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NHL fines Canucks' Alex Burrows for comments about referee to media

Vancouver Canucks Alex Burrows celebrates his first period goal against the Nashville Predators in NHL hockey action at GM Place in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, Jan. 11, 2010.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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Vancouver Canucks Alex Burrows celebrates his first period goal against the Nashville Predators in NHL hockey action at GM Place in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, Jan. 11, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

TORONTO - National Hockey League disciplinarian Colin Campbell has officially slapped Alex Burrows with US$2,500 fine while disputing the Canuck winger's claim referee Stephane Auger targeted him with penalties.

"We have determined that Mr. Burrows' account of referee Auger's comments to him before the game, and specifically Burrows' suggestion that these comments indicated bias against the player or the Vancouver team, cannot be substantiated," said Campbell in a statement Wednesday.

Burrows's said Monday that Auger told him during the pre-game warmup he was going to "get me back" for an incident during Vancouver's Dec. 8 game against Nashville. Predators forward Jerred Smithson received a major and game misconduct penalty for charging Burrows in that game, but the call was later overturned by the league because it said Burrows took a dive.

"While referee Auger engaged the player in a brief conversation prior to the opening face-off, I firmly believe that nothing inappropriate was said and that Referee Auger's intentions were beyond reproach," added Campbell.

During the third period of Vancouver's 3-2 loss to Nashville on Monday night, Auger assessed Burrows minor penalties for diving, interference and unsportsmanlike conduct.

After the game, Burrows told the media: "It was personal. It started in warmup before the anthem. The ref (Auger) came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the (Jerred) Smithson hit (during a game Dec. 8). He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third ..."

Burrows said his teammates "are battling hard for 60 minutes to win a hockey game because every two points are so huge, so important, and because of a guy's ego it just blows everything out of proportion and they're making bad calls and the fans are paying for it and we're paying for it.

"I think he (Auger) should sit out the rest of the year making calls like that."

The NHL said Burrow's comments were detrimental to the league and the game.

"The National Hockey League will not tolerate the personal nature of the comments Mr. Burrows directed at referee Auger or the fact that he brought into question the integrity of both the official and the game," said Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice-president of hockey operations.

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