Tim Peel’s career as an NHL referee ended after a television microphone picked up his voice saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators.
On Wednesday, the league announced that Peel “will no longer work NHL games now or in the future.” Peel, 54, had already made plans to retire next month.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” NHL vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “Tim Peel’s conduct is in direct contradiction to the fulfillment of that fundamental principle that we demand of our officials and that of our fans, players, coaches and all those associated with our game that they expect and deserve.”
The NHL determined that it was Peel’s voice that was heard on the television broadcast of the Predators’ home game against the Detroit Red Wings after Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson received a minor trip penalty five minutes after the second period.
“It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a penalty (expletive) against Nashville at the beginning of,” the unidentified official was heard saying before the microphone was cut off. Peel worked on the game with referee Kelly Sutherland.
“There is no justification for his comments, regardless of context or intent,” Campbell said.
The Predators won 2-0 and received four penalties, compared to three for the Red Wings. Nashville’s Matt Duchene in a local radio appearance Wednesday wondered aloud what would have happened if Detroit scored on the power play, won the game and the Predators missed the playoffs by one point.
“The crazy part is that he was talking to (his teammate Filip) Forsberg in that clip, and he told our bench. Really weird ” Duchene said. “I don’t think there is a place in hockey for that. you have to call the game. I’ve always been frustrated when I see calls matched or things like that. If one team is winning power plays, you can’t punish it because the other team isn’t. “
Duchene and other league players question that “catch-up calls” are a regular part of hockey, though he acknowledged that “there are definitely nights you’re skeptical.”
“Some of the good umpires definitely have a feel for the game and they know the ebbs and flows and they know they should try to keep the game as even as possible unless the play dictates otherwise,” said the New York Rangers forward, Ryan Strome. “But as players, all that can be asked is that they try to call it as fair as possible.”
Washington center Nicklas Backstrom, a 14-year veteran, said the incident was a first for him.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this,” Backstrom said. “I think maybe it’s a shame that it happened and it came out that way, but at the same time, the league had to do what it had to do.”
Most of the players and coaches expressed respect for the officials on the ice and lamented how difficult their job is to control the fast-paced game.. Buffalo interim coach Don Granato said he has “full faith” in the people who work for the NHL.
“(Peel) made a mistake, but unfortunately you don’t want comp calls to be part of the game,” Edmonton’s Adam Larsson said. “I don’t think that is correct. I think if it’s obvious, I don’t think it should be compensated. “
AP freelance reporter Jim Diamond in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.
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