NHL hypocritical in response to hot mic

Marc Elliott

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, and former NHL official Tim Peel, right.

CLOQUET – As you have likely heard by now, NHL official Tim Peel’s recent in-game comment has generated much controversy and has resulted in his dismissal from any further calling of NHL games.
In and of itself, that’s not a real big issue because Peel would call it a day after this season ended. And his pension and benefits will remain intact.

But still, the way the league has handled this matter has generated vigorous debate from coast to coast amongst diehard fans of the game. 

Let’s go back to the origins of this matter.

In a recent tilt between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators, Peel said into a “hot mic” which he forgot about momentarily, “There wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a f%$#@*g penalty against Nashville early in the —” after whistling Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson for tripping.

OK, for non-fans of the greatest game in the world, this is known as a “makeup call.” It occurs when a call is made against a team earlier in the game that may or may not have been legitimate. Then, in an attempt to “even” matters out and give the other team a shot at a man advantage, the official might look for an opportunity to penalize the other club as a means to do so. 

That is a form of the referees performing some game management techniques. Most intense, long-term observers of the game know and understand this. Some accept it; others do not care for the practice, preferring that the games just be called “straight-up” and then allow the players to correct their on-ice game behaviors accordingly.

Because that’s usually exactly the way these things play out. It’s similar to a lab rat experiment in a way. There is an unwanted behavior (infraction), a punishment (penalty called), and then a behavioral modification.

Most players at this level are very smart and adjust the way they play to the way the games are called if it’s consistent.  

There would likely be fan frustration during a time frame whereby all infractions were called during the correction phase. But the league is nowhere near mandating that officials call the games straight up. So, at this point, it’s a little bit of a mess.

Or is it? The majority of the league’s long-term fans have long accepted the nuances of the way the games have been called. Not all fans like it, but they realize how and why the games are officiated in this manner. 

So why did Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league step in here?

In my opinion, here are my observations; when Bettman took his position in 1993, the NHL was 4th out of the four major sports here (still is in most measurable stats). Many non-fans viewed the league as kind of a sideshow amalgam of hockey and TV wrestling, amongst other things. The revenues were poor, and many individual clubs often struggled to keep afloat. 

It took years to remedy, but Bettman eventually stabilized the league’s finances via a combination of financial moves in the CBA and improved the game’s watchability with some needed rules changes.
The bench-clearing brawls that dominated the ‘70s are gone, and fighting, in general, is way down, and that has drawn in new fans as a result.  

In many personal observations of Bettman’s public media comments, he often speaks to the league maintaining a very high degree of “integrity.” He has operated in that exact manner in his tenure. I was not a Bettman fan for years, but when I better understood what he was about and where he desired to take the league, I got on-board with him.

The NHL has the best Commissioner of the four majors. And the league and the game have never been better as a result. 

In his dialogue during his tenure, I have found that he has a hyper-sensitivity to public perception regarding the league’s integrity. It is pretty essential to him, as it should be.

But in this case, with the bulk of the league’s fans understanding the way things work, why terminate Peel at this time? 

I seriously believe that a suspension of some sort and a rebuke would have been more than acceptable. Peel could retire after his season, and few would have thought twice about handling it in that manner.

Gary, you have overreacted here. I understand why, but I strongly disa-gree. And now you have cost Peel a chance to call that one last game of his career, get a few pats on the back and the thanks he deserved for a mostly positive body of work. 

One of my favorite parts of this game is when a long-time referee called his final game, and both teams would line up for a formal handshake and sendoff at the game’s end. Peel deserved that much, and now that is gone.

To me, that’s not acceptable, and it smacks of the hypocrisy of the situation. You know of the makeup call’s existence, do zero about it and then terminate a guy when he makes a public gaffe about it. You goofed up here sir...

THE MINNESOTA WILD will resume play tonight out in San Jose after a much-needed weekend off.
The club is currently in a Stanley Cup playoff position, albeit without home ice. As I have written before this, the team fares well against teams lesser than them in the standings and seems to go 50-50 with teams in the league’s upper level.

In examining the remaining 24 games, here’s the skinny; there will be 13 tilts in St. Paul with 11 away games. 

Of the 24, in my view, I see 18 games with a better than even chance at a win.

To be more correct, if I apply the team’s current points percentage, they have a strong chance at winning 16 of the 24. The team would finish with 75 points.

With the VGK and COL still playing strongly, this would likely only solidify their 3rd place positioning with no home ice. 

With the team at a .812 points percent in St. Paul, home ice would be an advantage. But with the team’s anemic power play issues, it’s unlikely to make any playoff dent with a special team performance of less than 10%.

Can they correct that before the playoffs start? That’s the million-dollar question.

It is hard to imagine that they can’t get above 10% on the PP with some of this team’s offensive talent. And if they don’t figure it out, it’s hard to think they’ll get beyond the first round. PEACE

THE WILD DATA; the SAGARIN, 9th on a record of 21-11, 4-6 vs. top ten & sixteen with a 19th ranked difficulty of schedule. THE ATHLETIC, projected at a 3rd place division finish, 35-21 for 73 points, 100% chance at a playoff spot, 4% chance at a Cup win. In 3rd place in the West on a 21-10-1 record for 43 points, 94/GF, 78/GA. +16 differential. 13-3 @ H, 8-7-1 @ A. 8-2 in L10, streak of 3W. 18th/GF, 4th/GA. 31st/PP @ 9.7%. 4th/PK @ 85.7%. 20th/PIM @ 301 minutes. OVER & OUT!!