Barry Trotz didn’t waiver in his support of NHL referees on Wednesday hours after the league had announced that veteran official Tim Peel would not be working NHL games going forward following comments that were picked up by a hot mic.
Peel was caught saying that he wanted to “get a (expletive) penalty against Nashville early” during Tuesday night’s game between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings. Peel made the comment after Viktor Arvidsson was called for tripping Jon Merrill on a play that replay later revealed was a bit embellished by Merrill.
The call was viewed as a makeup call by Peel during the game.
“Sometimes they’re human,” Trotz said about NHL referees. “Sometimes they’ll make mistakes and they’ll want to right the mistakes sometimes. The referees are the best.”
Peel had planned to retire following this season after a career that began back in 1999. The 53-year-old has worked 1,361 games during the course of his career, according to Scouting the Refs.
The league acted swiftly to the incident, telling ESPN that they had opened an investigation on Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell made his decision about Peel’s fate.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game,” Campbell said in a statement. “Tim Peel’s conduct is in direct contradiction to the adherence to that cornerstone principle that we demand of our officials and that our fans, players, coaches and all those associated with our game expect and deserve. There is no justification for his comments, no matter the context or his intention, and the National Hockey League will take any and all steps necessary to protect the integrity our game.”
Trotz has talked about on multiple occasions the newfound respect that he picked up for the officials when got a taste of what they do during the playoff bubble. Trotz refereed the Islanders scrimmages during the bubble last summer.
And the Islanders coach has since stayed away from lobbying much criticism at the officials this season.
“Timmy Peel has been in the league a long time. I respect Timmy and all the referees,” Trotz said. “For me, they call good games. I don’t have too many problems. I don’t yell at them too much. I don’t have any problems because I got to experience it first hand. It’s a very difficult job.
“What was said and what context I’m not really familiar with what happened, other than I did hear it through a third party.”