Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is revenge best served on the cold ice of an NHL arena?

"If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge" -- From William Shakespeare's, the Merchant of Venice.

Over the years, Alex Burrows has been accused of harboring some thespian ambitions, but we somehow doubt that on Monday in Vancouver, when Stephane Auger, leaned over to Alex Burrows and whispered something en francais to the Canuck, that they were comparing lines from one of Mr. Shakespeare's works of literature and theatre.

But considering how things have evolved over the last twenty four hours, revenge it seems is something that is going to be a talking point for the next little while.

The NHL came down with a 2500 dollar fine Tuesday on the Vancouver Canuck's winger, that after he suggested that NHL official Auger had it in for him and had in effect threatened him prior to the commencement of Monday nights game.

Burrows was serving a penalty (with Henrik Sedin in for company) when the visiting Nashville Predators scored what turned out to be the winning goal, and afterwards a clearly agitated Burrows expanded on his thoughts for what perhaps could be the next big Oliver Stone film.

The way Burrows explained things on Monday, Mr. Auger was nursing a grudge over a past incident which it's suggested that the Vancouver player embellished a hit, taking a dive in effect and thus putting the official, Auger in the doghouse with his superiors.

According to Monday's post game scrum, Burrows claims that Auger told him he was going to get him for that, and as Burrows sat in that penalty box those words he says were said manifested into a grudge carried out.

There has been little heard from Auger on this topic and its doubtful that we'll hear much about it in the short term, though one wonders if there will be some changes to the officiating schedule over the remainder of the season, keeping Burrows and Auger coasts apart.

Auger for his part is no stranger to controversy, just ask Shane Doan! Four years ago, he was famously penalized for a tasteless comment, a slur against french Canadian playes made by another player, that Auger attributed to him. It was a move that left Doan unjustly criticized, sometimes with venomous outbursts by some in the province of Quebec for comments that he never uttered.

So clearly Mr. Auger comes into the debate with more than a little baggage.

More importantly for the league however is the fact that the integrity of the game could now be topic one, players regularly claim that certain refs have it in for them, it's an ages old battle cry that normally never leaves the sanctuary of the dressing room.

Burrows changed all of that with his impromptu press conference of Monday, a bit of improv that will most likely mean that every game he plays through the rest of the year will be under much scrutiny, from not only the officials on the ice, but the officials at the head office in New York.

It may provide him with more freedom on the ice, or it could mean that he develops a very familiar relationship with the penalty box, only time will provide us with those possibilities.

Likewise, Mr. Auger will find that his on ice appearances will be watched with much interest, to see if he allows emotions to enter his calls, if his conversations with the players offer up more than just the normal banter between officials and players.

They may not have known it when they had their chat at GM Place on Monday, but those few seconds could very well change the relationship between players and officials for a very long time to come.

As the Bard would have put it had he been a hockey fan and beside the boards on Monday, "What's past is prologue"!

Vancouver Sun-- NHL must deal with referee Auger’s bad behaviour, Canucks with bad Burrows
Vancouver Sun--NHL fails to see smoking gun, as Auger goes unpunished while Burrows fined $2,500
Vancouver Province-- Canuck Alex Burrows fined $2,500 for comments about referee
Vancouver Province-- 'It was personal,' Burrows says of ref
Vancouver Province-- League needs to nip potential scandal in bud
The Globe and Mail-- The NHL's worst nightmare
National Post-- Burrows fined as NHL launches investigation
The Toronto Sun-- Burrows opens NHL can of worms
Montreal Gazette-- Burrows opens can of worms
From the Hockey Nation blog

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