One More Time
The last I want to do is write another post about Alex Burrows but I don’t understand why the league has chosen to give the subject legs by making Burrows the villain of the piece. It would have been better for all concerned if they had left the issue swept under the rug. The Ron MacLean interview of Colin Campbell on HNiC on Saturday night and the subsequent response of Alain Vigneault on After Hours poured gasoline on the fire. Since then, MacLean has been defending the HNiC segment in the Vancouver media. Setting aside the dubious relevance of the HNiC report, MacLean touched on the nub of the real issue in L’affaire Auger:
“I absolutely 100 per cent can’t buy Auger would say I’m going to get you. I do dismiss that out of hand… The referee is committing suicide. Does he hate his career that much that he wants to go out and do that.”
I’m willing to concede this point because I don’t think it is very important, but I won’t concede it without pointing out the hole in the logic. A referee who said this is not committing suicide because the league will always dismiss such an allegation out of hand. All it takes is a measure of stupidity and or arrogance.
But fine, Auger did not explicitly threaten Burrows. Here’s MacLean again:
“It’s inconceivable for an official to tell a player he’d get him back. It’s not inconceivable that he would do it.”
Exactly. And that “conceivable” idea – that Auger would give Burrows penalties in one game for actions taken in another – is the only issue. That is the accusation. That’s the integrity issue and that’s the issue Colin Campbell has not addressed. Ex-referees like Paul Stewart and unnamed existing officials have acknowledged that it happens. It should not.
Does Burrows make life difficult for the officials? Sure. That’s Auger’s motive, his reason for abusing his power. The Smithson tape is evidence against Auger, not against Burrows. Payback is okay as long as the referee doesn’t explicitly threaten payback before he does it? That’s nonsense. The only good defense of Auger involves defending the calls he made on Burrows. At best, both were extraordinarily bad calls and I don’t buy coincidence as the explanation.
I don’t want to see Auger referee another NHL game. I don’t trust him.