On Tuesday evening in Nashville, a hot mic captured veteran referee Tim Peel explaining his decision to apply a ‘makeup call’ as soon as he could, in order to give the advantage to a team whom he believes had been wrongfully put under a disadvantage earlier in the game.
Maybe if you're a mic'd up ref, you shouldn't express how you wanted to call a penalty against a team earlier in the game, changing how you ref the rest of the game.
— Matt Best (@bestofmatt) March 24, 2021
On Wednesday morning, the NHL wasted little time relieving Peel of his duties, as outlined in a league-issued release.
“National Hockey League Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell announced today that Referee Tim Peel, following his comments during the game last night between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators, no longer will be working NHL games now or in the future,” the statement read.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” Campbell said. “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.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Winnipeg Jets forward Nate Thompson was quick to defend the long-serving official, outlining the difficulty of reffing NHL hockey and the judgment calls that come within that territory.
“The officials have a tough job; it’s a thankless job, right?,” Thompson told reporters. “They are always in a pretty tough position. I think you see games where there is a lot of penalties called, and then there are games where they just let us play. But it really just depends on the official. I think Tim made a mistake, obviously he shouldn’t have said that. But at the same time, I think everyone makes mistakes. Do I think he should have lost his job over it? I don’t think so. But you know, that’s the league’s call. It’s unfortunate, but at the same time there is no place for that in the game.”
Although no two hockey games will ever be alike in all facets, the number of penalties called per team and total penalties per game is often a hot topic. How strong of a power play one team has can factor heavily into just how aggressive of a defensive attack its opponent may lead with.
But looking at the factor of consistency, Thompson was very vocal that he does want to continue seeing every game called fair – not equal, but consistent.
“Like I said though, it’s a tough job to be an official,” he reflected. “Those guys are in a tough spot. But that is the biggest thing that every player wants. We just want consistency, no matter what it is. If you’re calling penalties consistently or letting guys play, I think that’s what guys want. They don’t want it to change from game to game. You just want consistency night in and night out.”
Having spent the better part of 13 seasons within the confines of the NHL, Thompson is no stranger to most officiating crews. Having taken hundreds of face-offs under the puck-dropping skills of Tim Peel, the 36-year-old said that he has built somewhat of a good relationship with the now former NHL referee.
“He’s been around a long time,” Thompson said of Peel. “He’s one of the veteran officials and I think he was a good official. I think Tim just made a mistake, and it’s unfortunate because it’s good to have those veteran officials that have been around.”
As a matter of fact, Peel has worked in 1,334 regular season games and another 90 playoff games. But without warning, his feet were swept out from underneath him for his audible admittance of game management.
“I think for myself and for a lot of guys, some of those guys who had been around, you can have conversations with them throughout the game, you know, talking to them, feeling them out,” Thompson continued. “You know, if it’s a play that they saw that you disagreed with, you could talk about it with those guys. Like I said, it’s unfortunate that it happened, and I’m sure Tim knows that he made a mistake. But like I said, it’s a tough situation.”