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NHL reacts swiftly to hot-mic embarrassment, drops veteran referee Tim Peel

Justin Cuthbert
·4-min read

Are there make-up calls made regularly in the NHL? Most people who have watched the game long enough would probably say, yes.

Is there tolerance for admitting this as a truth? Nope. Actually none at all.

Long-time NHL official Tim Peel learned that the hard way after being caught on a hot mic on a local broadcast in Tuesday's clash between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings, admitting that he found a reason to call an infraction against the home team — in this case Nashville — presumably to make up for a perceived injustice earlier in the game.

Tim Peel officiated his last NHL game on Tuesday night. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Tim Peel officiated his last NHL game on Tuesday night. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Peel wasn't unable to finish his thought on the hot mic, but was caught saying, "there wasn't much, but I wanted to get a f—ing penalty against Nashville early in the—" after whistling Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson for tripping.

Here's that smoking gun, courtesy Twitter user @bestofmatt:

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That clear manipulation of the game which, again, most fans and onlookers have come to accept, was enough for the NHL to determine that Peel's time officiating in the NHL — for the rest of this season and in the future — is through.

His termination was made official through an early-morning press release from the NHL, shared roughly 12 hours after the game had finished.

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“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a release.

“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."

It's worth noting that Peel, a veteran of more than 1,300 games, was weeks away from refereeing his last game, with plans to retire by the end of the season.

Whatever Peel's intentions were — whether it was to even up the calls or give the hapless Red Wings a fighting chance — this sort of manipulation shouldn't happen at all, but certainly can't be confessed out loud.

The NHL is just entering partnerships with gaming services and sportsbooks, and protecting the integrity of the game and impartiality of the officials is of utmost importance, especially when exploring that space.

Kelly Sutherland was Peel's officiating partner in the game, but it appears that the explanation was directed at the Predators themselves, and more specifically forward Filip Forsberg, instead of another official.

Predators centre Matt Duchene was asked about the incident on an appearance with Robby and Rexrode on ESPN 102.5 The Game on Wednesday morning, revealing that Peel directed the message heard on the hot mic straight to the team's bench.

"That just can't happen," Duchene said, calling Peel's actions "bizarre."

"Imagine the scenario where they score on that power play and we lose the game and miss the playoffs by one point. That could happen, right? I have always been frustrated when I see even-up calls like that. If one team is earning power plays, you can't punish them because they're (playing well) and the other team is not.

"That call was not a good call. We were watching and we were like, 'what the heck was that? That wasn't even close to a penalty.'"

It's possible that it was Forsberg responding, "Yeah, I know," in the clip, which would suggest that he wasn't necessarily outraged, but Duchene seems to speak for the Predators, and most people, when saying that the game should just be called as it is.

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