This has nothing to do with the Bruins, but it’s just what we all love: a good ol’ refereeing controversy!
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
"It wasn't much but I wanted to get a fuckin' penalty against Nashville early in the..."#Preds #LGRW pic.twitter.com/6fZImkdqLr
That’s the voice of referee Tim Peel, the one who made the call, admitting that there “wasn’t much” to call but that he just wanted to call something against Nashville.
Prior to that call, there had been only one other penalty, an interference call against Adam Erne of the Red Wings.
We all know make-up calls are a thing, but what was stunning about this was to just hear it said so plainly by the ref. Clearly he didn’t know the Nashville broadcast feed would pick up that audio, but it’s a wild thing to say after making a penalty call.
The league apparently agrees: it announced this morning that Peel will no longer work any NHL games, effective immediately.
However, the punishment isn’t as harsh as the league would like you to think: per Elliotte Friedman, Peel was already planning to retire a month from now.
What’s interesting about all of this is that we all know that this is in no way an isolated incident. Everyone knows refs will, from time to time, go around looking for make-up/intentional calls.
It can happen for any number of reasons: maybe they realize at an intermission that they missed a previous call, or maybe a player has repeatedly ignored their requests to not do XYZ.
In absolutely no way is Tim Peel the only referee who has ever made a “stick it to them” penalty call, but he ends up being the public fall guy here.
(Though to be fair, it’s also hard to call him a “fall guy” when he’s basically just dealing with the consequences of his own actions.)
To be clear, Peel wasn’t exactly the most beloved official in the league prior to this incident, and he has to take responsibility for making the call and the comments.
However, the guy has officiated nearly 1,500 NHL games over the course of his career.
It’s hard to believe that he went rogue all this time making these intentional calls on his own, and it’s more likely that it’s a league-wide problem.
How do you fix it? Who knows? Referees are human. They’ll make mistakes, make-up calls, “screw you” calls, etc. What can you really do?
The league is likely going to have to come out with some other kind of statement/plan that they’ll be working with all officials to get things like this out of the game, but it’ll likely be little more than lip service.
Of note, Kelly Sutherland was the other referee in this game. We all remember Kelly Sutherland.
The Predators, unimpeded by the call, went on to win, 2-0.