NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell is standing by the work and integrity of the league's officials, but he told Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean on Saturday that referee Stephane Auger erred when he approached Vancouver forward Alex Burrows during the pre-game skate of the Jan. 11 game between the Canucks and Predators.
Campbell was speaking to MacLean during the final portion of Scotiabank Hockey Tonight.
Auger told Burrows that he was embarrassed by the forward's antics in a game he officiated on Dec. 8 between the same teams.
In that contest, Auger gave Nashville's Jerred Smithson a five-minute major and a game misconduct after Smithson hit Burrows into the boards, appearing to injure him. But Burrows wasn't hurt — he didn't miss a shift — and the NHL decided to rescind the misconduct after further review.
Campbell told MacLean that it's not necessarily a bad practice for officials to talk to players before the game, but in this instance, it was the wrong move.
"We don't think it was the wisest call at that time when you look at the situation," Campbell said.
But Campbell doesn't believe Auger said anything inappropriate to Burrows by making reference to the embellishment of a previous call.
Burrows was also wrong to publicly question the officials' integrity in his post-game tirade, Campbell said, which is why he received a $2,500 US fine.
Campbell said there was no reason to schedule a different referee for the Jan. 11 game, despite the history between Auger and Burrows.
The NHL only begins to pick and choose its officials when it comes to playoff time and the final stretch run, Campbell said.
As for rescinding misconducts and overturning a referee's call after the game, Campbell said it's a touchy subject — one that is typically deferred to the NHL's director of officiating, former referee Terry Gregson.
"That's why Terry does it. [He] talks the referee talk. We add our hockey thoughts to it, and say, 'Terry you make the call.' You gotta deal with the referees on this play."