March 24 (UPI) -- The NHL has fired referee Tim Peel for saying he wanted to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during their win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, made the announcement Wednesday, saying that Peel would "no longer be working NHL games now or in the future."
The 53-year-old Peel was expected to retire after this season. He served as an on-ice official since October 1999 and officiated 1,334 games entering the 2020-21 campaign.
"Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game," Campbell said in a statement. "Tim Peel's conduct is in direct contradiction to the adherence to that cornerstone principle that we demand of our officials and that our fans, players, coaches and all those associated with our game expect and deserve.
"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."
With about 15 minutes remaining in the second period of Tuesday night's game, Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was called for tripping Red Wings defenseman Jon Merrill in the offensive zone, even though replays appeared to show that Merrill embellished his fall to draw the penalty.
A few minutes later, the Nashville broadcast captured hot-mic audio from Peel saying "it wasn't much, but I wanted to get a [expletive] penalty against Nashville early."
"I think the situation is what it is," Predators head coach John Hynes said after the game. "I think from our perspective, it probably doesn't matter how I feel about it in general, but the referees are employees of the league, and rather than me comment, I think it's an issue that the league will have to take care of."
The Predators beat the Red Wings 2-0 Tuesday night. Both teams were called for three penalties, and Nashville was whistled for a fourth after putting the puck over the glass during the third period.