a scandal stemming from images from a party several years ago.

The Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate Eagles are suddenly caught up in the day of reckoning happening across hockey.

Photos emerged of their equipment manager, Tony Deynzer, dressed as Akim Aliu for a Halloween party. Normally, dressing as one of the players on your team wouldn’t be a big issue. However, Deynzer’s costume apparently called for him to do something beyond the pale — apply blackface.

Aliu was born in Nigeria, and he’s made news recently by speaking out about the abuse and racism he experienced, which partially derailed his career.

The photos that are surfacing, and that are published in the Wall Street Journal, are from the team’s official Halloween party in 2011. According the the WSJ story, the team told Aliu to “come a little later” than the other players.

The reason for these instructions were apparently so Deynzer could get kitted out in his “costume,” which in addition to the blackface include an Afro-style wig. Just after Aliu arrived to the team party, Deynzer came out in his getup. Party-goers, which included teammates and their families as well as other Eagles staffers, urged Aliu to take a picture with Deynzer.

You can see in the photo from the WSJ story that Deynzer is grinning. Aliu, understandably, looks gut-punched. (Click on the link):

In the story, Aliu reports that “Guys just started laughing.”

At the time of writing, Deynzer didn’t respond to attempts to reach him. The Eagles released a statement that they “had absolutely no knowledge of this event, therefore we feel it would be premature to comment at this time.”

At the time of the party, the Eagles were an ECHL team associated with the Winnipeg Jets.

A brief history on blackface: It was a theatrical form of makeup used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The purpose was for non-black performers to represent caricatures of black persons.

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Blackface is racist by its very definition. Racism is partially defined as “antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior,” which is the exact purpose of blackface.

I can’t conceive of anyone in the 21st-century not understanding they’re committing a racist act by donning blackface. It’s akin to using the n-word.

Looking at the picture, I am appalled. I can’t get over the idea that people this man, Aliu, trusted betrayed him to the core. His teammates and co-workers were so disrespectful of him as a person that they reduced his existence to a caricature.

At the time of writing, Deynzer is still listed as the head equipment manager for the team. I don’t know what, if any, repercussions will come about because of his ill-advised Halloween costume from 2011.

I will say — he had to know what he was doing was beyond the pale and had the potential to hurt his co-worker. That alone should make him a bad employee for the Eagles to have.

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What do you think, Colorado Avalanche fans? Remember, what happens with the Eagles also reflects on the parent team. They weren’t associated with the Avalanche at the time, but they are now. And the story is in the now.