The NHL fired ref Tim Peel because a hot microphone heard him say: “It wasn't much, but I wanted to get a ***king penalty against Nashville early…”
The mic then cut out.
Moments before, at the 4:56 mark of the second period, Peel had called a minor against Nashville that looked marginal.
Only one penalty had been whistled prior in Tuesday’s game between Nashville and visiting Detroit. That was a minor against Detroit at 13:41 of the first period.
It’s widely assumed that Peel’s words indicate the infraction against Nashville was a “make-up call,” one designed to keep the penalties even between both teams.
Concluding that from Peel’s brief statement seems quite a leap, but outrage equals termination. The NHL wanted to make a statement, and did.
But it was a PR statement, and nothing else.
Peel, 53, was going to retire after the season. He had been an on-ice official since 1999. The NHL shot a lame duck for the sake of optics.
Peel’s dismissal changes nothing.
As ex-Penguin Ryan Whitney tweeted, “Never did I think this would be the outcome of the hot mic. Make-up calls have always been and will continue to be just part of the game. Tough way to go out for Tim Peel.”
Whitney is exactly correct. Make-up calls won’t disappear. Refs will just be more wary of hot mics.
What the NHL needs to do is monitor its officiating more closely and address issues quietly but forcefully on a league-wide scale.
That doesn’t just go for make-up calls. NHL officiating is incredibly inconsistent and haphazard, as is the league’s disciplinary process.
But truly correcting an issue that really matters would take introspection, work and time. It’s a lot easier to loudly fire Peel and proclaim, “See? We’re on top of it.”
Best sport, worst league. Same as it ever was.
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