VANCOUVER, B.C. – Feisty forward Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks says he wants to put his allegations of biased NHL refereeing and their treatment by the CBC behind him.
Burrows, whose charges have overshadowed a seven-game scoring tear, said referee Stephane Auger told him he was out to “get him back” prior to a 3-2 loss to Nashville on Jan. 11.
“We want to move on now,” Burrows, who was fined the maximum $2,500 by the NHL for his outburst, said after Tuesday’s practice.
The fine came after the league named him its Player of the Week. Burrows has scored 11 goals in his last seven games, including back-to-back hat tricks.
He and the official skated slow circles during the warm-up and Burrows said Auger told him he caused embarrassment by embellishing a penalty the last time the two clubs met.
In that game, Auger assessed a major and game misconduct against Jerred Smithson of Nashville for a hit on Burrows. The league later rescinded the game misconduct.
On Jan. 11, Burrows was called for diving, interference, unsportsmanlike conduct and assessed a 10-minute misconduct.
He was in the penalty box for interference and the Canucks down two men late in the game when the winning goal was scored.
“There’s a lot more important things going on right now,” Burrows said. “We’re in a tight playoff race and we have a chance to get the Northwest (Division) first position.
“So we’ve got to make sure we play well (Wednesday night in Edmonton) and make sure that’s what we’re focused on.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who has publicly defended his player several times and said he believes his accusations against Auger, also appeared to turn the page on the incident.
“For all of us, this is a situation that we can’t win and can’t even get a tie,” Vigneault said. “When I say us, I’m including our players, our coaches, management, our fans … .”
Vigneault was quick to defend Burrows after Ron MacLean, CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada host, took Burrows to task in a pre-game segment Saturday night.
The telecast showed Burrows’ incidents of embellishing penalty calls, spearing, punching and trash-talking to an opponent.
MacLean, a Gemini Award-winning commentator with experience as a certified referee, said he doubted an NHL official would tell a player he wanted to exact revenge for duping him into a penalty call.
Vigneault saw it differently when he appeared on CBC’s After Hours that followed the Canucks’ 6-2 win against Pittsburgh where Burrows scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
“I think it’s really quite unfair from your boy Ron MacLean to go after Alex the way he did tonight, and take the footage that he did tonight,” Vigneault said on television.
“Ron MacLean should have had the footage of Auger and Burrows skating 31 seconds together prior to the game. That footage has never come out.
“You only see Auger and Burr talking to one another for about four seconds, but they did two full loops together and Stephane Auger and Alex Burrows agreed on everything that was said except for one thing (Burrows’ charges of bias).”
Burrows said his parents, who live in the Montreal area, are upset with the CBC and surprised they have fielded questions from the media about the controversy.
“They want the same thing for me,” said Burrows who talked to his father Rodney and mother Carol, a high school principal, on Monday night.
“They want to move on. They want to keep watching games and they want me to score goals and they want me to win games and they want me to get into the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.
“They’re great parents, I love them a lot and they’re behind me.”
When asked whether he thought his outburst would cause such a storm as he rode a stationary bike after the Nashville game, Burrows replied:
“I didn’t really think about that. Since it happened my focus has been playing every game and contribute to the team’s success. That hasn’t changed.”