Memo to NHL referees: Don’t have your picture taken holding a drink at a bar with a member of the media.
Doing so could result in a suspension, as Tim Peel realized last week when the 15-year official reportedly was barred for one game, a Jan. 30 contest between Pittsburgh and the hometown New Jersey Devils, after Yahoo Sports blogger Greg Wyshynski tweeted a photo of he and Peel holding a shot of tequila at a New York City bar the previous night.
The NHL wouldn't say anything about the incident on Tuesday, with a spokesman saying league policy prevented him from commenting on discipline handed to game officials.
It’s believed Peel asked to meet with Wyshynski, who has been critical of the referee, through his blog, on more than one occasion.
During their meeting, Peel is said to have admitted to some blown calls on the ice and why he made them.
The first incident was a diving penalty on Anaheim Ducks defenceman Sami Vatanen earlier this season. According to Wyshynski, Peel skated to the Ducks bench the next time he officiated one of their games and apologized for making a mistake. Apparently, he felt compelled to make the call because the NHL wanted a crackdown on diving.
The second incident was a four-minute roughing/holding penalty assessed to Washington forward Alex Ovechkin. Peel is said to have told Wyshynski he wouldn’t have made such a call. But in a 4-0 contest? The league, in Peel’s mind, wanted the call made for the sake of “game management” to ensure a one-sided affair between two rivals didn’t get out of control.
Peel said he explained to Capitals head coach Barry Trotz why he was making the call and that Trotz understood.
@wyshynski Tim Peel is now my favorite ref after that story, just because he had the guts to meet you and confirm why refs make those calls.— @asprout42
The NHL needs more stories like @wyshynski did with Tim Peel. Show the other side of the coin of a referee.— @SpikeC20
So why was the NHL upset with Peel to the point he was allegedly removed from an assigned game? Well …
- The league doesn’t permit officials to speak with the media.
- Perhaps it didn’t favour Peel’s candid explanation of the Vatanen and Ovechkin incidents.
- The league might not have taken kindly to a picture being tweeted for many to see of a game official drinking the night before an assignment.
But wasn’t Peel simply showing his human side, admitting a couple of mistakes and sharing with those who point a finger at game officials why they do what they do?
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