SUN Hockey Pool

Not all black and white

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The player was a rookie, and already the official had enough of him.

"How about you play more than one year in the league before you tell me to f*** off," the official said to the youngster whose whining had worn thin.

And people wonder whether NHL referees treat all players the same?

You can't help but believe there is a hint of truth to the claims by Vancouver's Alex Burrows this week that referee Stephane Auger would keep an eye on him in Monday's game -- or more.

It's impossible to prove whether Auger did or didn't tell Burrows he would get him back for embellishing he was injured in a game last month to draw a major penalty, just like it's impossible to prove Auger did exact revenge with the calls against Burrows this week. But it brings up two valid points.

For starters, officials have to do the impossible, keep their personal feelings out of their whistles the best they can.

Sure, it would be extremely difficult to not let the actions of players -- whether they're known for diving or for being mouthy and disrespectful -- get on their nerves. Just like it would be impossible to not treat skaters differently.

Those who are respectful will get the benefit of the doubt over a player like Burrows. Burrows has to accept it because that will be the case his whole career. It may be even worse now, considering officials are like any other group: Go after one, and you're going after them all.

But you can't have referees exacting revenge with bogus calls, and one of the penalties Auger assessed on Burrows was questionable, at best.

Secondly, players have to cut out the junk. All kinds of people around the hockey world believe the calls going against Burrows are a case of the Canucks agitator reaping what he's sown over the years.

When a referee makes a call and then sees on the replay it was no penalty but a case of diving, they feel embarrassed and angry about it.

Players who are known for constantly yapping or flopping all over the ice make a mockery of the game and need to stop because the antics are getting out of control and difficult to stomach.

One last thing before anybody takes either side in the Burrows/Auger dispute.

Auger was the referee who charged Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan of making a slur against French-Canadians a couple of years ago -- charges which were never founded.

Can't help but wonder how Auger, if he's innocent, feels about having his name dragged through the mud.

Flaming C-notes

One step forward and one step back for Olli Jokinen. The Flames centre did a great job checking Sidney Crosby in Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to the Penguins but also took a penalty which led to the game-winning goal ... Now that Mark Giordano has been stepping up into the play and wisely creating offence, the club could use Jay Bouwmeester doing the same more often ... How can you tell the Flames have lost a couple of games? A steady stream of "trade so-and-so" e-mails and phone calls to the call-in shows ... That said, this club has to be looking for a winger who can add more offence. Wonder if Teemu Selanne would waive his no-trade status? If GM Darryl Sutter believes his squad is loaded with defencemen and defence prospects, he has to consider moving one for a player who can put the puck in the net.

Hockey talky

What's a bigger surprise: Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr has gone 139 games without scoring a goal or Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom went into last night's clash against Carolina on a 42-game drought? ... Can't help but wonder where Ilya Kovalchuk ends up. The team which could use him and his drawing power is the L.A. Kings. With the talent assembled there already, the soon-to-be-former Atlanta Thrasher would make that squad very much like the Chicago Blackhawks ... Even if he was being flippant, it wasn't in the best interest of Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault to refer to the person -- or people -- involved in using a laser pointer at Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff as "great fans". Had it happened the other way -- and worse yet Roberto Luongo been drilled in the throat by a puck because he was distracted -- Vigneault would have led the lynch mob. Lucky for him, Burrows opened his mouth and made that issue disappear ... The Colorado Avalanche, who sit atop the Northwest Division, have 22 of their final 35 regular-season games at home.

You don't say

"We knew this was going to come -- that teams were going to catch up to us. Right now, we're the team looking up and trying to catch those guys. We're in a little different situation, but I think the team has really responded."

-- Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom on the rivalry between his team and the Chicago Blackhawks.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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