‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident

83 Comments

Interesting piece here from the National Post, following Brandon Prust’s alleged dressing down from referee Brad Watson during Montreal’s 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday:

“You can’t win,” said Kerry Fraser, who officiated 1,904 regular season games and 261 playoff games, including 13 Stanley Cup finals, during his 37-year career. “What’s the end game to all of this? The end game is he questioned the integrity of an official and there’s not a win in that.

“Brandon Prust has engaged himself in something that’s going to take him into an area where he doesn’t want to be part of, because officials are human and they’re part of a team too. If you look at the team concept from a hockey players’ perspective, they stand up for their teammates. The same goes for officials.”

In the wake of an eventful night — Prust finished with 31 penalty minutes, tossed after a late-game altercation with Bolts goalie Ben Bishop and d-man Braydon Coburn — the Montreal forward made the rare move of calling out an official, claiming Watson launched into a verbal tirade while calling a penalty in the first period.

“He called me a piece of you know what, a [expletive], coward, said he’d drive me right out of this building,” Prust explained. “I kept going, ‘Yeah OK, yeah OK, yeah OK.’ He kept on me, he kept on me. I kept saying ‘Yeah OK.’ I wasn’t looking at him and he [added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty].

“That’s the ref he is. He tried to play God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight.”

Many have suggested Prust will now face the same fate as Vancouver forward Alex Burrows, who infamously called out former referee Stephane Auger in 2010. Burrows was fined by the league for his comments but many suggested it was his reputation, not wallet, that took the biggest hit; there were whispers (loud, loud whispers) Burrows was — and still is — a marked man among NHL officials.