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After Tim Peel’s firing, NHL referees have discovered a shocking loophole: Covering up their mics

Weirdly, with the Sweet 16 looming, multiple first-round pro days going down, and golf teeing off a day earlier than usual for WGC-Dell Match Play, the biggest sports story of the week has been the firing of an NHL referee. On Wednesday, the NHL came down hard on Tim Peel after he was caught on a hot mic admitting to a makeup call against the Nashville Predators. Though Peel was scheduled to retire in just over a month, the league quickly announced he would no longer be working NHL games, making an example of the now ex-ref in a way no one has been made an example since Martha Stewart went to the slammer. Gary Bettman and co. dusted off their hands and patted themselves on the back. Job done.

Except, of course, they forgot once teensie, eensie loophole: The fact that referees can just cover up their mics anytime they choose, which, of course, happened on Thursday night, when a man of the stripes was seen covering up his mic while explaining a penalty call to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Wayne Simmonds. Who could have possibly seen this coming?

So it looks like the NHL has three options here: 1. Begin firing every referee they have in keeping with the Peel Precedent. 2. Begin the slow, painful process of culture change within NHL officiating circles (lolz.) 3. Do nothing and hope it goes away. If we had to guess, the NHL is going to walk through door number three and never look back. That strategy has served them well for over 100 years. Why stop now?