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War of words goes on between Tampa Bay Lightning's Nate Thompson, Atlanta Thrashers' Eric Boulton over knee-to-knee hit

Atlanta’s Eric Boulton says his knee-to-knee hit on Nate Thompson wasn’t intentional, despite what the center thinks.

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Atlanta’s Eric Boulton says his knee-to-knee hit on Nate Thompson wasn’t intentional, despite what the center thinks.

TAMPA — Lightning C Nate Thompson and Thrashers LW Eric Boulton engaged in a little back-and-forth last week about Boulton's knee-to-knee hit on Thompson late in the third period Wednesday of Tampa Bay's 2-1 shootout victory.

Thompson, who sustained a hyperextended left knee though he played Saturday against the Sabres, said Boulton did it on purpose. Boulton, who was not penalized, denied it, then pretty much challenged Thompson to do something about it.

"It was awful," Thompson said of the hit. "I mean, I'm by the guy. You can see on the replay he purposefully puts his knee out and barely misses, and elbow, too."

"Who's Nate Thompson?" Boulton deadpanned to Atlanta reporters, but then said, "One hundred percent unintentional; he comes out in the paper and blasts me. I'll do my talking on the ice. If he wants to start something he can't finish, then he can go ahead and do that."

Boulton in October 2005 elbowed Lightning D Paul Ranger, gave him a concussion and was suspended for six games. Then-coach John Tortorella said Boulton should be playing in the ECHL. Boulton called Ranger and apologized. It doesn't seem as if he will extend Thompson the same courtesy.

"I'm not really too surprised," Thompson said of the hit. "Eric Boulton, not the best player in the world. He's got to compensate for sticking his knee out when I'm by him with 10 seconds left in the (third period)."

Tampa Bay is at Atlanta on Dec. 26.

FEHR FACTOR: C Dominic Moore, Tampa Bay's players association rep, said the union made a "good choice" hiring Donald Fehr as executive director. (Story, 7C)

"We've all been very impressed with the help he's given us, and his record speaks for itself," said Moore, who worked with Fehr as the union rewrote its constitution. "He's not a hockey guy, but there are other qualities that make him a good choice."

Fehr, 62, led the baseball players union from 1983 to 2009 and is best known for the 1994-95 strike that doomed the '94 World Series.

The NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires in September 2012. Asked if he believed a lockout was more likely with Fehr on the job, Moore said: "His reputation is that he doesn't mess around, but I don't think anybody wants to see that happen. Just in regards to the constitution he's been very thorough. He's a bright guy, and he just gets it. … Hopefully he's just as good with his new task."

WORLD JUNIORS: Prospects Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly, first-round draft picks in 2009 and 2010, respectively, will play for Canada in the world junior championship that begins Dec. 26 in Buffalo, N.Y.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Vinny Lecavalier was stopped by Sabres G Ryan Miller on a penalty shot with 5:45 left in the game. "I wish maybe I would have gone to the backhand, but it's easy to say after the fact." … F Mattias Ritola has not had an attack of Meniere's disease since he went on a new medication last week, he said. … D Victor Hedman turned 20 Saturday. … Ritola and RW Steve Downie (ankle) were scratched.

War of words goes on between Tampa Bay Lightning's Nate Thompson, Atlanta Thrashers' Eric Boulton over knee-to-knee hit 12/18/10 [Last modified: Sunday, December 19, 2010 12:19am]

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