Former NHL referee laughs off Leafs fans demanding a suspension

May 5 2023, 6:34 pm

After Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett slammed Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Matthew Knies into the ice during Game 2 on Thursday night, the home crowd was audibly upset that no penalty was called on the play.

Knies was forced to leave the game due to the rough collision after the first period, having sustained an injury.

Despite the game carrying on, and ultimately ending in the Leafs’ second straight loss of the series, the subject of suspension is still in the air. While many agree that Bennett deserves to be disciplined for the action, former NHL referee Tim Peel does not.

After Thursday night’s game wrapped up, Peel took to Twitter to voice his opinion on the matter.

Peel, who was fired from his officiating job in 2021 after a hot mic incident, began by replying to a hockey journalist and podcast host who argued Bennett should get supplemental discipline for the hit, with an “lmfao!” and a row of laughing faces.

Peel later explained that he wasn’t laughing at the injury itself but rather the fact that Toronto fans deem it a “suspendible infraction.”

“I’d love to see the Leafs in the [Stanley Cup Final]” Peel wrote in response to one fan. “I think it would be good for the league!”

The former ref also got into it with none other than Sportsnet contributor and Leafs enthusiast, Steve Dangle.

“I just think if the jerseys were reversed this play wouldn’t garner any attention,” Peel wrote in response to Dangle.

“Oh I gathered as much,” Dangle replied, sarcastically stating that he just wanted Peel’s “expert opinion on why this is fine and dandy.”

While the officials on the ice — and Peel —deemed the hit clean, Bennett was issued a $5,000 fine on Friday for a cross-check he inflicted on the neck of Leafs forward Michael Bunting during the second period of Thursday’s game.

The impact of the stick brought the Leafs forward to his knees. Bennett didn’t relent though, giving his opponent a few more whacks while he was down on the ice.

Peel commented on the league’s disciplinary action as well, once again insinuating that Toronto fans were overreacting. “The meltdown has begun!!” Peel wrote in response to Dangle.

As for Knies, it was revealed on Friday that the rookie suffered a concussion from the play. According to head coach Sheldon Keefe, he is “unlikely” to return to the series.

The Leafs will head down to Sunrise, Florida, for Game 3 on Sunday as they look to avoid falling three games behind in the series.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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