*UPDATE* The NHL has announced that referee Tim Peel will no longer be working NHL games “now or in the future.” This announcement comes the morning after Peel was heard on a hot mic saying he “wanted” to call something against Nashville. Here was the full announcement from the league:
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 24, 2021
Here’s the full text of this earlier report about the incident.
The NHL may be in some hot water after last night’s “hot mic” incident involving a referee at the Nashville Predators and Red Wings game.
The incident occurred about five minutes into the 2nd period when referee Tim Peel called Viktor Arvidsson for tripping in the Preds’ defensive zone. The call was suspect, but nothing new for Tim Peel, who is one of the most disliked referees in the league currently. Here’s a look at the play (and the reaction from Preds’ color commentator Chris Mason):
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) March 24, 2021
It looked like a very weak call, not to mention the Red Wings player took a pretty obvious dive.
But then the real side show started.
As Fox Sports Tennessee was cutting away to commercial, a hot mic caught what sounds like Tim Peel discussing why he made the call. Here’s a sound clip of the audio, followed by a transcription:
Did anyone else catch that hot mic moment during the Preds broadcast? LOL pic.twitter.com/wpSJY15Tem
— Lindsey (@LMF1208) March 24, 2021
Peel is heard saying “it wasn’t much but I wanted to get a f***ing penalty against Nashville” and then the audio cuts out. In another version of it, you can hear him saying “early in the” after the word Nashville, indicating that he planned to make a call against Nashville early in the period.
So there it is: an NHL referee blatantly admitting to “looking for” or “wanting to call” something on a team just… to make up an earlier call? To make the game more even? Just because?
NHL looking into incident
This audio clip spread like wildfire last night on hockey twitter. If the NHL wanted to try and bury it, it doesn’t look like they will be able to do that. Multiple major hockey publications have mentioned this incident, as it is a terrible look for the league and for its officiating arm.
And now it appears the league will be “looking into” the incident, whatever that means.
Hard to say where this goes over the next day or so, but the NHL is definitely looking into the “hot mic” incident discussing a penalty call from the DET/NASH game
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 24, 2021
Don’t expect swift judgment from the league, or even a very public apology, as the league doesn’t treat officiating issues the same way it does player issues.
The league handles referee discipline internally, unlike player discipline, which is quite public. Refs can get fined, suspended, even fired from the league for a variety of reasons. In 2008, referee Dean Warren was fired for “substandard performance” and other refs have been fined or suspended for their interactions with coaches and players.
Certainly this kind of behavior from Tim Peel is worth at least a fine and a suspension, if not more.
Fans of the NHL have long complained that officiating is inconsistent, and many have called for more transparent accountability of referees. It’s easy to watch your favorite team and not think the referees “have it out” for them.
But then to hear it admitted on audio? And with such disdain, even including an F-bomb?
That’s not going to be ignored by hockey fans, especially not Nashville Predators fans.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —