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By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 18, 2005

WILD QUOTE: Wild coach Jacques Lemaire finally lost it last week.

In five losses over the past month, the Wild gave up the winning or tying goal in the final four minutes of regulation. After a ton of fluky goals-against during this rough season, Lemaire had a meltdown after the host Wild lost to the Bruins 3-2 Thursday night.

In that game, it appeared Boston scored the winner when Sergei Samsonov punched in the puck with his glove. According to Wild goalie Manny Fernandez, referee Mike Leggo said he believed Samsonov punched in the puck, but ruled it a goal and decided that he would let the review booth overturn it. Problem was, the men in the booth couldn't find conclusive evidence to overrule the call.

That's when Lemaire went nuts about the off-ice crew, which, officially, works for the league, but are local officials.

"The crew upstairs, I've been here for five years, it's got to be the worst crew I've seen in my entire career," Lemaire said. "They've been told by the NHL they're the best. I know why they tell them that. Because wherever you go, they cheat on seconds before (stopping the clock) when the team is losing so the home team gets more seconds. We live through this all the time. Here it's the opposite."

There's more.

"These guys, if they can't see the replay that the guy pushed it with his hand, well, they need glasses," Lemaire said. "It's so obvious on the replay there, you don't need 20 years of hockey for that. A kid can notice that. But then, upstairs, I don't know what the hell is going on."

GETTING WILDER: Here's what Wild and former Lightning forward Alexandre Daigle said after all the bad calls and goofy bounces that have gone against Minnesota this season:


DEAR ED: After beating Florida recently, Toronto goalie Ed Belfour received a telegram of congratulations from Hall of Fame goalie and former Lightning executive Tony Esposito, Belfour's long-time idol.

"I'm a fan of Eddie Belfour," Esposito told "I met him in Chicago and I've met with him several times over the years. He's the reason Toronto has so many points this season."

Belfour's worship of Esposito goes way back.

"When I was in the third grade," Belfour told the Toronto Sun, "I drew two large posters of Tony Esposito and did a report on him. I entered it in the Carman, Manitoba Fair, where I grew up. It won first prize, which was $5 at the time. I always had a real fascination about Tony Esposito and goaltending. He was always my favorite."

[Last modified December 18, 2005, 01:02:23]


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