Sports Outside the Beltway

Vancouver Canuck Alex Burrows fined for referee comments

Anyone familiar with pro team sports had to know this was coming.

Canucks forward Alex Burrows has been fined for his rant to the media after the club’s loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

Burrows will pay $2,500 for his comments made towards NHL referee Stephane Auger.

Burrows told the media that before the game Auger came up to him and said he was going to get him back for making him look foolish back on December 8th in Nashville when Burrows was hit by Jerrod Smithson who received a five minute penalty.

The league said they would look into the claim Burrows made. According to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, the verdict is already in and it’s a predictable one.

A conference call involving Campbell, Burrows and Canuck general manager Mike Gillis ended with the NHL levying a $2,500 fine against the player and, according to a report late Tuesday, an absolute and unfathomable discharge for Auger.

In a case of he said, he said, it was Burrows who was going to get disciplined. But you know something? Auger had a conversation with Burrows before the Nashville game and it was caught on video by CSN.

Here it is.

There’s no sound unfortunately but a trained lip reader might be able to tell what Auger said over the last few seconds of the conversation.

Auger isn’t exactly clean in this situation. What the hell should he be talking to Burrows about before the game started? In light of the past history, a conversation should be avoided.

Iain MacIntyre, in the same Vancouver Sun article I linked to above, has more to say about Auger’s past.

Stephane Auger, at the epicentre of the National Hockey League’s most embarrassing officiating controversy in years, has long been considered one of the league’s poorest referees. He has a reputation for inconsistency and arrogance and even among peers is not especially popular.

Auger is the referee who four years ago assessed a gross misconduct penalty against Phoenix Coyote Shane Doan during a game in Montreal for an alleged slur against francophones.

A subsequent investigation by NHL justice minister Colin Campbell found the penalty and accusation baseless. Auger got it wrong. Whatever was said on Dec. 13, 2005 was uttered by Doan’s teammate, Ladislav Nagy.

This, however, mattered little to politicians who exploited the accusation to curry favour in Quebec. Doan, an honorable and honest player, was slandered.

I’m not familar with the Doan incident or whether Auger is a good or bad referee. Maybe what happened in 2005 was a honest mistake.

Even if his accusations against Auger were true, Burrows will forever be regarded by some referees as the snitch who brought scorn upon their profession. And the Canucks can forget about getting the benefit of the doubt from a referee anytime soon.

“It’s a concern, yeah,” Canuck coach Alain Vigneault conceded Tuesday morning, saying little else before travelling to Minnesota.

It is a concern and troubling one. The Vancouver columnist who wrote this was sometimes off the wall in his column. After all he also wrote-

Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t brook criticism from owners – his employers – so he was hardly going to leap at accusations levelled by someone as far down the food chain as Alex Burrows. He’s a player. From the East Coast League!

I’m still trying to figure out that comment. Is there a Vancouver Sun translator who could make themself available to this sports blogger?

Seriously, poor officiating is a problem in the NHL, one the league rather avoid. The other night in the Florida-Ottawa game, A Senator player made a above the shoulders hit to a Florida Panther in full view of a referee less than five feet away. No penalty was called! I’ve seen a half dozen other non-calls this year at least in the forty plus Florida Panther games I’ve watched.

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