The most disliked man in Tampa Bay
This is Bruce Boudreau, coach of the Washington Capitals. He's known for pretty much two things. One, his impressive use of profanity during the HBO series 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. The other is being behind the bench as his team chokes away Game 7s at home. Now he is known -- at least in these parts -- for taking shots a couple of Lightning players. Looking, perhaps, to plant a seed in the mind of the officials, Boudreau called Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Steve Downie divers. That is, they fake being hooked, held and tripped. For those who missed it, Boudreau said Monday:
"With Steve Downie, if I were a referee I would never give a call when he’s out on the ice. Stamkos, he dives every two seconds. Downie, he dives every two seconds, so you see that and you start to get a little hatred on.''
Here's the issue with this: It's one thing to try to fire up your team or get the referees second-guessing themselves or even saying something to get under the skin of an opposing player. But it's another to call out an honest player like Stamkos. For nearly three seasons now, Stamkos has played the game the right way. He works hard, he's humble, he has shown respect for the game on and off the ice. He doesn't deserve someone, especially someone who doesn't play and was not much of an NHLer when he did play, saying something so insulting.
Perhaps you subscribe to the theory that all is fair in love and war and the Southeast Division of the NHL, but calling someone a diver is serious business. Inside the hockey world, it's about as insulting as it gets. You're calling someone a cheater. You're questioning their manhood. You're questioning their integrity. Stamkos has played the game too well and with too much class to be on the receiving end of that kind of allegation. Perhaps Boudreau's little (obviously pre-planned) rant makes him a good coach in the mind of many. But it makes him a lousy person in the mind of many more.