The NHL fired referee Tim Peel on Wednesday after a hot mic captured him boasting about whistling a penalty because he “wanted to.”
The league’s action came less than 24 hours after Peel officiated the Nashville Predators’ 2-0 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena.
Shortly after Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson was whistled for a tripping penalty on Detroit defenseman Jon Merrill, a rink-side TV microphone picked up an official saying: “It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a f—ing penalty against Nashville early.”
The NHL determined that voice was Peel’s and said that the ref would “no longer be working NHL games now or in the future.”
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President Colin Campbell said in a statement on 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. 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.”
Nashville penalties led to three power plays for Detroit, but the Red Wings failed to convert on any of those advantages. The Predators were handed two power plays and scored on one of them.
After the game, Nashville coach John Hynes was asked about the hot-mic comment and he deferred to the NHL: “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.”
A rep for the National Hockey League Officials’ Association could not be immediately reached for comment. The union’s website still had Peel listed on its roster of active refs on Wednesday afternoon.
Peel, 53, broke into the league in fall of 1999 and had officiated 1,343 regular season games and 90 playoff contests as of Feb. 1, according to the union. He also worked the 2012 NHL All-Star Game and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.