Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows dropped a bombshell last night, revealing his thoughts on referee Stephane Auger's conduct without any regard for the fines he would surely incur. Auger called Burrows for three penalties in the game, including one that took the Canucks off of power play late in the third period of a tie hockey game.
Visibly shaking and clearly upset, Burrows made his controversial comments in a post-game media scrum.
It was personal. It started in warm-up. Before the anthem, the ref came over and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit and he was going to get me back tonight. When Smithson hit me sideways he said 'I saw the replay you had your head up and weren't really hurt and you made me look bad and I'm going to get you tonight.' And it cost us two points.
He got me on a diving call that I didn't think was diving and an interference call. I have no idea how he could call that and it changed the game. Because of a guy's ego, it just blows everything out of proportion and the refs are making bad calls and we're paying for it. He comes into the game and he's going to make a call to give Nashville the advantage and I don't think that's fair for my teammates and for the fans.
After my second penalty I skated by him and he said 'If you say a word I am going to kick you out.' So I didn't say a word because I still thought we could come back and win the game. But with 3 seconds left and the faceoff outside the zone I thought I could tell him what I thought about him. It's stupid, he takes it personal against guys. I think he should sit out the rest of the year for making calls like that are making us look bad.
Should we believe Burrows? If his visible nerves aren't enough, SB Nation's Nucks Misconduct says he's the last person to make up something like this.
Alex Burrows is probably the last guy who would want to risk his career with a baseless accusation. Anyone who knows the story of how hard this kid has battled just to make it to the NHL can tell you, he feels like the luckiest guy in the world, but it's his heart and under-rated skill that got him here. Why on earth would he throw that away? The guy has 9 goals in 5 games and was the NHL player of the week. Makes perfect sense he would want to just screw his team over and get suspended, right?
Whether you believe Burrows or not, the incident has at the very least begun a dialogue among hockey people about the integrity of NHL officials. At the very worst, as Toronto Globe & Mail columnist Eric Duhatschek puts it, it's the league's worst nightmare.
When Alex Burrows opened his mouth Tuesday night in the aftermath of a 3-2 Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Nashville Predators to complain about the work of referee Stephane Auger, he said what a lot of people have been thinking for a lot of years:
That NHL referees do hold grudges; they do carry out vendettas; and they can affect the outcome of games with their calls. The third point is perfectly fine by the way, provided a referee's erroneous call is simply an honest mistake.
Auger was caught up to by an AP reporter after the game and he refused comment. As the Kurtenblog on Twitter went to lengths to point out last night, though, Auger has a history of questionable decision making.
Burrows and Auger go way back, back before the Smithson hit: http://bit.ly/4UaLLU.
Not that Stephane Auger has a track record of questionable decision-making or anything: http://bit.ly/8z5cQM
Not that Auger has a history, but check out this game recap: http://bit.ly/4vf88V. Doan plays for Phoenix, right?
The NHL is investigating Auger after the allegations, but a verdict isn't expected Tuesday. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy says that although the evidence against the official is "rather damning," it's now an issue of "he said, she said" between Burrows and Auger, and that "the NHL is going to have a hell of a time figuring out where the truth lies."