Tag: Stephane Auger

Stephane Auger

Columnist thinks Stephane Auger may have been forced out of work


Yesterday’s announcement that referee Stephane Auger decided to retire from the NHL after 13 years at age 41 came as a bit of a surprise. After all, referees retiring well into what should be the prime of their career is a bit strange.

It’s so much of a surprise, in fact, David Shoalts of The Globe And Mail believes it may not have been Auger’s decision to retire.

The Montreal native decided to retire at the age of 41, the league release claimed, “in order to spend more time with his wife and three children.” There was no mention of a private income, recent inheritance or lottery win that would make this possible.

However, if Auger was forced to the retirement line, as some of his peers suspect, he is entitled to a severance package that will allow him as much as a couple of years as a stay-at-home dad, depending on his length of service. Auger could not be reached for comment but the fact he was not given a farewell season, as many referees are, also indicates the “retirement” was not his choice.

Auger hasn’t been the best of officials in the league. In fact, you could argue he’s been one of the poorer men in stripes in the league. Working just 10 playoff games in 13 seasons of work shows as much. If this was the league’s way of saying, “Go out on your own terms or ours” though, Auger made the right call to leave with his head held high.

PHT Morning Skate: Let the All-Star ballot box stuffing begin

2012 All-Star Game logo

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Come one, come all. It’s time to load up the votes for the All-Star Game in Ottawa. (NHL)

The New York Yankees would still love to have a Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium. Hey guys, ditch the lame college bowl game and we’ll talk. (River Avenue Blues)

Eric Staal moving to the wing in Carolina? It could be a permanent thing. For the time being anyhow. (Raleigh N & O)

Brent Seabrook left last night’s game against Edmonton with a lower body injury. (Chicago Tribune)

NEWS FLASH! Stephane Auger continues to be a terrible referee that infuriates both teams. (Delaware County Times)

Bruce Boudreau paid a visit to the Hershey Bears. No, not for the chocolate tour. He needs to see what they’ve got for defensive help there instead. (CSNWashington)

Minnesota’s Marco Scandella has a concussion. We just really like the name Marco Scandella and hope for the best. (Russo’s Rants)

You can’t stop Steve Montador from scoring, you can only hope he allows you to go peacefully about your day. (CSNChicago)

The Wild get back on track and beat the Ducks 3-2 while chasing Jonas Hiller for good measure. (OC Register)

Finally, check out Flyers rookie Zac Rinaldo getting taught a lesson in fisticuffs by veteran Matt Bradley. (NHL)

Stephane Auger to officiate first game in Vancouver since Burrows incident

Stephane Auger

TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver is reporting that Stephane Auger, assigned to referee tonight’s Blues-Canucks game at Rogers Arena, will officiate in Vancouver for the first time since the infamous Alex Burrows incident.

As a refresher, here’s what transpired between Burrows and Auger on Jan. 11, 2010:

Burrows, who scored two goals in Vancouver’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday, received a 10-minute misconduct with four seconds left in the game after complaining to Auger, who penalized the Vancouver player twice in the third period.

“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 after the game. “But with three seconds left and the faceoff outside the zone, I thought I could tell him what I thought about him.”

Burrows said Auger — an NHL official since 2000 — told him during the warm-up that Burrows made him look bad when he drew a major penalty after Predator Jerred Smithson charged him in Nashville on Dec. 8.

“It was personal. It started in warm-up before the anthem,” Burrows said. “The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit.”

Smithson got a major penalty and a game misconduct for a charging penalty on Burrows.

“He said he was going to get me back tonight, and he did his job in the third,” Burrows said.

After an NHL investigation, Burrows was fined $2500 for his comments, Auger received no punishment and Vancouver dreamed up a billion paranoid conspiracy theories about how the man was trying to keep it down. Or, as we refer to it locally, “the usual.”

You wouldn’t believe just how long this carried on for, even though Ron MacLean of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada had a lot to do with that. He ripped Burrows quite severely on the program, so much so that Burrows’ family filed a complaint to CBC (with Burrows’ father calling it “verbal assassination.”) That gave the story roughly 14 extra weeks of shelf life.

As for tonight’s game, there are three other officials working not named Stephane Auger. They are Dan O’Halloran (referee), Don Henderson and Thor Nelson (linesmen).

Canucks forward Alex Burrows and referee Stephane Auger renew acquaintances tonight on Long Island

Stephane Auger

The job of an NHL referee is generally to try and go through a game and to not be noticed at all. Sure, make your calls and whistle for penalties and point for the goals but you don’t want fans to know your name going into the game and you certainly don’t want them leafing through the game program to look up your name after a bad call. In the case of Stephane Auger, we all got to know his name really well last year thanks to Alex Burrows.

Burrows accused Auger of having a personal vendetta against him after a particularly tough Canucks game, a 3-2 loss to Nashville, in which Burrows was booked for three minor penalties, two in the third period, one of which led to the Predators go-ahead goal. In Burrows’ checkered career, this game could qualify as the low point of it all venting his frustrations in bombastic style after the game.

Tonight, Auger is set to be on the ice for a Canucks game a full year to the date since the game in question. It’s the first time he’s done a game Burrows has played in since then and if you think they haven’t taken notice of this in Vancouver, you’re greatly mistaken.

“It’s not a big deal to me, really,” Burrows said after this morning’s game-day skate at Nassau Coliseum. “It’s something I have put in the past. Tonight I am not going to approach the game differently. It’s a game where we have to get back on the winning track and I am going to do everything I can to do that.”

Burrows does not anticipate having any kind of chat with Auger before or during tonight’s game.

“I haven’t talked to one ref all year,” Burrows said. “I won’t change that.”

Burrows has been a changed guy this year. His chirping and borderline dirty has disappeared and he’s still playing good, solid, physical hockey. His goal output compared to last year is a bit down but he’s still a key contributor to the Canucks attack. That said, not everyone in Vancouver is excited to see a game with Auger prominently involved once again. Iain MacIntyre of Puckworld voices his thoughts on Auger’s work.

Regretably, it had to happen at some point. Clearly, the NHL isn’t going to fire Auger of they’d have done so last summer. So the referee is here for a while and so are the Canucks and Burrows. Still, a year without Auger was not long enough.

I’m disappointed to have Auger work the Canucks. But not because he’ll act unfairly towards Burrows, but because Auger is consisently erratic and low-grading, as revealed by the NHL’s annual decision not to schedule him for playoff games. Long before the Burrows incident, I considered Auger and Brad Meier the two most frustrating referees in the league. And lest anyone think I have a low regard for NHL officials, generally, I actually think they do a pretty good job. My favorites include Kelly Sutherland, Tim Peel and Tom Kowal, and most of the senior officials — Dave Jackson, Paul Devorski, Don van Massenhoven and Dave Jackson.

Does that mean we’ll hear cries of “Fire Auger!” at the first bad call of the night against the Islanders? Well, we might’ve heard that that from Canucks fans regardless of the referee involved. Canucks fans being as fiery as they are would be likely to yell no matter what. Still, it’ll be fascinating to see how things play out should things get out of hand at all. If the Islanders want to test their luck, stirring things up with Burrows might not be the worst idea.