Why the NHL had no other choice but to make an example of Tim Peel

Referee Tim Peel (20) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Referee Tim Peel (20) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Tim Peel left the NHL with no other choice but to put an end to his officiating career.

We were handed a rather big dollop of controversy on Tuesday night when veteran NHL Referee Tim Peel was caught on an open mic saying that he wanted to give the Nashville Predators a penalty in their 2-0 shutout win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Peel, who had officiated 1,334 games since October 1999 and was due to retire at the end of 2020-21, has displayed poor judgement before in his career but this incident last night was a real alarming decision and it has led to the NHL banning Peel and making it clear that he will not officiate another game in the National Hockey League, now or in the future.

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In case you missed this, and I mean that is pretty hard given that it has been all over social media, but during the second period, Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was called for a trip on Red Wings defenseman Jon Merrill.

Arvidsson was livid at the time the penalty was called and, when you watch the play back, it does look as though Merrill may have made the most of it. But that wasn’t the most shocking part. As the broadcast went to commercial break, Tim Peel was caught on the open mic saying this: “It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a f**kin penalty against Nashville early in the,” before the audio cut off.

Now, firstly, that is bordering on stupidity by Peel who knew that he was mic’d up and, secondly, when you combine what he said with the nature of the penalty itself, it is abundantly clear that the National Hockey League had no other choice but to ban Peel.

NHL did right by banning Tim Peel, but more needs to be done on “game management”

What is even more alarming is the fact that Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene, speaking on the “Robby & Rexrode Show” on ESPN Radio earlier today, said the following about Tim Peel: “He told our bench that, so I mean, really bizarre. I just think it can’t happen. Imagine the scenario where they score on that power play, we lose the game and we miss the Playoffs by a point. Imagine that scenario. That can happen, right? That can happen based on – that’s not out of the realm of possibility. I don’t think there’s a place in hockey for that. You’ve got to call the game. I’ve always been frustrated when I see even-up calls.”

Duchene makes some very good and valid points and it is clear that Peel was, for whatever reason, determined to bring his own justice against the Nashville Predators, no matter what, which can’t happen when you are an official in the NHL or any major sports for that matter.

The fact that Peel also took the time to go over to the Predators bench and say the same thing directly to the players is damn right unprofessional, and it is clear that the veteran’s conduct went against everything the NHL believes in and strives for when it comes to their officials.

As a result, it isn’t surprising that Peel has been banned forever from taking charge of any NHL games, and the league had no other choice to not only react quickly to this unfortunate event, but to also come down incredibly hard on the guilty party.

Their work isn’t done though.

Take a quick scan of any story covering this matter and the comments underneath it, and the common theme is that the overall integrity of the game needs to be protected and the NHL now needs to use this event as an opportunity to spark major change in the way games are officiated.

Viktor Arvidsson (33)
Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Look, we all know make-up calls are interwoven in the fabric of the game and even retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser admitted that there have been times he would wish for a penalty to fall in to his lap, but what was most shocking about Tim Peel’s actions was how explicit he was in his actual intent.

At the end of the day, every single shift should be officiated and called based on the facts that happen on the ice, not called based on anything that has come before. You only have to watch a lot of games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to know that “game management” and make-up calls comes into play a lot when it comes to officiating, and that results in the overall standard of officiating varying greatly from period to period, game to game and series to series, which isn’t what you want in the heat of the postseason.

If you see a penalty, call it. If you don’t see a penalty, then don’t call it. Nothing else should influence that.

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So, while the National Hockey League was absolutely right to ban Tim Peel given how shocking his actions were, they must now work to ensure that what happened on Tuesday night between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings is eventually stamped out of the game altogether because, let’s face it, Tim Peel isn’t alone in making intentional calls and his downfall needs to be used as a lightning rod by the league when it comes to ensuring other officials cut out game management and make-up calls.