Showing posts with label Referees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Referees. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stay in the Crease



A cautionary tale...

If you come across the ice and try to play the puck like that, you're going to get hit. Price deserved to be flat on his back like that. It was a good hit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Does the NHL Have a Referee Problem?


(Burrows and Auger)


This story won't go away:
During the last couple of days, I've heard or read that the NHL is facing one of the biggest challenges to its integrity in the long history of the game. There was an allegation that the league has its own version of Tim Donaghy, the so-called rogue referee who bet on NBA games, and -- partly due to its own actions -- is living its own "worst nightmare." There have also been charges that the NHL has "stonewalled" the Alex Burrows -- Stephane Auger matter and hasn't truly investigated it because to do so would not be in the league's best interest.

All of this sound and fury came about because of Burrows' allegation that he was approached by referee Auger before Monday night's Canucks-Predators game and told that he (Burrows) had embarrassed Auger in a December game. (Burrows supposedly feigned injury after being hit by Nashville's Jerred Smithson and Auger rewarded him by giving Smithson a five-minute charging major and game misconduct that was later overturned by the league after it determined that Burrows had taken a dive.) Burrows, in what has quickly become a legendary postgame rant, charged that Auger told him there would be "payback" and proved it with a series of third-period penalties directed at Burrows -- the last two of which were questionable -- that led to Nashville's game-winning goal.

Now, it apparently matters little, or perhaps not at all, to the alarmists that Burrows has no proof of his charge, or that he made it without any teammates, opponents or other on-ice officials having heard Auger issue his threat. Neither Burrows nor the Canucks could provide a single bit of evidence via video or audio despite the fact that the game was taped and televised. And Burrows apparently did not tell his coaches before the game that Auger was out to get him. He simply made his remarks with passion in the heat of a postgame environment where he was a focal point of a loss. The NHL, the Canucks, their fans and the hockey public at large were supposed to believe him.

I think the reaction is overblown. The NHL can take care of bad behavior and irrational actors all on its own accord. It has ever been thus. While you cannot win a fight with a man who can have you ejected from the game, you can conduct yourself in such a way as to make it apparent to all that you're focused on the game--he's focused on his agenda. Burrows should have told his coaches what was going on--that's the key here. No coach should be forced to try to play a game where one of his players has been singled out like that.

Burrows is out $2,500, and maybe he's out a little credibility as well. I would think that, if integrity is the heart of officiating, then Stephane Auger should be forthcoming about what he said and did, and why he said what he did, and then everyone can move on.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is No Way to Work the Refs


It's part of human nature to push back against someone who is criticizing your work:
Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows got a 10-minute misconduct for telling referee Stephane Auger what he thought of him late in Monday night's 3-2 loss to Nashville.

Burrows could be facing punishment from the NHL after sharing his opinion with the media after the game, including accusations Auger targeted him and promised to get revenge.

Burrows scored twice, but was in the penalty box for a second time when Nashville's Shea Weber scored the game-winner with 4:03 to play.

He said Auger approached him before the game and told him he was going to get him back for embellishing a Dec. 8 hit in Nashville that left Burrows crumpled on the ice, and resulted in Predators forward Jerred Smithson receiving a 5-minute major penalty for charging.

"It was personal," Burrows said. "It started in warm up before the anthem. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit. He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third."

Auger and the officiating crew declined to comment when approached by The Associated Press as they were leaving the arena.

Burrows was called for diving early in the period, and then for interference with 4:45 left, just 4 seconds into a Vancouver power play. Linemate Henrik Sedin received his third penalty of the game 18 seconds later and Weber scored the winning goal on a 4-on-3.

"He called me on a diving call. I didn't think was diving, he got me on an interference call. I have no idea how he could call that and it changed the game," Burrows said, adding his teammates "are battling hard for 60 minutes to win a hockey game because every two points are so huge, so important, and because of a guy's ego it just blows everything out of proportion and they're making bad calls and the fans are paying for it and we're paying for it."

Burrows received a third penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct with less than 4 seconds left in the game.

"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," Burrows said. "But with 3 seconds left and the faceoff outside the zone I thought I could tell him what I thought about him."

If you let your goal scoring, and your overall level of play do the talking for you, the referee has no where to go, in terms of retaliating against you. Let him talk. Let him say whatever he's going to say as you smile and skate away. Once others pick up on what he's doing, continue to do nothing. Play hard, score, and keep smiling. There's no way to win a fight with a referee in hockey.

That being said, if someone overheard Auger saying whatever he said, then Auger needs to answer to the league for his conduct as well. Even though it can get deeply personal on the ice, it has to stay professional. Fighting used to be a release valve for this kind of anger. Why is the referee getting involved in a matter that should be settled between Burrows and Smithson on the ice, which is where it belongs? If someone on the opposing team thought Burrows was flopping or playing dirty, that's when Smithson has to be the one to step up in order to defend himself. Burrows would then defend his actions, push back against the other team, or back off entirely. What you want is for the two players at the center of the controversy, and I don't see where there's much of one, to handle it between themselves.

This doesn't have to be settled with a fight, per se, but it could be settled in the course of a game with no need for anything more than a handshake at the end of the game. But it really comes down to the character of your team. Do you let the other team play that way? It's on Smithson to step up. If he can't enforce the unwritten rules of hockey, then a team enforcer has to fill the gap. If Burrows needed support from his own team in the form of an enforcer to deal with the other team's enforcer, then so be it. When you have the players regulating game conduct, and rightfully so, then the referees don't have to step in. There must be something broken here, otherwise, why would Auger even care? Why would he carry business from one game into another game?

What some misunderstand as thuggery is actually a gentleman's way of maintaining decorum. It used to work rather well.