In last night’s game between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings, referee Tim Peel was caught on a hot mic suggesting that he had made a make-up call, despite there being little evidence of a penalty. After the clip spread, the league investigated and has now announced Peel will no longer be working NHL games “now or in the future.”
Executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell released a statement:
Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game. 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.
Peel was expected to retire at the end of the season. This is not the first time he has been embroiled in controversy. Six years ago, when working at Yahoo Sports, Greg Wyshynski (now of ESPN) released a piece in which Peel suggested that the NHL instructs their officials to “manage the game a certain way,” including on calls that would not usually be a penalty. Obviously, that controversy died out at some point, but this new one was too much even for the veteran referee to withstand.
The NHL so rarely comments on officiating at all that his removal—the release carefully does not indicate he has been fired or released—still comes as a bit of a surprise, despite the evidence.