What happened here is that Preds forward Viktor Arvidsson was whistled for a tripping penalty in the game’s second period. Peel was then heard on the broadcast saying, quote, “it wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a fucking penalty against Nashville early in the – ” That’s when the audio cut out.
He was pretty much saying that he was looking for a make-up call. Every ref thinks this. Every fan knows it happens in every sport, though it seems to be especially pervasive in the NHL. Of course, when it’s audible and uttered on a hot mic, it’s an issue of compromising the fairness of the game and opening the door to bias or, even worse, match-fixing.
That’s not to say Peel was thinking any of those latter thoughts, and the fan and media reaction online, from a brief sampling, seems to think this was a somewhat harsh decision. Peel is 53 years old and expected to retire on April 24th, so this is a rough way to go out.
But what else can the NHL really do here? If you go easy on the guy, it gives the impression that you don’t take the integrity of the game seriously. And if you fire Peel, it seems like you’re going too far. Beyond that, you have tens of thousands of fans who think the league has been officiated horribly for years now, with issues of fairness and balance sort of swept under the rug. There’s a thought that the league is complicit in allowing make-up calls to stink up the NHL, and only fired Peel because they had to.
Several years ago during a U.S. vs. Canada women's game contested for some title no one can remember, the U.S. had an inordinate amount of consecutive power plays in the game, it may have even exceeded 10 in a row. Oh, the Canucks threw up a hue and cry about this -- even though they somehow won the game -- with the import being that there should have been a makeup call at some point. But watching the game, just about every penalty was fully deserved and was born out of the increasing frustration of the Canadian team. In fact, the game was reffed how you'd like to see every game reffed, by the letter of the law and not by any unwritten law that says you make shit up to keep it "balanced". The next day on Toronto sports radio, most of the callers weren't talking about the fact that their country won the game, they were kvetching about the fact that the ref didn't let things go after their girls had incurred a certain number of penalties. So who can blame Peel? The fans expect it as much as anyone else.