Tim Peel breaks his silence about the open mic incident during interview, says an ex-Leaf helped lift his spirits

Dean Chaudhry
August 7, 2023  (6:55 PM)

Long-time former NHL referee, Tim Peel, had an illustrious career that ended in controversy after he was picked up on the hot mic where it seemed like he was slapping the Nashville Predators with a "make-up" call against the Detroit Red Wings back in 2021.

As they were heading towards a commercial break, an accidentally active microphone caught Peel saying "it wasn't much but I wanted to get a f****** penalty against Nashville early..."
The NHL stepped in quickly and effectively suspended the referee saying he "no longer will be working NHL games now or in the future" even though he was set to retire at the end of the season - which was only a month away.
Peel's take on what happened:
"Sounded like I really wanted to get a penalty against Nashville, I think we only had 1 penalty in the game so far and I was working with a veteran, Kelly Sutherland and the play happened 10 feet in front of him and I should've just let it go because he had a good look at it and I thought Arvidsson kicked the feet out of from the Detroit player and so when I came over to the box.... being embarrassed because Kelly has worked 10 Stanley Cup Finals and here I am from the neutral zone calling a tripping penalty - not like it was a high stick or a high flagrant foul - and I go 'yeah it wasn't much but I wanted to get a penalty against Nashville'. I think the whole game we called 2 penalties against Nashville and maybe 1 against Detroit."

Peel didn't think much of the incident because he didn't know it was picked up on the microphone or on air. However, things quickly changed from bad to worse post-game:
"So game ends, Nashville wins, nobody saying a word, well the Detroit feed picked it up but didn't air it but the Nashville feed picked it up and aired it... within 30 seconds later it's on social media and running rampant...

My phone's ringing... it's my boss and he says we got a big problem and I go 'what's that?' and he goes 'you're caught on the mic saying you wanna get a penalty on Nashville'...

I get back to the hotel and write a letter to Mr. Bettman, Bill Daly, and Steven and say this is not what I meant and I show up at the airport the next morning because I'm told to go home that night and 7:30 in the morning and I'm at the airport and my phone rings and it's Steven and he goes 'you worked your last game in the national hockey league.'"

Peel didn't have time to call his wife or family, so by the time he had landed, it was all over social media and his wife had found out from other people. It was a tough couple of hours but he said a phone call from former Toronto Maple Leafs forward, David Clarkson, helped a lot on his way from the airport:
"Now I'm driving home and I get this Columbus number and I don't know who this is and it's David Clarkson and David hated officials, I thought he hated me... I thought he was gonna say 'looks f**** good on you, I never liked you blah blah blah'... and he had phoned Marty (Brodeur) to ask for my number and he's like 'I just wanna let you know that I'm retired now and in Denver playing with a lot of ex-pros and we got off the ice today and heard about what happened and I just wanna say that when I saw your name on the board in our room before a game, I knew we had one of the best refs in the league but also one of the fairest refs in the league.'"

He finished off the segment by talking about how he has moved on from what has happened for the most part but it still stings and bothers him to this day that that's how his career ended. He has been going to counselling himself because he didn't want it to linger around his personal life:
"I have these referee camps in St. Louis and I said to them one day... 'Life's pretty good right now, you're in high school, mum and dad probably bought you a car, you got a girlfriend, but guess what? You're going to get kicked in the balls a lot throughout your life and it's about how you come out on the other side and how you prevail and about your perseverance and your resiliency', and as much as I sound like that's where I'm headed and so on, it still bugs me and that's why I need to go and speak to somebody and trying to get past that and quit worrying about what other people think.

It sucks because it still bothers me. That wasn't the way it was supposed to end, but guess what? You can't write your own story and you have to find a way to get past it and move on."