Friday, July 25th, 2014

Burrows and Auger

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I think Bob McKenzie is mostly right with his comment on the Alexandre Burrows vs. Stephane Auger incident:

If the allegations are true – and Burrows has far too much detail and at the very least a compelling case of circumstantial evidence (the video of the pre-game conversation, the diving penalty, the interference penalty and the misconduct penalty) – then the league has no choice but to discipline Auger. In the wake of the Tim Donaghy scandal, the NBA referee who was part of a game-fixing scandal, the NHL has no choice but to ultra-sensitive to allegations that one of its officials may have, wittingly or unwittingly, affected the outcome of a game to send a message to a player who showed up that referee in a previous game.

I think they have to fire Auger unless he can credibly deny the accusation (and in which case Burrows should face a suspension.) This is a dismissal offense. The credibility of league officiating (such as it is) falls apart with this sort of incident. It is one thing to excuse mistakes – even incompetence – but to suggest that an official deliberately delivered up anything less than an honest effort to be impartial is simply unacceptable.

But Burrows needs to understand that if he’s going to do something – embellish a hit and/or fake injury to draw a major penalty – that ultimately embarrasses the ref, there’s going to be payback at some point. That’s hockey. And while the Canucks can be outraged, and rightfully so at how last night’s game went down, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for someone from management or another veteran player on the team to take Burrows aside and explain that refs are only human and if you rub their nose in it, you’re going to get it back.

I hate the diving and I don’t blame Auger for being pissed about the Nashville incident. Burrows should pay a price for his actions. The natural – and just – consequence should be that Burrows (and every other player who frequently dives) loses the benefit of the doubt when it appears as if he was tripped or hooked or held. If the referee can’t be sure Burrows was fouled, he can assume a dive and let the call go. That’s reasonable. (And Burrows would probably stop diving once it became obvious it was a counterproductive tactic, one that was costing him more calls than it gained.)

But Auger can’t do what he did. He can’t punish Burrows with phantom calls. He can’t call him for unsportsmanlike conduct when Burrows falls down and he can’t call interference for a jostle on a faceoff when Burrows had position. Auger can get even by looking at fouls committed against Burrows with a jaundiced eye, but he can’t get even by inventing penalties. The former is a sensible response to diving, the latter creates an integrity issue that should cost him his job.

Update: Darren Dreger taps league sources to tell us almost nothing about the disciplinary hearing for Burrows. We do learn that “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.” What on earth is this supposed to mean?

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Comments

6 Responses to “Burrows and Auger”
  1. Dennis_Prouse says:

    No disciplinary action for Auger, apparently, but rather a reminder from Terry Gregson that talking to the players pre-game isn’t a very good idea. As for Burrows, he gets an insigificant $2500 fine. That sound you hear is the NHL’s broom sweeping this whole messy business under the rug.

  2. Sean Kaye says:

    Why do Canucks fans always feel that that they are being so hard done by? Everything is a conspiracy.

    Burrows is a cheat and a liar – that’s nothing to do with this most recent incident, that’s his history. He dives repeatedly, he feigns injury and his slur about Shane Doan was just sad.

    Conversely, Auger is a run-of-the-mill referee who’s unspectacular.

    McKenzie’s blog is a joke – circumstantial evidence is just that, circumstantial, it really isn’t proof at all. Referees talk to players ALL THE TIME during warm-ups. The whole concept that just because Burrows spun a good tale implies it is true because there is “considerable detail” is madness. Finally, when you’re assessing who’s more creditable as a witness, their prior history plays a very large role in believability.

    As for the penalties: the first one, Burrows WAS holding the other player’s stick, calling it Diving, who cares, it was a penalty. The second penalty was a bit of a joke, bad call. The misconduct penalty, totally justified, every player is taught at a young age that you don’t get to abuse the official, no matter what. So now, a referee makes a bad call and there is a grand conspiracy? Come on!

    Scott Morrison has a much better blog post about this on the CBC. Burrows is a cheater – end of discussion. Until he stops diving, faking injuries and making his opponents and the referees look bad, he loses the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because he’s a known cheater.

    Sometimes, these things are just karma. What goes around, comes around. Burrows has slandered credible players, he’s acted like a pork chop to draw penalties on clean hits, he’s taken a fair few dives and has rolled around the ice an awful lot. To think that should go unchecked is nonsense. Perhaps like Morrison suggests, if one of the senior players on the Canucks had sat him down and told him the diving and other crap was no longer tolerated, then maybe it wouldn’t have come to this – instead, nobody in Vancouver showed any leadership with this guy and tried to remove from his repetoire what is effectively a blight on the game. Now they cry foul. Its all unfair. Drawing penalties on dives and feigned injuries isn’t fair, it costs other teams games. Get over it.

  3. Tom says:

    Referees talk to players ALL THE TIME during warm-ups.

    I don’t think they do. I think they have been told to avoid it. But anyway, fine. I want to know what Auger claims was said. What were they talking about? If it was anything besides “How’s the family?” we’ve got an implied threat and the subsequent execution on the threat.

    Actually it was Auger who accused Doan of using a racial slur. I don’t think Burrows has had any history with Doan. It was Auger who emerged from that incident with zero credibility.

    I don’t know what conspiracy you are talking about. Who sees a conspiracy? This is about one petty referee and the way he apparently took his revenge on one player.

  4. Dennis_Prouse says:

    In fairness to Auger, apparently that Doan misconduct was called by the linesman. Auger really had nothing to do with it, other than reporting it to the penalty bench.

    I read this week that the NHL considers Auger to be one of its top officials. I was shocked. When I think top official, I think McCreary and Van Massenhoven. (I have always thought Van Massenhoven was the most underrated official they had, in fact.) Then again, expansion plus the two referee system has caused a huge influx of new officials into the NHL of varying quality.

  5. Roberto says:

    Why do Canucks fans always feel that that they are being so hard done by? Everything is a conspiracy.

    Burrows is a cheat and a liar – that’s nothing to do with this most recent incident, that’s his history. He dives repeatedly, he feigns injury and his slur about Shane Doan was just sad.

    Why are you easterners always such pooffs who can’t see dirty business for what it is? Keep turning your cheek. I’ll punch the guy in the face who strikes me, thank you very much.

    Burrows is a cheat and a liar

    And your evidence of this is what, exactly? Ignoring the incriminating evidence against Auger on one side, and assuming Burrows’ guilt in the absence of any evidence whatsoever on the other, brings a certain word to mind – hypocrisy.

    - that’s nothing to do with this most recent incident, that’s his history. He dives repeatedly, he feigns injury and his slur about Shane Doan was just sad.

    It was Auger – you know, your favourite average referee of impeccable character – who accused Doan of making racial slurs. Get your facts straight before making false accusations. It’s called “Google”.

    http://puckstopshere.blogspot.com/2006/01/shane-doan-sues-liberal-mp.html

    Referees talk to players ALL THE TIME during warm-ups.

    According to Ray Ferraro on the Team 1040, he had never been spoken to by a referee during a warmup for more than a few seconds in passing. Auger followed Burrows around the rink for TWO FULL LAPS. That is unheard of, according to Ferraro, and he played 18 years in the league, and was a noted pest and not a referees’ favourite. How many years did you play in the NHL?

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