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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

BORN: NHL sends wrong message by barring Peel from playoffs

BornIn every sport, the best time of the season is always the playoffs. In baseball, it’s October. In college basketball, it’s the March Madness tournament. And for hockey fans, it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Much like the NBA Playoffs, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are regarded as a second season by players and fans alike. The winning team needs 16 wins in as many as 28 games, which is arguably the most grueling postseason in professional sports. It’s also a time when officials tend to swallow their whistles. Playoff hockey is tightly contested and there are fewer penalties called as some officials allow players to get away with more. What may be a penalty in the regular season may not always be one in the playoffs.

Unless you’re a hardcore fan of any sport, you usually do not know the name of officials, those special cases being Jim Burr and Ed Hochuli. In the NHL, many fans know the name Tim Peel due to varying levels of perceived bad officiating. Surprisingly, the official who has 20 years of experience in the NHL, officiating both the Stanley Cup Playoffs multiple times and the 2014 Sochi Olympics as well as training younger officials, has been left off the list of playoff referees.

Peel has seen his fair share of criticism, most loudly from Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Wyshynski has called Peel out on multiple blog posts and back in January, the two decided to meet in a New York bar just to talk. Wyshynski wrote a blog post on everything that was on the record, and that blog post gave the readers a much deeper look into the NHL’s world of officiating than the league allows. Peel talked about how the NHL asks for certain penalties to be called more and how referees tend to not call penalties late in tied games.

The two also discussed why Peel had never worked a Stanley Cup Final in his career, to which he responded that there are better officials than himself. While they were at the bar, the two were drinking shots of tequila and Wyshynski posted a photo of the two toasting at the permission and encouragement of Peel.

Peel was mysteriously absent from his next game, which was to take place the next night in New Jersey. However, he was present the following night for his next assignment, a New York Rangers game. Peel was reportedly suspended, causing a big stir. Multiple sites reported on the suspension, including Wyshynski, who wrote another blog post about the incident.

All reports pointed at the suspension as a slap on the wrist for talking to Wyshynski about refereeing in the NHL, specifically about blown and wrong calls, and possibly drinking alcohol on an off night before working a game.

After seeing what happened to Peel after their meeting at the bar, Wyshynski talked to league officials about the suspension at the Stadium Series in Santa Clara in February and said he felt like there was more punishment coming for Peel. When the roster came out, Wyshynski asked the NHL if it was because of Peel’s trip to the bar that kept him off the roster, to which they didn’t comment. If it were true, it seems completely counterproductive to not have one of the leagues better officials in the most important time of the NHL.

The NHL does not allow officials to talk to media at all, which gives the league the power to suspend Peel should they have saw fit, which they did. However, it adds another layer of questions that Peel is left off the playoff referee roster.

The NHL wants to have its best officials on the ice for the playoffs but punishing a better official, who the league trusts to train young officials and clearly has a proven track record, completely goes against that wish. Peel just managed to reveal what many fans already know and were not surprised about, that officials tend to swallow whistles in close games and that the NHL critiques its officials and points out when certain types of penalties should be called.

Peel’s intentions weren’t even to reveal this information, nor was it Wyshynski’s to write a blog post concerning NHL officiating. It was two people trying to get a better understanding of each other and a human interest story blossomed because of it.

Peel has made bad calls in the past, but has been called to work the Stanley Cup Playoffs time and time again. It seems extremely fishy he’s not on the list for this year’s postseason. It’s a shame the league seems to be punishing him for a single night of trying to understand one of his largest critiques who as become a apologist of sorts since the meeting. It was a non-story that turned into a major one due to the NHL’s inability to let it go.

Once again, officials are becoming the story instead of the teams in the postseason.

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