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Archive for January, 2010

Sedins, Burrows Continue to Roll

If you look at the top of the NHL’s scoring chart you will see Henrik Sedin.  Yes, Henrik Sedin is leading the league with 74 points heading into action on Monday.  He is, not surprisingly, second only to Joe Thornton in assists.  The difference this year, is that he has scored a career-high 23 goals already this season.  Daniel Sedin has missed several games otherwise he would likely be right up there with his brother.  As it stands he is already well over a point of game pace.  Not to be outdone, Alex Burrows already has over 20 goals this year as well.

The three have combined for 77 points in the last 15 games.  That is over 5 points a game, or close to 2 points a game per player.

Can they keep up this pace?  It would be hard to contemplate them continuing at this clip but there is nothing to show that they are slowing down at all.  Henrik leads the league with over 20 multiple-point games…over 20 multiple-point games with 30 games left in the season.  Henrik is certainly having a career-type season, staying ahead of the likes of Alex Oveckin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Joe Thornton for the league lead in points.  He, along with his brother, has shown that the Canucks were wise in locking them up long-term.

Stripes Offside on This One

I have tried to stay out of this one.  I didn’t plan to be writing a blog about this Burrows/Auger controversy but it just won’t go away.

For those who have been living in a cave here is a recap of what has been going on:

On January 11th at GMPlace, the Vancouver Canucks played host to their conference rival Nashville Predators with whom they are competing for a playoff spot in a vital “4-point game”.  Prior to the game, video evidence shows Stephane Auger pulling Vancouver Canuck Alex Burrows aside for a 31-second conversation.  Now, I have seen refs talk to players briefly during the play before a faceoff, after a penalty, or even after a disputed goal….I don’t ever recall seeing a ref talk to a player for such a long time before the game even starts.

The game would proceed with multiple penalty calls to both teams and play was quite even until late in the game.  With the game tied 2-2 in the third period Alex Burrows is called for unsportsmanlike conduct (or diving) and assessed a 2-minute penalty by referee Stephan Auger on a play that looked like a legitimate trip.   Then, with about 4 minutes left in the 3rd period of a tied game with the Canucks on a power play, Auger strikes again calling Burrows on an extremely dubious interference call…so dubious in fact, it is safe to say that only Stephan Auger thought it was a penalty…he probably should have called it 2 minutes for wearing 14 blue (Burrows’ number and jersey colour).  Everyone in the building was dumb-founded.  Watching on TV I was bewildered as to why Auger would call this penalty and was wondering how much he had bet on the Predators.  Everyone seemed confused.  Everyone except Burrows that is.

You see, Alex Burrows knew why Stephane Auger had singled him out with a penalty that wasn’t a penalty late in a tie game.  He knew why Auger seemed out to get him because, before the game, Auger told him he was going to get him.  You see, in a previous game Alex Burrows had embarrased Stephane Auger by embellishing a hit from behind resulting in a 5 minute major.  So, Auger figured he would get back at Burrows by embarassing himself again and calling a penalty that wasn’t a penalty to try to screw Burrows… and his team…and the fans…and the, to that point, unquestionable integrity of the NHL’s officials…and, yes, the game of hockey itself.

This vindictive and disgusting debacle of a penalty call, coupled with a subsequent dubious penalty call against the Canucks, cost them at least 1 crucial point in the standings and up to a 4 point swing in the standings against a team they are jockeying with for a playoff spot.  The Predators did score on the ensuing power play to take the lead with only a few minutes to play.

After the game, an irate Alex Burrows, who managed to wait til the game was almost over (3 seconds left) to voice his displeasure to Auger resulting in another misconduct penalty, could not restrain his disgust and, unprecedently, spoke to the media about the incident.  He described how Auger had singled him out before the game and told him that he was going to get him, and how he did a wonderful job staying true to his word, punishing the Canucks late in the game.  Auger allegedly even went as far as winking at Burrows after one of his phantom calls.

As Sporting Vancouver predicted on Twitter, Alex Burrows was fined by the league while referee Stephan Auger received no discipline.  The league quickly buried the issue, down-playing the incident as well as they could.  They claimed that they had investigated the incident and found no impropriety on Auger’s part…it sure didn’t take them long.  Did they even bother investigating it?  Do they not think this is important?  If there is any question at all as to wether or not the league referee’s are calling a game based on anything other than the rules…if there is any doubt as to their motivation shouldn’t an extensive investigation take place?  You would think so….but, you see, this is Bettman’s NHL.  An NHL that never admits wrongdoing no matter how many non-traditional hockey market teams fail, no matter how many times they crap the bed on league discipline, and, now, no matter how many dirty refs there are in the league.

After seeing this head-in-the-sand routine by the NHL on this issue, it leaves your humble blogger to wonder “what would stop a referee from mortgaging his house, betting all the money on a game he is officiating, and making sure the team he betted on won the game”?  Not the NHL.  Not Gary Bettman.  Not Colin Campbell.  Apparently, they are positively sure that there was absolutely no chance of any impropriety by Stephane Auger after their extensive one (1) day investigation in which the only person interviewed on the matter was….Stephane Auger.  Might as well write the referees a blank cheque…I think I might sign up for reffing in the NHL….I could make MILLIONS in hockey bets.  Wait a minute….bet…Bettman….bet…Bettman…