I read a blog tonight that made a good point about how the NBA mis-handled the same situation with referee Joey Crawford. Same situation with Spurs star Tim Duncan. Crawford was suspended and Duncan fined. In San Antonio's first game after the incident, Duncan was ejected after getting a double-technical, and a brutal non-call in a playoff series against the Lakers cost them a game, which the NBA later apologized for.
Are the refs close with each other? Yes. If Auger is suspended over this, will there be resentment towards Burrows? Yes.
They have to tread carefully. I really haven't read a really good idea over what exactly to do with it in the short-term while the NHL investigates, but a lot of ideas for what not to do. Don't replay the game, don't award the Canucks a point, don't suspend Auger and don't fine or suspend Burrows. Those would just be counter-productive.
The real problem here is that Burrows is the hottest player in the NHL right now. He is the top-scoring winger on the line with the NHL's points leader, is first star of the week and a fan favourite in one of the biggest markets in the league. Knowing Vancouver's, er, history, and also knowing what happened when Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard (I know that Burrows is probably not as good as Richard, but we'll let that go for now) you can't do anything with him right now.
But you also can't let him get away with this and try and sweep it under the rug. You hit Auger, you hit the refs and the animosity increases. If you ignore it, and instruct an officiating pair to give the Canucks a game, that's unfair to the team they'd be playing. More importantly, this is a serious accusation and Burrows, the Canucks and their fans deserved to have it answered.
My temporary solution, based on being up at 3 am and running on one too many colas (Coke, not Pepsi) is the following:
-Immediately open an investigation on whether or not the allegations are true. Interview both coaches, Burrows, Auger, Dennis LaRue, Vaughan Rody and Brian Mach.
-Immediately open an investigation onto personal vendettas from referees on certain players. Get a team of crack researchers to crunch numbers and determine whether there's a trend, whether certain officials are more likely to call certain players or teams in certain situations, and review those calls made.
-Immediately suspend Stephane Auger with pay for all games in which he's scheduled to referee against the Vancouver Canucks.
-Send an NHL officials executive to monitor every game played by Stephane Auger and the Vancouver Canucks.
-Place Alex Burrows on probation, pending the results of the first investigation. Make sure he's on his absolute best behaviour. If he turns out to be in the wrong, fine him the amount for criticizing an official, but double it for the seriousness of the accusations. If he turns out to be in the right, fire Stephane Auger and charge him with fraud to prevent other vigilante referees.
This post was originally posted in one of the zillions of Auger threads in Canucks Talk, but because I hadn't seen a solution anywhere that didn't have major drawbacks, I felt obligated to suggest one.
Keep in mind it's 3 am. Comment how you will. I'd rather hear your disagreements. Bonus points will be given if you can write coherently.