“It started in warm-up,” Burrows said. “Before the anthem, the ref came over and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit and he was going to get me back tonight. When Smithson hit me sideways he said ‘I saw the replay you had your head up and weren’t really hurt and you made me look bad and I’m going to get you tonight.”
The game Burrows is referring to is a game from December 8th, also against the Predators, where Jarred Smithson received a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct in a game Nashville also won 4-2. In last night’s game, Burrows was dinged for three penalties in the third period, two of which most folks are describing as “dubious” including a diving call that was not matched up with the usual accompanying penalty on the other team. Suffice to say, there’s some red flags here.
The fun part of tonight’s affair is that the Sportsnet cameras caught what might be part of the smoking gun on video. Have a look.
Obviously it’s impossible to tell much of what’s being discussed here even if you can read lips, it’s just six seconds of video. The fun part of this incredible accusation by Burrows is that it’s gotten folks all across Twitter to dig into Stephane Auger’s past to see if there are any other heated discrepancies and… You could say there’s a few and you don’t even need to check out games outside of this season to find some, two of which were games that were discussed right freaking here.
The first example is a game where his officiating partner Dennis LaRue took the heat for wrongly disallowing a Brad May goal against the Dallas Stars, a dubious decision considering it ended up costing Detroit the game. The other game occurred when Philly’s Daniel Carcillo cold-cocked Matt Bradley and Auger awarded Washington an unprecedented nine minute power play against the Flyers.
With all of this stuff popping up all over the place, another bizarre call by Auger on Burrows shows that the dislike for each other may go back even further still. Take a look at this video from last season.
Burrows was given a five-minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct for what amounted to basically nothing aside from Patrice Brisebois overselling a sort of hard hit. If I were Alex Burrows, I know I’d question an official’s ability if he’s handing out major penalties like that like they were candy.
Alex Burrows’ vision of what referee Stephane Auger actually is.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter here though:
Alex Burrows has made a very damning accusation, one that is tantamount to accusing the official of fixing the game. Burrows is no angel, he plays a game on the edge of being legal and illegal. He’s got a history of questionable hits and plays and he’s most certainly got a reputation amongst the players and the officials.
Stephane Auger, as is being unearthed even more as I write this, has a history of questionable calls and now has a very serious allegation being made against him, one where he’s even caught on video speaking with Burrows before the start of the game. This is a situation where the league has to do every bit of due diligence imaginable because the credibility of the game is being questioned. One thing that Gary Bettman cannot do is follow the example of his big brother in the NBA, David Stern.
In April 2007 when San Antonio Spurs superstar forward Tim Duncan called out referee Joey Crawford, Stern, ever the mediator, suspended Crawford for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs while fining Duncan $25,000 for slamming an official. Duncan received two quick technical fouls, one while he was on the bench laughing with teammates, and was ejected from a game that ended up costing San Antonio the second seed in the playoffs. Crawford was reinstated the following season and he promptly managed to make a no-call in a game between the Lakers and Spurs that cost the Spurs Game 4 of their series, an error so egregious the NBA apologized for it. Some consolation.
Gary Bettman and NHL head of officiating Terry Gregson cannot screw the pooch on this matter. If it turns out to be absolutely true that Stephane Auger said this to Burrows before the game he absolutely must be fired from the league. To have a referee go rogue like this and take it into his own hands to decide how he’s going to call a game and be purposefully slanted against one player on the ice puts that player’s team at an instant disadvantage and makes the game immediately unfair and destroys the competitive balance. If an official wants to take the game into his own hands in such a way, that’s an official that no longer needs to be affecting outcomes of games with their biased judgments.
If it turns out that Burrows was butt-hurt for blundering through the third period and Auger just happens to be a very mediocre official and Burrows opted to throw him under the bus because he flat out hates the way he calls a game then Alex Burrows better have a second career option waiting for him because if he thinks the calls are working against him now he hasn’t seen anything yet. Is there a referee in the world that would give Alex Burrows the benefit of the doubt for anything after leveling a complaint like that and it turned out to be false? No friggin’ way.
But if Burrows is telling the truth… The NHL spin doctors better be prepared for the enormous public relations nightmare that awaits them because every official is going to go under the microscope. If you thought the rules crackdown after the lockout was rough on teams, the rules reinforcement that will go down through the fallout of this situation is going to be eerily similar. After all, there can be no appearance of favorites and there can be no complaints anymore.
Bend over everyone, it’s time to take the temperature of the playoffs.
The Playoff Doctor will see you now.
I see the Canadiens, Blues and Sharks are already in position. How nice of you to be so helpful to myself and your opponents.
I know that Bruins fans want to think that they’re exorcising playoff demons here, but considering how schizophrenic the Habs were all season long, how awful they played leading up to the playoffs and how beat up they were… Is this really a surprise at all?
Yeah, yeah I know – rivalries, history, magic, aura… All that crap gets brought up and its stupid. None of that has anything to do with how horribly overmatched the Canadiens were going into this series and now that they’re on the brink of being shown the broom there’s nothing incredible nor overwhelming about it.
The Bruins weren’t the underdogs in this battle and they’re certainly not a rag-tag bunch of kids going up against Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden Canadiens either.
If the Bruins struggled at all in this series I would’ve been at a loss for words and then if you twisted my arm I might buy into that nonsense about never getting by the Canadiens ever.
Things change and this year things got a lot better for the Bruins and a lot worse for the Canadiens and its more than evident in this series.
The Bruins will get their first actual test in the next round…unless they face Carolina (trailing New Jersey 2 games to 1) or Philadelphia (trailing Pittsburgh 2-1), then forget it it’s a walk to the Eastern Conference Finals in that case.
If they get either the Rangers or the Penguins in the second round, things get shaky for the B’s since the Rangers (leading Washington 2-1) would have a goalie that can carry them far and steal games and the Penguins have offense to burn and give Tim Thomas fits.
In the Western Conference, I want to say that there’s rhyme or reason for why the Sharks are failing so hard, but I can’t even begin to imagine what the hell their problem is.
Presidents Trophy jinx? Get lost and stop reading my website.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t clutch enough in the playoffs? If you believe that kind of nonsense I’m going to find you and fire you into the sun.
Demotivated team whose boredom carried over into the opening round? Ehh…
That would make sense if they weren’t playing a team they hate in the first round, and let’s face it, San Jose hates Anaheim and there’s no way around that.
You want the truth of the matter? Here it comes:
San Jose went sputtering into the playoffs and then got the worst possible opponent they could draw in Anaheim – a team that was on fire since the trade deadline, a team that didn’t have a favorable schedule to close out the year when it came to making the playoffs.
Yet, here they are and they’re on fire and they’ve got that savvy veteran leadership that the playoffs was meant for.
Oh yeah, and they’ve got a team that plays sick defense. Remember the 2007 team that won the Cup much to everyone’s chagrin? Yeah, they’re just like that team was only this time they’ve got a lot of younger guys up front, a lot of whom came up in the Ducks system and they know it backwards and forwards.
The Niedermayer brothers are still there. Teemu Selanne is still there. Physics egalitarian Chris Pronger is still there. Hell, even Jean-Sebastian Giguere is still there and he looks dashing in a baseball cap while Swiss freak Jonas Hiller backstops the Water Fowl.
They’re not your normal eighth seed – these guys are good and they’re happy staying under the radar. They’re also still douchebags – so they got that going for them.
Should the Ducks move on, and with the way San Jose is playing it seems foolish to think that it won’t, a potential match-up with Detroit (who is busy schooling Columbus on the finer points of how to play hockey) in the second round will go down as the best series in the entire playoffs.
Bank on it.
Then you’ve got the St. Louis Blues…
Let’s face it, I got Andy Murray’s team all sorts of wrong here back in October when I said that they didn’t need to even show up this year because they weren’t going to make the playoffs.
What I didn’t get wrong though was about Andy Murray himself. Let me cite noted hockey blogger Hockey Joe, author of Gross Misconduct about what he had to say about Andy Murray:
The best part of this team, however, is the head coach Andy Murray. Murray is a smart enough guy and is always able to get the best out of his teams. He did very solid work with the L.A. Kings until things turned horribly southward there and it’s that experience Murray will have to draw on for handling this Blues team.
Such grace in those words – someone should give that guy a pat on the back. Of course, the next phrase after that was:
The Blues will have a spurt or two in them where they’re able to man-up and pull a few surprises out and goaltender Manny Legace, or presumptive backup from Nashville Chris Mason, are more than capable of stealing a couple games throughout the season, but don’t buy what they’re selling. This team is bad.
Damn it all.
I should’ve been wiser to Manny Legace having a meltdown at some point this season and I should’ve stuck to my guns about Murray as a coach. I also should have been smarter about the youth on the Blues roster and respecting what they could bring to the table right away in a situation that would demand they do it sooner than later.
Some how, some way the Blues managed to end up sixth in the Western Conference and their reward for that was Roberto Luongo and the Freaky Swedes with their Bore You Into Submission brand of hockey.
Any other time in my hockey life I’d be openly rooting against Vancouver because they’re like ether on ice.
Not this time.
I’m vengeful with my words and my middle fingers.
The Blues screwed me out of going five for five on my pre-season prediction and now they’re paying for it.
Hey St. Louis! I got two words for ya!
As for Vancouver, a tune up agains the Blues in what basically boils down to a rough scrimmage is just what they needed. Hell, the Canucks are even getting over on trashing the Blues verbally too:
Embarrassing – glad to have the Canucks on my side in this one.
The Canucks are getting hot and they’re destined for a second round match-up with either Chicago or Calgary (Chicago leads the series 2-1) and that works out just fine since those two teams are going to beat each others brains in for a while, or at least be cheap-shotting pricks:
I know that a lot of folks want to make their judgments on how the playoffs will go after one game, which is really fucking stupid.
I know I don’t usually swear around you guys but the fucking hockey media is fucking making me do it.
Denis Leary approved that rant and theft of his act because I write about hockey, assholes.
Sure, I could come out now and say that I think that there’s ZERO point in having any more games of the Penguins-Flyers series because the Flyers looked beyond putrid and that all they’re going to do over the next three games (yeah, I feel that confident) is take cheap shots and try to purposefully injure people.
Yet, Cammalleri will not be suspended by the NHL because, apparently the only difference between these two cheap and brutal shots to the head (Hey, remember that whole initiative Gary? How about you Colin?) is when they occurred during the game.
Actually the NHL’s actual reason is even more worthless than timing: It’s because it’s Cammalleri’s first offense.
Other snap judgments I could make after Game 1 are:
How the playoffs could be the undoing of Mike Green’s campaign for Norris given how he allowed Sean Avery to play him like a chump. Save the complaints, I know the awards are based on regular season play. I’m sure the voters are really on top of these things. Right…
How the Blue Jackets look terrified of being in the playoffs and should’ve faced off with the San Jose Sharks just to see if an NHL series could end with neither team moving on.
How the Anaheim Ducks are reaching back into the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs playbook for how to get away with murder on the sneak.
How the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks series will make wish to meet up with Dr. Kevorkian if I watch any more of that crap.
I don’t care if Vancouver is playing dirty or if St. Louis is too busy crying about getting abused like a teenage girlfriend from her ‘roided up football player boyfriend.
I don’t care, it’s boring and the Sedin Twins freak me the fuck out. They remind me of something I saw in a movie once…
Just jump ahead to the 0:25 second mark of that bad boy and you’ll laugh your ass off for a week. Or vomit. Either way, it’s a winner.
I won’t make those snap judgments though because they’re classically stupid. Expect better analysis than that after the weekend because even I’m a bit spooked by Chris Osgood’s outstanding goaltending against the Blue Jackets. Does that mean we just throw away everything that happened in the regular season now?
Tomorrow is Labor Day (or Labour Day to those of you with Canadian/European tendencies).
It’s not generally that big of a deal unless you manage a retail outfit and plan to SELL! SELL! SELL!
It’s a big deal over here in hockey fandom, however.
Training camp awaits and with it, just merely another month behind it, a new season.
Being that this is the start of Season 2 under the watchful eye of Gross Misconduct (nèe Violating the Trapezoid) and being that I keep an extensive watchful eye on teams that are out to ruin hockey, it’s about high time that I crank out a list of my Five Most Wanted for Offenses Against Offense.
I’m not going to rank them in order of sleep inducing to least likely to be boring, that’s just foolish. If you’re not actively trying to score at will in the game of hockey, you’re spitting in my face while trying to hit on my mother all at once. It’s straight up wrong and I want to punch you in the face for trying.
That said, let’s warm up the boredom train and pull into the station to wait it out, these teams are going to suck the fun out of a theme park.
1.New Jersey Devils
Surprised? No, you shouldn’t be and I just want to get them out of the way right now because Lord knows that they were going to pop up here now. Truth be told, every team not named “Pittsburgh” out of this division could go on this list but the Devils were the founders of hockey hell and they continue to hold the fort down. The way I see it, they’re dragging the rest of the division down with them. But I digress.
Games between the Devils and just about any team end up being ones with a small handful of scoring opportunities, dump and chasing akin to what you’d see from a person with a nasty case of Montezuma’s Revenge and lots of analysts talking about how they’d love to be Martin Brodeur’s next mistress, Chico Resch excluded since that’s a nightly event for him to wish that upon his star.
The Devils haven’t changed their philosophy at all since Jacques Lemaire was manning the bench and now it’s become clear that the mastermind behind hockey boredom was Lou Lamoriello. There are nice offensive pieces on this team (Elias, Gionta, Rolston, Parise) but everyone else is a defensive forward stiff out there to make sure no one takes any shots at all.
Some call this brilliant, I call it awful – and it’s been awful for nearly 15 years now. Devils fans are tired of hearing about it and the ones that do exist on the Internet are more than happy to chime in and say, “AWFUL TO THE TOON OF 3 CUPZ!11! LOL!11!” Just because you were the best at playing the worst brand of hockey ever imagined doesn’t give you something to hang your hat on.
Then again, folks in New Jersey have been proud of being mired in filth for a long time now. Par for the course I guess.
2. Vancouver Canucks You’re going to notice similarities between the Devils and Canucks here. Both teams have all-universe goaltenders. Roberto Luongo can’t do a whole lot more to help Vancouver than he has. Both have some nice offensive parts. The Sedin twins have become a pretty solid scoring duo the last couple of years. Both teams don’t offer much of anything else once you get past those big scorers.
What aides in making Vancouver dreadfully boring is that they play in the Western Conference – the place where you’ll find most of the harbingers of boredom in the NHL and Vancouver, if I were to actually slot out where they belong, would be a Top 5 offender.
This team plays everything close to the vest and their style of play has not deviated since the NHL came back after the lockout. Their series with the Dallas Stars in the playoffs two years ago was made of the stuff that cures Insomnia and the Canucks are happy playing it that way for a million reasons. Luongo can stand on his head to face 25 shots a night just fine. In fact their goal differential last year wasn’t bad at all considering they finished last in their division (-2, 213 GF 215 GA). It’s the point that they scored a mere 213 goals that’s the problem.
Things will not get better in Vancouver unless they allow Mason Raymond to go hog wild and skate around everyone.
3. Dallas Stars This team was a dreadful bore already. They play in a building that doubles as a hothouse for two-thirds of the year so the ice stinks year round even when its not 90 degrees outside. Come playoff time, forget it – you’re better off throwing a boat out on the rink and dragging guys around behind it on waterskis.
I mention this because it has everything to do with their style of play. They like to slow it down, they don’t exactly have the high-skill type of skaters and they’re really big on hitting guys in the mouth and thensome. This season, add in the Sean Avery factor they’ll at least have a little bit more “excitement” to them, but this is a team that is an affront to how hockey ought to be played. Steve Ott, Sean Avery, Krys Barch… these are not actually talented hockey players. Avery I enjoy for his antics and in being everything that NHL players generally are not. He’s not humble, he doesn’t give the same post-game interview and he frankly has no respect for anyone else – I’m OK with that in small doses in the NHL.
Goofs like Ott and Barch, however, are not enjoyable unless they’re on your team. Considering that Dallas will now have one of these clowns polluting three out of four lines, potentially, makes me fear the road the Western Conference is headed down. It was bad enough to have a team like Anaheim and their Circus of Unabashed Goonery polluting the hockey landscape but now it appears that Dallas wants to join them.
Stars captain Brendan Morrow was a guy whose play I enjoyed for a while, but now he’s gone the Jarome Iginla route of being a crying little girl come playoff time all while digging in with a cheap shot now and again – something we saw a few times just last season.
Consider me not a fan of that.
They’ve got a highly talented scorer in Brad Richards now and guys who at one time were talented scorers are aging and oft-injured (Modano and Lehtinen please stand up with the help of an assistant) while other guys have the lovely background of being a diving Nancy (please, get up Mike Ribeiro).
This is a loathsome team and they’re going to make sure to bother everyone and unfortunately, their style of play fits in ideally with what most of the rest of the Western Conference wants to do. They’ll fly under the radar until they end up at or near the top of the Conference and then once the playoff coverage begins, people will say, “Jeez, these guys are real assholes!”
4. Boston Bruins It’s all Claude Julien’s fault here folks. The Boston Bruins in their eminent wisdom after years of either not making the playoffs or getting bounced out too early for their liking while trying to cut corners financially finally caught up to the mid-1990s and got on the Dump-And-Bore train started by Jacques Lemaire and Lou Lamoriello. These financial skinflints headed up by Jeremy Jacobs finally got the master plan to skimp out on spending stupidly and hire a coach who would slow things down to the point of frustration for everyone on and off the ice all while improving the standing of the team and try to capitalize on how every other Boston-area franchise was trying to win it all.
After all, winning it all means you can sell more merchandise, gain more fans and find new ways to steal money from a fanbase more than eager to throw away their money on everything with the word “BOSTON” written on it.
Of course, what helps to do this is a team with superstars who wins in an entertaining way. Jacobs will settle for games that continually end up 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 will somehow find a way to be exciting just by the game itself being close in score. Enter Claude Julien and his “Defense first, second and third priority” style of coaching. This is especially heartbreaking because there are really talented scorers on this team who have been already brutally mismanaged by Julien and his boring style.
Phil Kessel and Patrice Bergeron should be the one-two scoring punch answer in the Eastern Conference to guys like Crosby and Malkin – instead, Kessel gets continually chided by Julien for not doing things his way and Bergeron is finally going to be recovered from a massive concussion he suffered last season.
Kessel is an electric player who under Julien’s watch won’t be given free reign to do just that. Bergeron will be fascinating to watch to see what, if any, ill-effects he has from getting blasted in the head from behind against the Flyers.
Julien’s answer, no doubt, will be to have him play better positional defense rather than try to track down a puck in the offensive zone – God forbid anyone bust their ass trying to retain possession and score goals.
At the very least, we’re assured that the games between Boston and Philadelphia will have a little fire to them, but outside of that and games with Montreal… who would I look forward to seeing Boston play? No one. Julien’s style doesn’t allow for teams to take advantage of them nor does it allow for his team to have the freedom to attack at will. It’s a counter-attack kind of team that relies on turnovers and power plays to do all the scoring. Five-on-five hockey is the time spent between opportunities to get a power play or to fight off on the kill. Julien’s favorite game is one that ends 0-0.
The worst part of this is that Julien’s style works. Somehow, horribly so, it works. Boston was the lowest scoring team in their division last year. They scored 19 fewer goals (212) than last place Toronto but allowed the same number of goals as first place Montreal (222). It’s a goal differential of -10 yet up until the final few months of the season, they were one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. Gross.
Their 212 goals were the third fewest in the playoffs behind New Jersey and Anaheim and they were one goal worse than the New York Rangers who scored 213. Thoroughly abysmal offense and stifling, boring defense-only style of hockey makes me want to stab my eyes out with icepicks and right now, the Bruins are the team I look forward to watching the least. For as exciting as their playoff series was with the Canadiens last year, I found myself wishing for Montreal to score eight goals on Boston just to see what Boston would do when they were forced to open up their game even a little bit. I pray that an emerging Kessel and Bergeron returning to form will get Julien to open things up a little, but I don’t see that happening as long as he’s coach.
5. Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are another long-time offender to hockey, and their fate was sealed in 2003 when they teamed up with the Devils to play The Worst Stanley Cup Final I’ve Ever Seen. Their 2003 team, like a lot of the teams who at some point adopted the Dump-And-Bore style was low on talent, had one line that could really actually score and three others that were great at grabbing attackers.
In 2007, the NHL saw fit to look the other way as the Ducks gooned and thugged their way to the Finals and won the Stanley Cup. After all, plenty of Cup winners have had teams that saw a guy get suspended multiple times during the same playoffs for cheap hits.
What hides the fact that they play a ridiculously boring style of hockey is their goonery. The fights, the cheap hits, the mouthy douchebag players all hide the fact that this team relies heavily on the power play to score at all. Jean-Sebastian Giguere has been their be-all, do-all goaltender since that 2003 Cup Finals season and the Ducks, out of all the teams on this list, have taken the lessons taught by the Devils of the mid-90s and extrapolated on them in a big way.
Giguere has proven he’s more than capable of stopping the same crappy 25 shots per game while his team chips and pokes and gums up the ice in front of him. If the opponent gets a little too excited and zips in behind the defense? Grab them. Cross-check them. Punch them in the face. Whatever it takes, just do it. More often than not, it’ll work and you’ll get them to retaliate which then turns the game into exactly what the Ducks want: A parade to the penalty box that allows them to put out the Brad May’s and George Parros’ of the world more to actually mix things up. Throw in an actually talented scorer who does nothing but run his mouth like Corey Perry and you’ve got the West Coast version of the Philadelphia Flyers… except that the Ducks actually win big games now and again.
All this yammering on from me and I haven’t even really gone into why Chris Pronger is, perhaps, the most loathsome puke in the NHL. The record speaks for itself in regards to him and enough people have wasted bandwidth on him and I’m not about to pile on. In short, screw Chris Pronger.
Some folks might argue that this teams penchant for fighting doesn’t make them boring. Fights and cheap shots, however, are false excitement that has nothing to do with teams putting the puck in the net. Fights are another category unto themselves, which, if I was to rank out teams I most enjoy watching when I have an urge to punch someone in the face, Anaheim might be at the top of the list because I know they’ll fulfill that urge.
Whether that’s thanks to them playing an abhorrent style of hockey that makes me wish for death or because they’re busy skating around the ice like the Hanson Brothers is irrelevant at that point.
Fact is, the Ducks scored the least number of goals of the playoff teams last year (205) and allowed the second fewest (191; Detroit was first with 184). They’re a dreadfully boring team to watch five-on-five as long as they’re not being goons. I’m glad this team plays on the West Coast so I’m not subjected to more of their garbage brand of hockey, unfortunately, as my hit list shows you and the Versus TV schedule backs up, we’ll all get more than our fair share of teams looking to ruin your NHL fandom.