LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's a question many sports fans find themselves asking from time to time...are the referees biased against certain players and teams?
The National Hockey League is facing these kinds of questions after a hot mic picked up a referee saying he wanted to penalize a specific team during a game Tuesday night.
This hot mic moment happened during last night's Nashville Predators-Detroit Red Wings game.
Former Vegas Golden Knights player Jon Merrill drew a questionable cross-checking call, and then one of the referees was heard during the broadcast admitting it was a questionable call and that he specifically wanted to penalize the Predators.
"There wasn't much but I wanted to get a ****ing penalty against Nashville early," referee Tim Peel could be heard saying.
That comment has gained a lot of steam on social media, especially after that referee was immediately fired.
The NHL responded by banning Peel from refereeing any games ever again and releasing a statement that reads in part, "Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game. There is no justification for his comments, no matter the context or his intention."
"It’s a little bit overblown, to a certain degree, because if he doesn’t open his mouth and doesn’t say anything and isn’t picked up by hot mic, we’re not even talking about this. I think this is almost standard procedure that you see night-in and night-out in the NHL," said TC Martin, a Las Vegas sports radio host. Martin says he doesn't believe Peel's comment was part of a larger conspiracy to influence the outcome of games.
"I don’t think it’s anything like that, where it’s a betting scandal or anything of that nature. This is just typical what referees do. Again, you will see referees they will try to set the tone for certain games and some referees will try to be more important than the games themselves," said Martin.
Martin does admit that this referee's reputation and the league's decision to fire him immediately makes this incident look worse than it probably was.
"This guy was actually suspended from a game, pulled out of a game from refereeing in New Jersey years ago because he was seen drinking at a bar with a reporter. So, I think a lot of it is because of who he is and they [NHL] had enough. He’s going to retire at the end of the year anyway, so they figured, 'OK, let’s make a clean break here. Let’s make a statement and say we’re not going to tolerate this, even though in the big picture, I don’t think it’s much. But, the NHL wanted to make a statement," said Martin.