In the eyes of fans outside their cities, Pittsburgh winger Matt Cooke is a similar player to Vancouver’s Alex Burrows.
And Cooke believes he doesn’t receive the benefit of the doubt from too many referees.
However, Cooke said he doesn’t believes any official has been out to “get him” in the way Burrows claimed this week about Stephane Auger — who happened to officiate Wednesday’s game between the Flames and Penguins at the Saddledome.
“There are times you feel like it is personal, but if you take your emotion out of it and watch the replays, the refs are trained enough to keep honest,” Cooke said after Wednesday’s morning skate.
“I’m a guy that plays on the line and have to find that line each and every night because there’s certain referees that it’s different than others. That’s the way it is. They have emotions just like we do, and I know how I am when my emotions are high and have to be sure to control myself.
“But I have to find the line and know if I cross it, I will get a penalty.”
Burrows claimed after the Canucks lost 3-2 to Nashville Monday night, Auger told him before the game he would “get me back” because the official believed Burrows embellished a hit in a game last month.
In that game, also against Nashville, Burrows was hit by Jerred Smithson and was on the ice for a long time, while the Predators centre was handed a major for boarding and game misconduct. The NHL rescinded the misconduct after a review.
Burrows scored both goals for the Canucks in Monday’s game, but was assessed a pair of third-period penalties at crucial times. He was also handed an unsportsmanlike conduct and misconduct with four seconds remaining.
“It was personal,” Burrows said. “It started in warmup before the anthems. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit. He said he was was going to get me back tonight and, after, he did his job in third, I think.”
Burrows was fined $2,500 (U.S.) for his post-game comments.
Cooke, a teammate of Burrows for three seasons, admitted he gets under the skin of officials — “every three or four games Dan (Bylsma, the Penguins head coach) has to tell me to be quiet” — and accepts judgement calls may not go in his favour because of it.
“I know that they won’t and I have to play accordingly,” Cooke said. “But I’ve never actually felt it was to the extent this sitauation is.
“When I get a penalty, I get a penalty. Moreso, for me, it’s (more frustrating) when there should be a call for something done to me.”