Referee Tim Peel banned for hot-mic call on Nashville Predators penalty
NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell made the announcement Wednesday morning, saying that Peel would "no longer be working NHL games now or in the future."
Peel, 53, was due to retire after this season. He has been an NHL on-ice official since October 1999 and had refereed 1,334 games entering this season.
"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 of our game."
With 15:04 left in the second period, Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was called for tripping Red Wings defenseman Jon Merrill in the offensive zone, even though replays showed that Merrill embellished his fall to help draw the call. Peel made the penalty call from around center ice.
With 12:42 remaining in the second period, the Nashville broadcast captured audio from Peel saying "it wasn't much, but I wanted to get a f---ing penalty against Nashville early."
The NHL told ESPN after the game that it had opened an investigation into Peel's comments.
Nashville won the game 2-0. Both teams were whistled for three penalties, and the Predators took a fourth for putting the puck over the glass in the third period.
Nashville coach John Hynes was asked about the hot mic after the game. "I think the situation is what it is," he said. "I think from our perspective, it probably doesn't matter how I feel about it in general, but the referees are employees of the league, and rather than me comment, I think it's an issue that the league will have to take care of."
Hynes said that "you always want to have things that are fair for your players and for your team" but that there are no excuses. "We have to find a way to kill the penalty and control what we can control."
Peel has been one of the NHL's most maligned officials, with fans using social media to critique his calls through the years. In 2015, Peel was removed from officiating a New Jersey Devils home game after being photographed at a bar drinking with a reporter. [Editor's note: The reporter was ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, the writer of this piece.]