By now, everyone and your mom has heard and read Alex Burrows comments about NHL referee Stephane Auger following Vancouver’s 3-2 loss to Nashville last night.
In case you aren’t caught up, allow me to help out.
- According to Burrows, prior to the game starting, Auger approached him and said the following: “I made him look bad in Nashville on the (Jerred) Smithson hit and he said he was going to get me back tonight.” (via TSN)
- Burrows was called for a diving penalty (which comes with a fine) in the 2nd period, an interference penalty in the 3rd period, and received a 10 minute misconduct in the final moments of the 3rd period.
- The Canucks lose a close game 3-2 and are no longer 1st in the Northwest division.
- Burrows goes off after the game, saying the following quote to anyone and everyone with a microphone, recorder, and ears:
“[Auger] did his job in the third, I think. He got me on a diving call I didn’t think was diving. He got me on an interference call that I had no idea how he could call that. It changed the game. It sucks right now for teammates who are battling 60 minutes to win a hockey game because every two points are so huge, are so important. And because of a guy’s ego, it just blows everything out of proportion and the refs – they’re making bad calls and the fans are paying for it and we’re paying for it.”
-Alex Burrows on referee Stephane Auger following a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators
- A PR shit-storm has been created.
If you want to see highlights of the penalties Auger called on Burrows, KuklasKorner has a great video breakdown.
Some not-so-classy repercussions from Burrows comments…
- Rightly or wrongly, Burrows is one of those pest type players who carry a reputation around the NHL. I think it’s safe to say Burrows probably won’t get any benefit of doubt calls from a lot more referee’s following the comments above.
- This isn’t the first time Stephane Auger has been the center of controversy in the NHL. Seriously, did anyone really believe the Doan incident?
- The NHL has seen a number of referee involved PR-disaster stories this season alone (Ottawa Senators/Bryan Murray commenting on no-penalty games, various blown calls on goals). The NHL needs to get a handle on this crap and soon.
- Can the NHL have Auger as a referee in any more games for the foreseeable future or ever again? Whether this whole incident is true or not, allowing him to officiate vital down-the-stretch games won’t help the NHL’s credibility.
- How does this affect Auger’s career? You can bet he won’t be asked to work any playoff games this season, or possibly ever again.
- How do other NHL officials view Auger? Will they support him or not?
- How do other NHL players view Burrows after his outburst? Will they support him or not? Will they take advantage of the lack of leniency Burrows will undoubtedly receieve from other referees?
I can only begin to understand Alex Burrows frustration with this issue, however, I have a problem with him bringing it up to the media. Opening a can of worms like this makes hockey look stupid and brings yet another negative PR story to the surface. By now, this story has seen very heavy distribution across Canada and to a lesser extent, America. And it probably won’t go away any time soon with investigations being launched, subsequent fines to Burrows (I’m assuming he’ll be fined for his comments), and any additional discipline to Burrows/the Canucks organization/Auger. I would like to have seen (or not seen) Burrows go through the proper chain of command (ala Bryan Murray going to the head of officiating for his complaints) and keep this story away out of the limelight.
I understand if Burrows brought this up the way he did to have the issue seriously addressed. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I’m assuming he did this to avoid having the issue ‘swept under the rug’. But still, it seems Mike Gillis has some pull with the NHL (ie- the Leafs tampering claims) and getting them to listen to the concerns of the Canucks. At any rate, this is going to get a lot messier before getting anywhere closer to being resolved. Let’s just hope the Canucks make the playoffs easily and don’t miss the post-season by one or two points…
What do you see as repercussions for Augers accusations/calls and Alex Burrows? Discuss.
Stay classy, Alex Burrows.