If you know an NHL referee’s name, chances are he’s (a) been around for three decades or (b) has a personality that’s memorable, like a Paul Stewart or Kerry Fraser or (c) is completely terrible at his job, like Tim Peel.
Mention Peel’s name, and it’ll be met with a groan or a bitter recollection of a call gone wrong. It’s ironic that his “memorable games/moments” entry on the National Hockey League Officials’ site is blank, considering how many memories he’s created for fans, such as:
• Blowing a goalie interference call on the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which prompted Henrik Lundqvist to question whether the referee (TIM PEEL!) wanted the Sens back in the game.
• Blowing a tripping call on Corey Perry that allowed the Ducks to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime, as Eric Staal said, "It was unfortunate in overtime to have a call like this go against us."
• Calling a joke of a hooking penalty on the Nashville Predators that allowed the Canucks to win in overtime in a 2011 playoff game. Said David Legwand: “Obviously they’re going to think it’s a good call, but Kesler’s obviously holding his stick. I don’t know if Timmy Peel had a date or something, but he wanted to get out of here pretty quick, it looked like. It’s a tough way to lose a game.”
• Waving off a Chicago Blackhawks’ goal for a phantom “goalie interference” ruling against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals last season, prompting Corey Crawford to say “I think that’s the first time I’ve seen in-the-crease called since about 2000.”
• Giving Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning a game misconduct for breaking his stick on the bench after getting squirted by a water bottle.
Look, I don't want to say Tim Peel is terrible, but that's mostly because he's actually atrocious.
In the grand tradition of failing upward, Peel has been selected as a referee for the 2014 Sochi Olympics men’s hockey tournament, one of 13 NHL officials who have made the cut. The others: Dave Jackson, Mike Leggo, Brad Meier, Kevin Pollock, Ian Walsh and Kelly Sutherland. The linesmen are Lonnie Cameron, Derek Amel, Greg Devorski, Brad Kovachik, Andy McElman and Mark Wheler.
So brace yourselves, Sochi, for the thrills and chills of bizarre overtime penalties and chronic misinterpretations of goalie interference rules. Just remember what NHL fans have known for years: You can’t appeal a Peel.