It was the photo that did Tim Peel in.
Alarms were raised at the highest levels of the NHL when Greg Wyshynski, the editor of the Puck Daddy blog, tweeted a shot of him and the referee holding shot glasses late Thursday night with the message: “Oh nothing. Just me and NHL referee Tim Peel doing a tequila shot.”
Peel had been scheduled to work a game between Pittsburgh and New Jersey at Prudential Center the following evening, but was quickly taken off the assignment. It amounted to a one-game suspension for the veteran official, according to a source, because Peel’s conduct was deemed to be inappropriate.
A NHL spokesman said Tuesday morning that league policy prevented him from commenting on discipline given out to officials.
Wyshynski has been highly critical of Peel’s work on his popular Yahoo! Sports blog in recent years and the two met at a New York City bar to air their differences. In addition to the photo, Wyshynski wrote a post detailing the meeting and laid out some of the history that led up to it.
“After about 90 minutes, I walked out of the bar into a snow shower,” Wyshynski wrote. “I hoped Tim got whatever he was looking for out of it, because I know I did: a little better understanding about the man and his mistakes, a new perspective on our criticism of them. And, well, this photo.”
It is believed the NHL was concerned about the optics of the men toasting one another, especially if Peel was on the wrong side of a bad call in the Devils-Penguins game the following night.
His punishment didn’t last long. Peel was back to work Saturday at Madison Square Garden and is scheduled to referee Tuesday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.