NHL Official Dropped over Bias against Team

A misfortunate NHL referee was caught expressing bias against one team on a live microphone, leading to his contract termination last week

A Live Microphone Gets NHL official Fired

On Wednesday last week, NHL referee Tim Peel was dropped as an official representative to the league following a comment from a day before when he unwittingly said on a live microphone that he “wanted to get” a penalty against Nashville Predators.

FoxSports Nashville managed to mitigate the situation by immediately switching to a commercial break leaving audiences wondering if they heard what they thought they did.  

The answer came the next day with the NHL making an official statement that Peel would no longer be part of any games or activities that are organized and run by the league. 

Addressing the issue, NHL senior executive VP of hockey operations Colin Campell said that nothing was more important than upholding the integrity of the game. In the case of Peel’s conduct, that was not the case, Campell ventured to explain. 

In fact, the referee had demonstrated conduct that was in direct contradiction to what Campell called the cornerstone principle that the NHL expects from its officials and referees, and added:

“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 of our game.”

NHL VP of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell

The fact that Peel was caught on a live microphone is another opportunity for official league bodies to look into how games are refereed. It would be impossible to imagine that avid sports fans such as referees do not sympathize with one team more than the other.

Yet, to carry out a just game, a referee must leave any bias or favoritism in the locker room and rule on a clear head. 

Change in Sports Offers New Solutions, New Challenges

Sports are evolving, and the NHL is no exception. The popularity of sports gambling has brought in the question of integrity on multiple occasions. The league itself, somewhat pressed for money, has signed numerous partnerships with gambling stakeholders, including BetMGM, Bally’s, and FanDuel.

BetMGM is already the authorized betting partner for the Las Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals, and Detroit Red Wings. While closer ties between gambling companies and official league bodies may seem like a big risk, the advance of technology has helped set some of it off.

The NHL, on the other hand, has acquired 43,000 shares in PointsBet, another popular sports betting operator. 

Athletes, officials, and anyone who works in and out of sports are monitored for gambling activity. Automated algorithms allow for the collection of big data in real-time, and eventually, the occasional live microphone may reveal an unjust bias towards one participating side.

Issues related to game integrity will happen many times in the future. What matters is when they do for someone like Colin Campell to step in and say that there is no excuse for those actions and for the guilty parties to live with the consequences. 

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