Red Wings, Predators back officiating after referee's on-ice comment

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

As far as the Red Wings and Nashville Predators are concerned, the NHL got it right.

The league's decision to end the officiating career of Tim Peel was the correct call, as far as players and coaches are concerned, after Peel's comments during Tuesday's 2-0 victory in Nashville.

Tim Peel

Peel was caught on a microphone during Tuesday's Red Wings-Predators game saying he "wanted" to call a penalty on the Predators. He was removed by the NHL on Wednesday from officiating future games. 

"It was an unfortunate situation, it wasn't right, and the NHL handled it pretty well in my opinion," Predators forward Colton Sissons said.

Predators coach John Hynes felt after Tuesday's game the NHL would take care of the matter appropriately, and felt the NHL did so.

"It's a situation that the league takes care of and obviously you don't want to have that have anything like that happen to a person and it's an unfortunate situation, but the league handled it the way they felt was correct, and from our perspective, we've moved past it," Hynes said.

Reached by The Detroit News on Thursday morning, Peel said “this is a private and personal matter” and declined an interview request.

Peel was set to retire on April 24, according to Canadian sports network TSN.

Peel called Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson for tripping at 4:56 of the second period, a call that caught the attention of broadcasters and people on social media.

Caught on a microphone, Peel said, “it wasn’t much but I wanted to get a (expletive) penalty against Nashville early in the …” as the audio cut out.

Peel joined the NHL Officials’ Association in 1995, officiating his first game four years after.

Peel had officiated 1,343 games prior to the start of this season, including 90 playoff games.

Peel officiated during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"It's an unfortunate incident," Wings forward Sam Gagner said. "Tim has a lot of respect around the game, and he's been in the league a long time. It's never great to see a guy go off that way, and as a player you never want that to happen.

"You kind of understand that game management is a thing that goes on and I can see both sides of it. You have to let the teams play, but part of that too is penalties tend to even out as the game goes on. Sometimes it probably shouldn't, but things happen real fast for referees and it's not a position I envy. It's a real hard thing to do, to make calls at high speed.

"It's just unfortunate to see Tim go out that way with the career he's had."

Coach Jeff Blashill also had praise for Peel's career, and felt the integrity of NHL officials, as a whole, can't be tarnished.

"I've got a lot of respect for Tim Peel as a person and as a man," Blashill said. "He's been somebody I've respected since Day One in this league, so that part is unfortunate because he's a real good referee and a real good man.

"I heard what you guys heard, which was a partial conversation caught on a hot mic. Without knowing the context of the rest of the conversation, which we don't know, none of us, I certainly wouldn't judge personally.

"In my mind, we've got a good group of officials that ref this game with integrity. It means tons to them. I've had heated conversations with different refs at different times and one thing I know for certain is they care about doing a great job. They care about their job, it's their livelihood, and there's zero doubt in my mind it's done with great integrity."

There is a human element to officiating, said Blashill, and he believes that is a positive thing.

"I've been doing this (coaching) a long time, and is there a human element to refereeing? Of course there is," Blashill said. "If one team is up a lot, do they get some calls? I don’t know. Some games they might, but it might just be the way the game goes. I focus on what we can control and that’s how we play and whether or not we put ourselves in position to take penalties.”

Gagner played with Edmonton star Connor McDavid last year and saw how hard it is for referees to control a game.

“There’s times where they probably feel, ‘I have to make up for that error,’” Gagner said. “I played with Connor McDavid last year and felt there could have been a penalty (by an opposing player) on him every shift.

"But do you want penalties called on every shift? I don't know. It's a hard thing, a hard position they're in. It's tough to make judgement calls at high speeds."

Colin Campbell, NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said Wednesday Peel, 54, no longer will be working NHL games now or in the future. 

“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” said Campbell in a statement. “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 our game.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan