1/12/2010 2:57:12 PM
This Alexandre Burrows-Stephane Auger situation is going to get messy. It's the proverbial can of worms for everyone involved – the league, the NHL Officials' association, referee Auger, player Burrows and the entire Vancouver Canucks' organization – and it's a story that is not likely to go away any time soon.
If the events of last night unfolded as Burrows has alleged – and there is plenty of evidence, circumstantial and otherwise – to suggest they did more or less, then the NHL will have no choice but to take some form of disciplinary action against Auger, be it a reprimand, a fine, a suspension or an evaluation that could go into his file and cost him playoff games and/or money along the line or maybe even his job.
And the NHLOA, the refs' and linesmen's union, will no doubt have no choice but to do everything possible to protect Auger, who by the way was the official who assessed Shane Doan a 10-minute misconduct that led to a major brouhaha over whether player uttered a cultural slur.
So you see where this is headed, eh? Nowhere good.
For those who may have missed it, here's the long story-short version of what went down:
In a Dec. 8 game between Vancouver and Nashville, Predator player Jerred Smithson was assessed a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct by Auger for a hit on Burrows. Nashville won the game 4-2, but in the aftermath of the game, the NHL rescinded the major/game misconduct against Smithson because the video evidence strongly suggested Burrows embellished the hit and faked an injury.
Fast forward to last night's game between the same two teams in Vancouver.
Burrows alleges that Auger came up to him in warm-up, before the anthem, and there is video showing the two having a conversation.
''A ref came over to me and he said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit and he said he was going to get me back tonight,'' Burrows said after the game.
Auger called a diving penalty on Burrows early in the third period and then called him for an interference penalty in the last five minutes of the third period. Shortly after that, Canuck forward Henrik Sedin was assessed a tripping minor and the Predators scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the third period. In the final seconds of the game, Burrows received a 10-minute misconduct from Auger for telling the ref what he thought of him. Burrows, by the way, scored both Canuck goals and came close to getting a third hat trick in four games.
After the game, a distraught Burrows fired both barrels at Auger.
''He got me on the diving call, I didn't think I was diving,'' Burrows said. ''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 for 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.
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