I started to write a post about how last night’s game was the worst officiated game I’ve seen in a long time, but then Alex Burrows spoke up:
These are serious allegations against Stephane Auger and I hope the NHL cares enough about the integrity of the game to at least look into it. Did an NHL referee settle a personal score on the ice that could have cost one team the game?
[update: 01/12/2010, 8:36 AM]
Greg Wyshynski (Puck Daddy) has a great take on this, including a list of some of Auger’s more dubious calls.
Now, Burrows has certainly earned his reputation as one of the NHL’s top pests. But that shouldn’t undermine the validity of his concerns, especially against a referee with a bit of a controversial past.
As the Kurtenbloggers pointed out on Twitter, Auger was party to that insane no-goal for the Detroit Red Wings earlier this year; had previously ejected Burrows on a controversial call last February; and, most infamously, was the referee who gave Shane Doan (notes) a 10-minute misconduct after a linesman accused him of making culturally insensitive comments to Auger, who is French-Canadian. Doan vehemently denied the charge.
[update: 01/12/2010, 9:04 AM]
Bob McKenzie (TSN) weighs in:
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.
[update: 01/12/2010, 10:25 AM]
Mark Spector (Sportsnet) is reporting that the NHL is now investigating Burrows’ claims:
Referee Stephane Auger will likely face league discipline for his work in Vancouver Monday night, where he was accused by Alex Burrows of telling the Vancouver winger before the game “he was going to get me back tonight.”
NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell confirmed that a league investigation has begun, and a fellow referee said Tuesday morning that Auger will face serious questioning before being allowed back on the ice to work another game.