Ex-NHL ref disgusted with Sheldon Keefe over remarks about Matthews

Ryan Smitheram
April 19, 2024  (10:02)

Former NHL referee Tim Peel
Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove - USA Today Sports

Former NHL official Tim Peel was disgusted with Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe over his comments about Auston Matthews and the chase for 70 goals.

Over the weekend, Sheldon Keefe made some interesting comments following the Leafs' overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night about Matthews' chase for 70 goals being a distraction.
On a recent episode of the "Snipes and Stripes" podcast, former NHL offcial Tim Peel shared his thoughts on Keefe calling Matthews a distraction.
"This Sheldon Keefe kind of bugs me. I don't know what it is about the guy, but he rubs me the wrong way. He made a comment that Auston Matthews, his pursuit of 70 goals, his exact words, 'obviously that's a major distraction. it doesn't help us with what were trying to accomplish on the ice, but its exciting, I get it. especially when he gets to 69,' Keefe said. If I'm Auston Matthews, I'm going, I'm a distraction? I might win the Hart trophy as the most valuable player. I'm going to win the Rocket Richard trophy this year, easily and I'm a distraction? that's what bugs me about Keefe, he says some stupid things and sometimes I think he feels its all about him and not about his players, but to call him a distraction I think its very disrespectful. I think its disgusting he would call his player a distraction because he's trying to get to 70 goals."

Peel may not agree with Keefe's comments, but many fans did, noting that if the Leafs just continued to play how they normally did, Matthews would have had a better chance at scoring 70 instead of force-feeding him pucks in difficult situations when defenders knew exactly where the puck was going. Instead, whoever was on the ice with Matthews attempted to set him up for a shot on goal any chance they saw, often making or trying to make plays they would not normally make resulting in unconventional turnovers and odd-man rushes against them.

Was it hypocritical of Keefe to call Matthews' 70-goal chase a distraction?

Keefe proclaiming that Matthews being in pursuit of 70 was a distraction to the team is warranted because it affected how the Leafs played their remaining games. While many players were trying to play the game, any time they were on the ice with Matthews, the goal was to get him the puck at all costs. At the same time, Keefe became somewhat of a distraction himself in making those comments publicly. Understanding that he is trying to coach and prepare the team for the playoffs, those comments should have been reserved for the room, similarly to Peel's comments that were picked up by a hot mic during a game in 2021 about him looking to call a penalty. Had he saved those comments for the locker room, he may not have been dismissed by the league. Those comments by Peel ultimately led to him being fired as the league was entering the sports betting world and wanted to protect themselves against potential 'game fixing' claims.
With the season now over, and Matthews not reaching 70 goals, the Leafs and Keefe have turned their attention to Game 1 of their first round series against the Boston Bruins which will take place Saturday night in Boston.
19 AVRIL   |   362 ANSWERS
Ex-NHL ref disgusted with Sheldon Keefe over remarks about Matthews

Is Tim Peel right in calling out Sheldon Keefe over the infamous Matthews comments?

Yes21459.1 %
No14840.9 %
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