I thought right winger Akim Aliu played well enough through the first fourteen games of the season to warrant at least an AHL contract offer from the Hamilton Bulldogs
For reasons that we’ll never know for sure, the Bulldogs disagreed.
The Nigerian-born Aliu was signed to a training camp tryout contract after being let go by the Calgary Flames organization in July. The Canadiens saw enough of the 6’4” 225 lb right winger that they cautiously offered him a twenty-five game professional tryout contract.
With eleven games remaining in his tryout eligibility the Canadiens had seen enough. Despite three goals and an assist in fourteen games, they released him.
The Canadiens were fascinated by Aliu’s size and natural skills. They were also aware of the bad dressing room and off-ice reputation that has dogged him since his days as a 16 year old with the Junior Windsor Spitfires and everybody can’t be wrong.
Over eight years since that fight with Windsor teammate Steve Downie over a hazing ritual, Aliu moved on to play with two more junior teams then, after being drafted by Chicago, played on three ECHL teams, five AHL teams while moving through the Blackhawks, Thrashers/Jets, Flames and now the Canadiens NHL organizations.
Off ice discipline and character rates very highly in Marc Bergevin’s player assessment. In some of those areas, Aliu’s lack of maturity has brought him up short once again. At the age of 24 his options are rapidly disappearing.