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Gamesmanship or bulletin board material? Bruce Boudreau calls Steve Stamkos a diver

It’s a fine line a coach draws when they speak to the media about the actions of opposing players. For Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, he tossed all regard for that line out the window today when speaking about the Caps opponents tonight, their rivals in the Southeast Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boudreau addressed reporters today and had a few choice words for Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos as well as agitator extraordinaire Steve Downie. Erik Erlendsson of Tampa Bay Online gets word from Boudreau that he thinks there’s a bit more embellishment going on in each of their games.

When asked about the rivalry that has built up between the teams this season, Boudreau accused Tampa Bay’s players – specifically naming two – of embellishing calls in an attempt to earn penalty calls.

“With Steve Downie, if I were a referee I would never give a call when he’s out on the ice,” Boudreau said. “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.”

Is it gamesmanship from Boudreau or is it prime bulletin board material for the Lightning? It’s both.

Boudreau obviously wants to see a few more calls go his team’s way but lighting a fire under the Lightning and specifically Stamkos might not be the greatest idea. Stamkos has been without a goal in five straight games and without a point in his last four. That kind of lull doesn’t stay that way for a long time when you’re one of the premiere forwards in the NHL and getting a player like that even more focused is dangerous to do.

Unfortunately for Boudreau, Downie won’t be playing tonight as he’s out with an injury which puts the focus squarely on Stamkos for what he said. As for Lightning coach Guy Boucher, the way he sees things with Boudreau is pretty obvious to him. More from Erlendsson:

“I’m not going to try to get an edge off ice, I’m not going to try to do that, I’m going to let the guys play and I believe that our players and their players, they fight with everything they’ve got. I have more respect for the players than just to say their players or our players dive or whatever,” Boucher said.

That’s as artful of a parry as you’ll see when it comes to a war of words between coaches and Boucher keeping a stiff upper lip on this one reflects better upon him. Stamkos isn’t exactly regarded through the eyes of fans and observers as a diver so Boudreau’s accusation seems to come out of nowhere. It’s also a bit curious that Boudreau would call him out when he’s got Alexander Semin on his roster, a guy who’s been known to take a poetic fall or two in his career.

The real upside to all this verbal jousting is that perhaps, finally, we’ve got ourselves a tried and true rivalry in the Southeast Division. With the Capitals and Lightning set to battle the rest of the way for the division title, adding some heat to their games is a great thing to see. Of course, if the Caps can figure out a way to score on Dwayne Roloson they’ll have a bit more to work with against the Lightning apart from snarky words from their head coach.

Report: Coyotes’ Rieder is considering KHL, among other options

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
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Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder has a big decision to make. The 23-year-old restricted free agent has been embroiled in contentious contract negotiations for much of the offseason, and now he’s reportedly considering his options.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, those options include taking the Coyotes offer, requesting a trade, signing in the KHL, or sitting out.

Rieder had 14 goals and 23 assists in 82 games last season for Arizona. Born in Germany, he’s currently representing Team Europe in the World Cup final against Canada.

Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, has said his client won’t attend Coyotes training camp after the World Cup is over — unless, of course, a deal is struck.

“We’ve made them a fair offer at two years at $2.5 million a year, and they’re unwilling to do it,” Ferris recently told the Arizona Republic.

The Coyotes have reportedly offered between $2 million and $2.3 million per season on a two-year deal, so it’s not exactly a huge gulf between the two sides.

Of course, it wasn’t a huge gulf between Vladimir Sobotka and the St. Louis Blues, and look what happened there.

Shaw (boarding) to have hearing after getting tossed in Habs debut

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 02:  Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks speaks during Media Day for the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 2, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Didn’t take long for Andrew Shaw to do Andrew Shaw things in Montreal.

The noted agitator, acquired from Chicago at the draft, will have the NHL’s first disciplinary hearing of the season on Thursday — today, the Department of Player Safety announced that Shaw will be called to the carpet after getting tossed for boarding Washington’s Connor Hobbs last night.

Shaw was quickly challenged by Caps forward Nathan Walker following the hit, and the two squared off. Shaw was then given a five-minute boarding major, a major for fighting, a misconduct and a game misconduct.

All told, 30 PIM.

This won’t be Shaw’s first visit with the DoPS. Far from it. He was suspended for making a homophobic slur during an opening-round playoff loss to St. Louis in the spring and, prior to that:

— Avoided suspension for a high hit on Francois Beauchemin.

— Allegedly bit Victor Hedman during the ’15 Stanley Cup Final.

— Was fined $2,000 for diving.

— Avoided suspension for charging Barret Jackman.

— Avoided suspension for headbutting Brock Nelson.

And those are just the infractions since 2015.

Report: Players still undecided on how to split World Cup profits

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. Joining him from left to right is Ruslan Fedotenko, Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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You’d think the NHLPA would’ve already decided how to split its share of World Cup profits among its membership.

But according to a report by TSN’s Rick Westhead, you’d be wrong:

While the accounting on the World Cup probably won’t be finished for several months – meaning the NHLPA doesn’t yet know exactly how much money there will be to split between its members – NHLPA staff and players discussed the concept of 50 per cent of the union’s share of profits being split between players in the World Cup, with the other 50 per cent being split by NHL players not in the event.

During a meeting with NHLPA divisional player representative Joe Reekie, some players on Team Russia said all World Cup profits should remain with players who are playing in the event, a source told TSN. Some players on Team Czech Republic suggested in a separate meeting that an 80/20 split (favoring players in the World Cup) should be considered, the source said.

Profits for the tournament have been pegged at around $65 million, split 50-50 between the league and the players’ association. So assuming those projections are correct, that’s around $32.5 million for the NHLPA to divvy up. Not a huge amount on a per-player basis, especially considering what the average player makes all by himself. But chances are, this is not going to be the only World Cup, so it could set a precedent for future events.

Kesler was ‘really disappointed’ with World Cup atmosphere

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 16:  Ryan Kesler #17 of Team USA skates with the puck during practice at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 16, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Check it out — a Team USA player talking about disappointment at the World Cup, yet not referencing his team’s lackluster effort!

“It was weird,” American forward Ryan Kesler said of the tournament’s atmosphere, per the O.C. Register. “I thought there’d be more of a buzz in Toronto. There wasn’t … It just didn’t seem like there was a buzz.

“If you didn’t know what was going on, you wouldn’t even know teams were playing. That’s the only thing I was really disappointed with.”

The World Cup reboot was always going to have issues in this regard.

The timing of the tournament — early September, when the sports landscape is dominated by NCAA football and the NFL — almost guaranteed it would be buried. That early September start also meant even the most hardcore hockey fans still viewed the World Cup as something of an exhibition, or glorified training camp.

Creating Team North America and Team Europe initially added an extra element of hokiness. While both eventually proved worthy competitors, that didn’t happen until the tournament was underway.

And yeah, Team Europe has been a remarkable story.

But it hasn’t helped the buzz factor.

In Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Canada in the first of the best-of-three final, Europe didn’t exactly bring in the fans. Several pundits tweeted out the alarming number of empty seats at the Air Canada Centre (see here and here), and Canadian forward Steve Stamkos addressed how the rivalry — or lack thereof — with Europe translated into a muted affair.

“It’s tough just because there’s not that natural rivalry here,” Stamkos explained, per Yahoo. “In some of the other games, we had away fans that were creating some noise.

“This was probably the team that had the least amount of support, just because of the makeup of the team in the tournament to start with.”

Attendance issues have been a theme throughout the event. Several group games started at 3 p.m. ET — on weekdays, no less — which resulted in subpar crowd numbers at the ACC. The highly-anticipated USA-Canada grudge match never came to fruition, with the Americans sputtering out as one of the tournament’s biggest disappointments.

North America’s elimination didn’t help the buzz factor, either.

In the end, all of this will probably be chalked up to a learning experience for the NHL and NHLPA, which is fair. This tournament was filled with several major unknowns coming in, and predicting how those would play out was a near impossible task.

Now, both sides know what worked and what didn’t. And they’ve got plenty of time to make some changes.