After a long and thorough investigation – please note sarcasm here – the NHL issued their ruling on Burrows v. Auger last night.
After separate hearings on Tuesday, the NHL has decided not to punish referee Stephane Auger, but fined Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows $2,500 US for his accusations that the on-ice official was out to get him in a Canucks-Predators game on Monday.
Considering Burrows lambasted a league official publicly, the result was probably the best Burrows could have hoped for.
Certainly, the spectrum of reactions to this has been interesting. Cam Cole (Vancouver Sun) expands:
Everyone in hockey’s universe has an opinion on the incident, it turns out, and the reaction can be roughly divided into two camps:
1. Canuck faithful, who believe Auger should be run out of hockey, or banished for a very long time, for taking a personal vendetta into a game, and costing the Canucks an important two points in the standings. Of these, most agree that the ref’s alleged pre-advertisement of his intentions was among the dumbest acts ever — Auger should have just done the deed, and skated away, leaving Burrows to figure it out for himself.
2. Canuck haters, who think Burrows is a soccer player on skates, a well-known diver who made his bed and shouldn’t have been surprised when he had to sleep in it. Of these, most think he should have taken the hosing by Auger like a man, and kept his mouth shut.
All right, maybe there’s a third camp:
3. Those who think they should both pay. Yes, what Auger did was despicable and ham-handed and probably worthy of a suspension and temporarily banishment from playoff assignments, but on the other hand Burrows couldn’t possibly have thought that he could play his whole career the way he plays and never harvest the fallout from making officials look foolish.
But what I found most interesting was how else you could potentially divide who falls under camps 1 and 2; from what I’ve seen, most who subscribe to camp number 1 are fans and most who subscribe to camp number 2 are players or others who have an association with the NHL. Take for example the poll on TSN yesterday that showed most hockey fans believe Burrows. On the other end of things: Kelly Hrudey and Ray Ferraro both went on the air yesterday and suggested that Burrows shouldn’t have come out and said what he said, and today, Damien Cox called Canucks Nation a bunch of whiners. Even Craig Conroy called Burrows a tattle-tale.
I don’t know if the latter group are missing the point deliberately. In this case, Burrows’ reputation is irrelevant. The point is whether or not an NHL official – Stephane Auger – settled a personal vendetta and influenced the result of a game. The point is whether or not the official compromised the integrity of the game. It’s precisely why fans – and by fans, I’m not talking about Canucks fans but hockey fans – were up in arms about what happened. After all, for an NHL official to use his power in a manner that cost a team points in the standings is a serious matter and inexcusable. And for anyone to suggest that it’s simply a case of “making a mountain of a mole hill” is asinine.
On a related note, did anyone catch this tidbit from Darren Dreger’s (TSN) column:
While his reputation of late is one of a gifted goal scorer, some inside the NHL’s head offices, at times, have seen a dark side, and a player whose on-ice motives haven’t always been pure.
Care to elaborate, Darren? Or is this just pure mudslinging?