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By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003

Thank you for your support

Apparently it is not enough for Canadiens fans to boo their team, which went into the tank and likely will miss the playoffs. Before Thursday's game against the Islanders, fans at the Bell Centre booed the Star Spangled Banner, presumably to protest the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The Islanders, who have five American-born players, three American coaches and an American general manager, were not happy about it.

"I want to know how many of those people came down to ground zero and saw what happened," right wing Mark Parrish said.

"The people who are booing, honestly, aren't even a blip on our radar," goalie Garth Snow said. "Americans don't really care about those people."

Canadiens president Pierre Boivin issued a statement in which he said he felt "deep regret."

Montreal fans also booed the anthem before Tuesday's game against the Devils.

But Saturday the story took another turn. Canadiens fans cheered during the final verse of the U.S. national anthem after a video address by Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau, who recorded statements in French and English at the team's behest. Also Saturday night, fans in Toronto cheered during the anthem before the Maple Leafs played Buffalo.

Did you know?

According to the NHL, playing the national anthem at hockey games began in 1946 to honor soldiers returning from World War II. It wasn't until 1987 that the league mandated both the U.S. and Canadian anthems be played at games in which teams from both countries participated.

Five questions with Blues defenseman Al MacInnis:

Q: Should you be a Norris Trophy candidate as the league's best defenseman?

A: You can build a case for a lot of defensemen. Where that goes after that, it is up to the voters. It's been a pretty consistent year for me. That's about the extent I'm going to say about my year.

Q: Should there be an award just for defensive defensemen?

A: I definitely think so. But I don't think players of that caliber go unrecognized. Scott Stevens has been recognized as a finalist. But it's something the league might want to look into.

Q: Did you expect, at age 39, to average 27 minutes?

A: The coaching staff has given me a lot of days off since Christmas. After every game, I usually don't practice. I spend it in the gym doing a little maintenance. But recovery is the most important thing.

Q: Is home ice still an advantage in the playoffs?

A: It's less of a factor now with all the new buildings. But if you had a choice, if it came down to a Game 7, you'd rather play at home.

Q: Talk about old school. You won the hardest-shot contest with a wooden stick.

A: Yeah, parents will be happy they don't have to buy those expensive sticks.

Quick on the draw; Times are hard

Bill Davidson, who owns Palace Sports&Entertainment, which owns the Lightning, is $100-million poorer, according to Forbes. He is now worth a mere $1.8-billion and is only the 222nd richest person in the United States.

Around the league

MacInnis, 40 in July, could be the oldest player to win the Norris Trophy. The Rangers' Doug Harvey was 38 when he was named in 1962. ... Last week's western snowstorm postponed Wednesday's Sharks game at Colorado. That forced San Jose to play Thursday against the Avs, Friday against the Bruins and Saturday against the Mighty Ducks to become the first team since the Nordiques in February 1980 to play three consecutive days. ... Rangers coach Glen Sather sent a video to the league showing what he said were illegal pads used by the Islanders' Snow. "It's Snow. He cheats. He's cheated his whole career," Sather said. The league sent Snow a warning. "Sounds like someone crying like a baby," Snow said.


"If you're going to say that, you've got to say we had an incredible run of good luck last year, and there are already enough people running around saying that's what our playoff run was all about."

-- Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice when asked if bad luck caused his team's troubles.

-- Compiled by Times staff writer Damian Cristodero using personal interviews and information from other news organizations.

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