There are few NHL refs that can draw a fan reaction like Tim Peel can. Seeing his name as one of the officials for your team’s game is never a good thing, because you never know what to expect. Could it be competently called? Maybe. Could a blown call result in a controversy? Sure. Could the game be filled with lots of mystery calls and missed calls alike?
Maybe if you're a mic'd up ref, you shouldn't express how you wanted to call a penalty against a team earlier in the game, changing how you ref the rest of the game.— Matt Best (@bestofmatt) March 24, 2021
"It wasn't much but I wanted to get a fuckin' penalty against Nashville early in the..."#Preds #LGRW pic.twitter.com/6fZImkdqLr
Oops. Hot mics are a bear, aren’t they?
Peel, who lives in St. Louis, has been removed from calling games for the rest of the season by the NHL. As he was set to retire at the end of this year, this effectively ends his career on an inauspicious note - but it’s important to note that he wasn’t fired. As a veteran ref with a pending retirement, he’ll still be able to draw his pension at the end of the season. If he may not be able to draw on it.
From the NHL’s press release:
National Hockey League Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell announced today that Referee Tim Peel, following his comments during the game last night between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators, no longer will be working NHL games now or in the future.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” Campbell said. “Tim Peel’s conduct is in direct contradiction to the adherence to that cornerstone principle that we demand of our officials and that our fans, players, coaches and all those associated with our game expect and deserve. There is no justification for his comments, no matter the context or his intention, and the National Hockey League will take any and all steps necessary to protect the integrity our game.”
That is harsh, and it should be. A ref shouldn’t be looking to get a penalty on a team, or on a player - they should be making calls based on one thing: the NHL rulebook.
The problem is, and what this all but confirms for some fans, is that the rulebook is selectively applied. It always has been. It always will be. Oh, a top line forward does something ticky-tack? Maybe we’ll let it go. A grinder does the same thing? Whistle in the mouth. Is it a tight game? Let’s put the whistles away. Have we let the game get out of control by not calling penalties? Time to call everything.
It’s inconsistent at best and irrational at worst. Peel has always been the posterboy for this kind of murkiness in calls, but he’s not the only ref in NHL history to dish out some headscratchers, and he won’t be the last.
For a ref who previously got suspended for a game by the NHL for getting drunk with (then) Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski at a bar, and spilling state secrets such as the NHL orders crackdowns on certain offences, and the refs follow suit.
It’s unsure if the refs ordered a crackdown on the Nashville Predators, but it didn’t work. They won last night’s game by a score of 2-0.