The Vancouver Canucks gave up a late power play goal in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday night, blowing a chance to move into first (or as it were, a three-way tie for first) in the Northwest division…but were there bigger factors at play?
Alex Burrows says yes.
The 28-year-old Quebec native is making some serious claims in the aftermath of a game that saw him notch a pair of goals, but also pick up third period diving and interference penalties before being assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and a 10-minute misconduct with seconds left in the game.
Burrows says referee Stephane Auger, a 10-year vet of the NHL, came up to him before the game and promised to “get him back” for making him look bad the last time he called a Canucks game, which by some strange coincidence, was also against Nashville.
Before we get to Monday’s incident, lets deal with the background:
At the 7:17 mark of a 4-2 Predators win over the Canucks back on December 8th, forward Jerred Smithson was given five for charging and a game misconduct for a hit on Burrows along the boards. Basically, Burrows takes a pass, turns up the ice and is wallpapered by Smithson, who definitely deserved some kind of penalty.
Why would Auger say he made him “look bad” though?
Here’s my best guess: after the initial contact, Burrows appears to look up for a second, decide to play dead for a minute or two and then gets up and skates off on his own accord. That’s what it looks like, anyways.
Back to Monday:
So Burrows alleges that Auger said he was going to “get him back” by making these pre-meditated calls against him at key points in the game. It sounds far-fetched, but there’s video of Auger approaching Burrows before the game and the calls against Burrows are pretty weak. That, of course, proves nothing, but it makes you wonder.
I find whenever I criticize refs, I always get it from certain people who say “they’re only human,” arguing that I can’t expect them to be perfect all the time because of that. Well, if Auger is “only human,” it’s well within the realm of possibility that he could hold a grudge against a player and actually try to pull something like this off.
Is that what happened? I have no idea. If it did…oh boy.
What will be interesting in the next couple of days is seeing what punishments (if any) the league hands out, and to whom. I can tell you this though: if the whole thing was in fact a bit of “refvenge,” Auger will be in a lot of trouble!