No discipline for Auger, Burrows fined: Take 5

After separate hearings on Tuesday, the NHL has decided not to punish referee Stephane Auger, but fined Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows $2,500 US for his accusations that the on-ice official was out to get him in a Canucks-Predators game on Monday.

1. No discipline for Auger, but Burrows fined

After separate hearings on Tuesday, the NHL has decided not to punish referee Stephane Auger, but fined Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows $2,500 US for his accusations that the on-ice official was out to get him in a Canucks-Predators game on Monday.

Burrows claimed that Auger skated over to him before the anthems and told him that he was upset over an incident in Dec. 8 meeting between Vancouver and Nashville. Auger assessed Predators forward Jerred Smithson with a five-minute charging penalty and game misconduct after nailing Burrows.

The league later rescinded the major infraction and the misconduct after reviewing the game tape. According to Burrows, Auger blamed him for selling that he was more injured than he was letting on. Auger and Burrows were caught on video engaged in an on-ice discussion prior to Monday's game.

Then Auger called Burrows for marginal diving and interference penalties in the third period of Monday's game. The latter infraction led to Shea Weber's decisive goal in the Predators' 3-2 win.

The most the league could fine Burrows under the current collective bargaining agreement is $2,500 and he could not be suspended for calling out Auger, unless commissioner Gary Bettman invoked NHL bylaw 17, which he can suspend players for actions that he believes detrimental to the game. See Sean Avery's remarks about Dion Phaneuf last season or Mark Bell after he pleaded no contest to drunk driving and hit-and-run charges stemming from an incident on Sept. 1, 2006 in the San Jose area.

Burrows could decide to grieve the league's decision to fine him, but then he would risk being a target of on-ice officials for the rest of his career. 

Auger is slated to work the Penguins-Flames game in Calgary on Wednesday.

2. Pittsburgh producer suspended

Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh indefinitely suspended 45-year-old producer Lowell MacDonald Jr. for withholding a video replay of a short-handed goal scored by Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne.

The disputed play occurred late in the second period of the Flyers' 7-4 win against the Penguins last Thursday. The replay in question showed that Gagne had indeed scored, but the Pittsburgh broadcast aired the replay only after play resumed. So it was too late for replay judges in Pittsburgh or Toronto to overturn the call on the ice.

"There is nothing more important than the integrity of the game. During last Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a definitive replay of a Flyers goal was not aired prior to the conclusion of the official review and, as a result, a Flyers goal was not awarded.

"Fortunately, this did not change the outcome of the game. Nonetheless, FSN Pittsburgh's failure to provide video to the league officials in a timely fashion was wholly unacceptable," FSN Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Lowell is the son of former Penguins forward Lowell MacDonald Sr.

3. Booth returns to practice

Injured Florida Panthers forward David Booth participated in his first practice on Tuesday since he suffered a concussion on the blindside hit from Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Oct. 24.

Booth skated with his teammates for the first 20 minutes of practice, but he did not participate in any contact drills.

"Mentally for him, it's a step," Florida coach Pete DeBoer told the South Florida Sun-Sentinal. "I know he's excited about being back out there. He said it feels great to be back in a real practice for the first time in a long time. It's a small step. He's still a while away from playing." 

4. Horrible evening for sliding Canadian teams on Tuesday

The Senators lost their fifth straight. The Leafs have slipped further with four losses in a row. The Oilers are a dreadful 1-11-1 in their past 13 games. These days, times are not good in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.

The Senators have dropped to eighth in the East, clinging to the final playoff spot in a three-way tie with the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders. The Maple Leafs are 28th in the overall standings and the Oilers are 29th. 

5. Senators visit Central Park

The Senators will try to shake off their funk with a practice in New York's Central Park on Wednesday.

They will keep their pads and sticks in the equipment bag and go through the paces of a light workout in preparation for their game against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The Senators have been outscored 22-5 in their five-game losing streak.