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Hear why Bruce Boudreau once toilet-papered an NHL ref’s house originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau once went with the oldest prank in the book when wronged by an NHL referee and neighbor: He toilet-papered his house.
The go-to move for rowdy teenagers everywhere, Boudreau chose that method to extract a little revenge on former NHL referee Paul Devorski after a bad call in a Stanley Cup playoff game ended Washington's season.
Devorski and Boudreau "are next-door neighbors, and he was refereeing Game 7 in my first year against Philadelphia, and he calls a penalty and we lose the game in double-overtime. It was a horrible call,” Boudreau said on a recent episode of Sportsnet’s ‘Good Show.’
The loss actually came in the first overtime period, not the second, but who's counting?
“So I go home four days later, and I teepee his house, like from top to bottom," Boudreau said. "He comes up the next day and he’s looking around, he can’t find anybody.”
During the 2007-08 NHL season, Washington was just coming into its own in the Alex Ovechkin era after years of struggling. The Caps went on a tear to end the regular-season, clinching the Southeast Division title and a playoff spot on the final day, and entered the playoffs as No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The first-round series against Philadelphia was a classic. The Caps fell behind 3-1 but rallied to take it to Game 7 at home. The Flyers got the clincher in overtime in large part thanks to a penalty given by Devorski.
Four minutes into the overtime period, Washington defenseman Tom Poti got tangled up with Flyers center R.J. Umberger. At least that's how Boudreau still sees it. Devorski saw it differently. He made a late tripping call on the play and Philadelphia won the game and the series on the subsequent power play thanks to a point-blank shot by winger Joffrey Lupul. Take a look (the penalty comes at the 4:50 mark):
Capitals fans might want to look away. Boudreau sure did. He didn’t forget the controversial call Devorski made and that summer took his revenge.
Who among us hasn't found themselves with a roll of toilet paper and a grudge after they’ve been shortchanged? But Boudreau did the right thing and later apologized.
“Two days later, I go knock on the door to apologize, I feel it’s time now. He was the only guy with a pool in the neighborhood, so I had to apologize to him,” Boudreau said with a big laugh. “He was just glad I didn’t egg his house, I only TP'd it. I was actually hoping it was gonna rain and it would stick to the windows.”
It would take 10 more years for the Capitals to finally hoist a Stanley Cup after the infamous call, but Boudreau was long gone by then with successful stops in Anaheim and Minnesota. Still, he looks back lovingly on the TP incident. He and Devorski even talked about it down the line.
“Here’s the kicker: next year, our first preseason game was against Carolina, and Paul was refereeing it. And I said, ‘Have you seen that call from last year?’ And he said, ‘No, I haven’t even looked at it.’ And I said, ‘You get in here right now and you look at this thing, okay?’” Boudreau said. “We looked at it on the computer together and he goes, ‘Oh my god, did I do that?’ And I said, ‘It’s okay, I’ve gotten my vindication now, you realize you were wrong on this call.’”
Boudreau, in reality, has great respect for Devorski’s long NHL career, which lasted 26 years.
“He was one of the good ones when you talk about referees," Boudreau said. "He would come out after a period and there was a questionable call in the period before, and he says ‘Did you look at that call? Did I make the right call?’ And nine times out of 10, he did…Paul was one of the best communicators as a referee you could ever meet."