NHL

Referee banned from working NHL games after being caught on live mic wanting to call penalty on Predators

A referee wearing a microphone for the Detroit-Nashville game Tuesday night was heard over the TV broadcast saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Predators. On Wednesday the league announced he would be taken out of the rotation for officiating NHL games.

'Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,' says hockey operations VP Colin Campbell,

Referee Tim Peel, seen here in this file photo from 2011, will no longer work NHL games after he was heard on a live mic saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Referee Tim Peel has been banned from officiating future NHL games after he was caught saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during a game on Tuesday.

Peel was wearing a microphone for the Detroit-Nashville game Tuesday night and was heard making the comment over the TV broadcast.

"It wasn't much, but I wanted to get a [expletive] penalty against Nashville early in the," Peel was heard saying before his microphone was cut off after Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was called for a tripping penalty at 4:56 of the second period.

Peel worked the game with referee Kelly Sutherland. The Predators were called for four penalties and the Red Wings three in Nashville's 2-0 win.

WARNING: Clip contains profane language

"Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game," Colin Campbell, the league's senior executive vice-president of hockey operations, said in a statement issued by the NHL Wednesday. 

"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," he said in the statement. "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."

The NHL's statement was unclear on whether Peel had been fired, but TSN reported Wednesday he planned to retire following this season.

WATCH | The National discusses ban on Peel:

NHL bans referee caught saying he wanted to call a penalty against Nashville

7 months ago
1:53
The NHL has banned referee Tim Peel from officiating future games after he was caught on an open mic saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators. 1:53

NHL players weigh in

Nashville's Matt Duchene on a local radio appearance Wednesday wondered aloud what would have happened if Detroit scored on the power play, won the game and the Predators missed the playoffs by a point.

"The crazy part is he was talking to [teammate Filip] Forsberg in that clip, and he told our bench that," Duchene said. "Really bizarre. 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've seen even-up calls or stuff like that. If one team is earning power plays, you can't punish them because the other team is not."

Even-up — or make-up — calls are when referees will penalize one team to compensate for what they perceive to be an incorrect penalty imposed on the opposing team. 

Duchene and other players around the league cast doubt on "make-up calls" being a regular part of hockey, though he acknowledged "there's definitely nights where you're skeptical of it."

"Some of the good refs definitely have a feel for the game and they know the ebbs and flows, and they know to try to keep the game as even as possible unless the play dictates otherwise," New York Rangers forward Ryan Strome said. "But as players, all you can ask for is that they try to call it as fair as possible."

'The league had to do what they had to do'

Washington centre Nicklas Backstrom, a 14-year veteran, said the incident was a first for him.

"I've never heard anything like that," Backstrom said. "I think it's maybe unfortunate that it happened and came out that way. But at the same time, the league had to do what they had to do."

Predators coach John Hynes said it probably doesn't matter how he feels about what the official said.

"But the referees are employees of the league and rather than me comment on it, it's an issue that I think the league will have to take care of," Hynes said.

Most players and coaches expressed respect for on-ice officials and lamented how difficult their jobs are in keeping track of the fast-paced game. Buffalo interim coach Don Granato said he has "full faith" in the people who work for the NHL.

"[Peel] made a mistake, but unfortunately you don't want make-up calls to be part of the game," Edmonton's Adam Larsson said. "I don't think it's right. I think if it's an obvious one I don't think it should be made up for."

Peel, 54, from Hampton, N.B., has been an NHL referee since 1999.

with files from CBC Sports

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