January 12, 2010
Wonder how far that star has fallen now that Burrows has accused one of the NHL's referees of having a personal vendetta against him that manifested itself as a pregame threat of retribution, followed by 16 minutes in penalties against the Nashville Predators on Monday night?
According to Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province on Monday night, Burrows said that Auger claimed the Canuck "made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit" by feigning injury, and that Auger was going to "get him back" in the game against the Preds.
Burrows would end up leading all skaters in penalty minutes in the game with 16, including a dive and a 10-minute misconduct in the third period. He candidly spoke about Auger's pregame threat and the ensuing penalties during a postgame interview that's going to cause many a headache in NHL HQ on Tuesday -- and could cost Auger his reputation, if not his job.
"He got me on a diving call that I didn't think was diving and an interference call," Burrows said. "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."
The Canucks ended up losing to Nashville, 3-2.
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.
Plus, this pregame video (H/T Puck Buddy Goro) from the Canucks game is a smoking-gun when it comes to his pregame chat with Burrows:
Until we hear from Auger or the League, no judgments should be passed here. But in a post-Tim Donaghy world, the notion of premeditated bias from officials with the intention of punishing a specific player or a team is dire accusation - and it's not as if Auger's spotty NHL career easily scuttles that accusation. This should be interesting.