ESPN hasn’t aired hockey before? They’re a sports network.
Oh, they even had the license before. The problem is that ESPN didn’t have the license, so they are seen as having neglected hockey content in favor of sports that they also broadcast, thus double-dipping because their sports-reporting is also an advert for their sports broadcasts.
However, some of that perception is kind of unfair. They have some very good hockey writers at ESPN. Unfortunately a large chunk of it is also pay-walled.
Not since before the lockout in the 2000s IIRC. They also rarely cover hockey on any of their news programs. Sportscenter will maybe show a hockey highlight if it’s truly ridiculous. The guys on PTI might mention it a bit if there’s a big news, or it gets close to the Finals. Otherwise, ESPN as a whole doesn’t give hockey much airtime at all.
Everybody knows that officiating in most sports, especially when it comes to calling penalties, is far from objective. NBA refs give star players the benefit of the doubt on foul calls. Soccer refs don’t call players for diving even when it’s so flagrant. Ice hockey is no exception.
NHL refs often call more or fewer penalties based on their mood and the mood of the game. It’s called game management. Basically an open secret. The NHL or any ref will never admit to it, but everyone knows it.
If a ref makes a bad call on one team, there’s no way for them to undo it. Instead what they’ll do is either let the team they feel they unfairly penalized get away with some stuff for at least a little while. Meanwhile they watch the other team like a hawk trying to find even the slightest thing to call a penalty on to even things up.
If a game is moving smoothly with lots of exciting back and forth action, and the players aren’t getting belligerent, the refs tend to turn a blind eye to a penalty here or there. Meanwhile if players are getting angry at each other, refs will start calling penalties on every little thing to keep things under control.
None of this is good. Refs should call players every single time if they commit a penalty. They should never call a player if they don’t commit a penalty. If it turns out that it means one team goes in the box 20 times and the other team is disciplined and goes in 0 times, so be it. If it means an exciting back and forth game has to stop play because of a penalty, so be it. We want objective officiating, and we know we’ve never had it.
There are many ways we can try to achieve it, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Something very interesting just happened. Referee Tim Peel was caught on a hit mic during a game.
“… there wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a **** penalty against Nashville early…”
Basically he’s admitting out loud on the record what everyone knows. He isn’t calling penalties objectively. He is using penalty calls as part of a game management strategy.
So what happened?
He’s out. As the pro wrestling fans would say, the NHL has to protect the kayfabe. They do their best to maintain the illusion that officiating is objective. There is little doubt that almost every single ref in the NHL, or possibly all of ice hockey, is guilty of this. Yes, that includes everyone’s favorite Wes McCauley. Tim Peel is just the one who unfortunately got caught and has to suffer the consequences. I don’t think this is fair that Tim should be scapegoated for a systemic problem. Then again, he was part of the problem. Then again, there is nothing stopping an individual NHL ref from actually doing their best to make objective calls, they just don’t.
Some added context is that Peel is considered one of the worst refs in the league. He was subject of a lot of derision for years. He also got into hot water with the league previously when he shared a picture on social media drinking with hockey writer Greg Wyshynski, who used to run articles called “The misadventures of Tim Peel” when he used to be editor of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog (Wyshynski later admitted that it was unfair to single out Peel).
So while it is unfair that Peel got the axe for this, nobody is exactly unhappy to see him removed.
ESPN article had this gem:
In 2015, Peel was removed from officiating a New Jersey Devils home game after being photographed at a bar drinking with a reporter. [Editor’s note: The reporter was ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the writer of this piece.]
It wasn’t us!
What were they paying, like 10 grand per player? That can’t be right.
It’s right. They were and are very underpaid. NWHL did not make enough money for it to be a full time job. Just about every single player in the league is doing something else as a full time job, or is a student.
This is a point a lot of people miss when discussing professional women’s sports.
While for many sports there are, in aggregate, performance differences for particular tasks, that is in many cases not the reason for perceived differences in performance compared to men’s sports.
The men also have the advantage of being paid well, having access to nearly unlimited training / coaching resources, and being able to dedicate themselves full time to the sport.
It is unreasonable to expect the same level of “performance” from women who are barely paid, have day jobs, and have no real career path in the sport long-term.
I bet if men and women had equal access to resources, there would be some women playing in the NHL today.
Tom Wilson of the Capitals is a piece of shit. This has been known for years. Though he has been suspended several times, he has never learned his lesson, mostly because the NHL only really started the punishment on him late and many people feel he never quite got what he deserved…
A couple of nights ago he punched Rangers player Pavel Buchnevic, while Buchnevic was face-down on the ice and Wilson was basically pining him down by the neck. He also grapped star Player Artemi Panarin by the hair, jerking him backwards and throwing him to the ice. This ended Panarin’s season, though with only a handful of games left to play and the Rangers eliminated from contention this may partially be precautionary. Wilson was only fined 5,000 dollars for this. The Rangers released a statement, calling this nonsense and directly labeling a “dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros” and I have no choice but to agree.