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HALIFAX (CP) - A "well-loved" volunteer crew member swept off a Nova Scotia tall ship sailing the Atlantic is the daughter of Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey, the hockey club said Sunday.

Laura Gainey, 25, was washed off a deck at the back of the vessel by a huge wave at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

A search has been underway since then, with U.S. coast guard vessels, several aircraft and the Picton Castle barque participating in the attempts to find Gainey in seas 700 kilometres east-southeast of Cape Cod.

Dan Moreland, the senior captain of the Picton Castle, says Laura Gainey is an enthusiastic volunteer on the vessel and is known to be very fit, and is a good swimmer.

Related Info
Gainey hands GM duties to Gauthier
However, U.S. coast guard spokeswoman Faith Wisinski says that as of noon, Gainey has been in the water 33 hours without a life-jacket.





She says the water is warm in the area, but it's expected hypothermia would normally take a person's life after 36 hours.

Moreland described the situation as "completely devastating for everybody" on the vessel.

He said hundreds of former crew members of the tall ship, which undertakes voyages around the world, have been contacting the Lunenburg, N.S., headquarters to express concern.

"It could happen to any ship, to any captain, and from my point of view, it's the captain's greatest fear," he said, from the headquarters.

Gainey first joined the ship as a trainee in Cape Town in the last three months of the ship's world voyage.

"She is hardworking, someone who wanted to turn her life around. She was passionate about sailing, loves it and worked very hard," he said.

"She was no slouch."

In a news release issued issued by the Montreal Canadiens, the club said "the thoughts and prayers of the entire Montreal Canadiens organization are with Mr. Gainey and his family."

Gainey is currently awaiting news on the search with his three other children Anna, Colleen and Steve.

The club said that Piere Gauthier, assistant general manager, will manage the responsibilities of Gainey, who is the executive vice-president and general manager of the club.
 

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Search continues for Gainey's daughter


Canadian Press
12/11/2006 11:13:52 AM

HALIFAX (CP) - A Canadian C-130 Hercules has joined the search for Laura Gainey, daughter of hockey legend and Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey.

The search aircraft relieved an American plane that had been scouring the ocean.

Matthew Brooks, a civilian search and rescue specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard, said there was still no sign of the 25-year-old woman.

Gainey was aboard the barque Picton Castle, a tall ship used as a training vessel, when she was washed overboard Friday by a rogue wave about 700 kilometres off Cape Cod, Mass.

The crew dropped radar deflectors and lighted buoys in the water when they realized one of their colleagues was missing.

Brooks said U.S. aircrew used infrared night-vision goggles to search the dark waters late Sunday.

American and Canadian search aircraft later dropped self-locating data buoys in the area.

"They talk to us via satellite, and they send us positions on the hour," said Brooks. "This is the best way to tell us how the water is moving."

With the weather improving Monday, two merchant vessels and the sailing ship remained in the area and a Hercules from North Carolina was expected to join the search this afternoon.

Laura Gainey climbed aboard the square-rigged, three-masted ship last spring in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Gaineys no strangers to glory - and grief


Wave sweeps Laura, 25, into Atlantic
RED FISHER, The Gazette
Published: Monday, December 11, 2006


Only the mothers and fathers among us can even begin to imagine the horror, the torture, the grief that Bob Gainey is going through now. Parents aren't supposed to lose a child. There is no pain greater than this, and nobody, not Gainey, not anyone, should be confronted with it.

The story of a 25-year-old Canadian woman being washed over the side of a Lunenburg, N.S.-based tall ship by a rogue wave around 9:30 on Friday night appeared on this newspaper's Page A6 yesterday. Important stories normally are carried closer to the front page. The woman was not identified, so the story was scanned and the page turned. It didn't involve anyone you know.

Yesterday, it involved someone everybody knows when the Canadiens confirmed that Gainey's daughter Laura had been identified as the missing woman. The report left me breathless. How could this happen? Why?

I have known and been close to Gainey for more than three decades. I still remember the day he joined the Canadiens family.

"Who did the Canadiens take in the draft?" I asked a colleague at the Montreal Star on this June afternoon in 1973.

"A kid named Gainey ... Bob Gainey."

"Who?"

"They say he was a pretty good defensive player with the Peterborough juniors."

"Never heard of him," I said.

"I guess (Canadiens GM Sam) Pollock did," was the reply.

Pollock's strength as a GM was that he always put his personal stamp on draft choices. Pick the right player and he could be a franchise leader. Choose the wrong one, and it could set back a team for several years. Pollock would listen to his scouts, but the buck and the puck always stopped with him.

Reaching out for Gainey largely because of his defensive credentials might have been the best decision Pollock made in his years with a team that always has relied heavily on offence. His selection was a surprise to everyone - but Sam knew.

Pollock was in Halifax to watch his first-round choice in the exhibition season's first game. The Boston Bruins were the opposition. The Canadiens were the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Bruins had won in 1971-72, but were still very much the Big Bad Bruins.

Bobby Orr was on the ice to start the game. So was Peterborough alumnus Gainey. Orr jumped on a loose puck in his zone and then, in the classic Orr skating style, slipped beyond one man and then another. On the opposite side of the ice, rookie Gainey gathered his legs beneath him, picked up speed with each stride and crashed into hockey's best player.

Orr went down in a heap, blinking into the lights as Gainey skated away. In his seat, no more than 20 feet away from the collision of the rookie and the legend, Pollock smiled thinly.

Sam knew.

Nobody ever has been more right about a player. Gainey's first NHL bodycheck was an omen of things to come in his 16-season career, eight as team captain. He made defence and punishing bodychecks fashionable among NHL forwards. He controlled games. He was as much of a winner and a game-breaker as any of his contemporaries who enjoyed 50-goal seasons.

No defensive forward in the league came within a rink-length of him when he was a runaway winner of the first four Selke trophies. He was simply the very best at what he did.

"You watched the way Gainey worked," Larry Robinson once told me, "and you had to go out there and try to work the way he did. There was no other way," he said.

In his years in hockey, glory has not been a stranger in the Gainey household. Neither has grief.

Now this.

I have never met Laura Gainey, but I know a lot about her, starting with a call her father received about 16 years ago.

It was after a pre-game skate, and the youngest of his three daughters was on the line. Colleen, who was only 5 at the time, was crying. She had been kept home from school because she wasn't feeling well.

"We'll have a nice nap together," Bob's wife, Cathy, had promised her daughter. "You'll feel lots better. I'll be with you in a minute."

Seconds later, Colleen heard a crash, and when the child rushed toward the noise, she found her mother unconscious on the bathroom floor.

Now, a terrified Colleen wailed over the telephone: "Daddy! Daddy! Mommy is on the floor in the bathroom. She's not moving ... she's on the floor. What do I do, Daddy?"

The news was as bad as it gets: a brain tumour. Malignant. Cathy's only slim hope for survival was massive surgery, followed by five weeks of radiation, five days a week.

Five years later, after more major surgery, after too many weeks of chemotherapy and discomfort and tears, Cathy Gainey was taken away from her family. She was only 39.

The depression that preceded and followed her mother's death put Colleen into a clinic for a month. Laura, who was 14, plummeted into the ugly, mind-bending culture of hash, marijuana, acid and speed. She was only a teenager, but in its own clawing, gnawing way, in her mind these terrible drugs were the only way out.

"What she was doing was burying feelings of anger and depression," Gainey told me in a gripping, one-on-one interview on one of his visits from Dallas. "Anger over her mother's illness. Isolation. Abandonment. The kids, I think, take something like what happened to Cathy ... as being deserted. They know on a conscious level that their mother didn't ... wouldn't desert them, that the last thing in the world she'd want to do is leave them.

"Laura bottled up some of the emotions. Others, she acted out in the wrong way. She started to cover the pain by dropping out on drugs for a few hours at a time, and that slowly increased until it was almost constant."

There was denial, Bob told me. He would bring up the subject, and then there would be more denial.

More anger. More drugs.

Laura, the teenager, eventually won the fight of her young life. She was a volunteer on the Picton Castle, whose captain described her as a "a well-loved crew member, very dedicated, very hard-working and very passionate about being on the ship."

Gainey is strong. He is brave. He played through more pain, I think, than any athlete I have ever known. How, though, does he get through this? How does any parent?

He is a private person who picks his friends carefully and always has made it a point to do the same with words when he's not completely comfortable with people he doesn't know well. But few people I know have a better way with words when the occasion demands it.

One such occasion came in the form of a letter he wrote to me while he was still with the Dallas Stars. A mutual friend, a noted agent in Boston named Bob Woolf, had died suddenly. Gainey happened upon the column I had written about our friend's death.

"Every now and again, something reminds me that this letter is in my head and really should be written," Gainey wrote. "My working relationship with Bob lasted four to five years, but my friendship with him was ongoing until his death. The things I learned from him will last my lifetime. I may have told you in the past of how I met him and how our relationship and friendship progressed," he added. "What is more important were the things I learned from him. Honesty, integrity, humility.

"So, with his passing, I felt a disappointment in not having expressed these feelings to him during one of my visits to his office in Boston," Gainey wrote.

His handwritten letter continued: "You are another person who has had an effect on my life. And rather than write this letter to your wife or children 'someday' - as I did with Anne Woolf - I decided to write it to you.

"This is where this letter becomes more difficult to write.

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Search winds down for Gainey's daughter

Canadian Press
12/11/2006 11:16:07 AM


LUNENBURG, N.S. (CP) - As hope faded Monday that Laura Gainey would be found alive in the Atlantic, her family, fellow crew members and a town with deep seafaring roots reflected on a young woman who loved her new life aboard a three-masted tall ship.

Petty Officer Larry Chambers, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard station in Portsmouth, Va., said the search for the daughter of Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Bob Gainey was slowly winding down three days after a rogue wave swept her off the Picton Castle.

''The search can't go on indefinitely,'' said Chambers.

''It's one of the toughest decisions a coast guard search and rescue co-ordinator has to make, but there comes a time where the reasonable search is over with.''

In the small town of Lunenburg, where two black pillars on the waterfront serve as a stark memorial to those lost at sea, postal carrier Nancy Rogers stood before the ship's home office and tried to sum up the sadness of the community.

''I didn't have to know her, but she was a sailor. They all have the same heart. They go to sea, knowing that's what they want to be doing.''

Less than two weeks ago, the ship set sail from the port for a six-month tour that would take it to the Caribbean.

Gainey was a member of the crew, a leading seaman with responsibility for certain watches and instruction of volunteer trainees.

On Tuesday, the ship's despondent senior captain emerged to read a statement on behalf of the crew.

''They are tired and, like us, they are devastated,'' said Daniel Moreland, who was in the tall ship's home port of Lunenburg when Gainey was reported missing.

''But they soldier on. They have a job to do. So do we.''

Gainey, 25, was standing in a protected area of the ship on Friday when the vessel took ''an exceptionally large wave.''

''(The ship) was able to shake it off without difficulty but Laura . . . was swept over the side.''

When her crewmates realized she was missing, the dropped radar deflectors and lighted buoys in the water.

She wasn't wearing a life-jacket, but the temperature of that area of the mid-Atlantic - about 700 kilometres off Cape Cod - was hovering around 20 C.

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said Gainey, a strong swimmer, could probably survive for about 36 hours.

However, Chambers said after 70 hours in the water ''the likelihood of survivability'' would ''diminish rapidly.''

The ship is mainly used to provide adventurous holidays for anyone over the age of 18.

Those who sign up for the six-month apprenticeship program learn to become qualified square-rigged seafarers.

A two week trip costs about $2,100. The current six-month voyage from Lunenburg to the Caribbean, which started Nov. 29, costs about $20,000.

Bart Sutherland, a former crewman, said he spent three months with Gainey earlier this year as the ship sailed from Cape Town to Lunenburg.

''When she arrived, I saw a wonderful, wonderful young women with a tremendous zest for life,'' Sutherland said from his home in Victoria. ''She was unbelievably happy to be on board the Picton Castle.''

Though Gainey had struggled with drugs earlier in life, she never spoke of her troubles, Sutherland said.

Instead she focused on helping others.

''Every time she walked by the galley, she'd stick her head in to talk to Joe, our cook, and say, `Do you need a hand with anything?' She was always on deck. Always bubbly. She didn't let anything bring her down.''

Sutherland stressed that Gainey had plenty of experience on a tall ship, having sailed on a similar vessel before joining the Picton Castle.

''She was definitely not a novice. . . . She knew her way around the ship. She had gone through many, many safety drills,'' he said.

''Safety is drilled into absolutely everyone onboard that ship. I know for a fact she was not careless. She would not have been doing something silly when the accident happened.''

He stressed that it wasn't unusual for the crew to not wear life-jackets during storms, mainly because heaving seas are so common on the open ocean and the Picton Castle is considered a very stable vessel, even in rough weather.

As well, he confirmed that crew members would not use tethers to clip themselves to the ship, a practice that is more common on smaller vessels.

FULL STORY
 

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Search for Gainey's daughter suspended

Canadian Press
12/11/2006 7:13:00 PM


LUNENBURG, N.S. (CP) - As hope that Laura Gainey would be found alive was all but extinguished Monday, her family, fellow crew members and a town with deep seafaring roots grieved the loss of a woman who loved her life aboard a three-masted ship.

In Portsmouth, Va., a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said their search for the daughter of Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Bob Gainey was suspended three days after a rogue wave swept her into the mid-Atlantic.

Petty Officer Larry Chambers confirmed that the tall ship Picton Castle would continue looking for its missing mate, but the coast guard's search aircraft had been called back to its base in North Carolina.

In Lunenburg, where two black pillars on the waterfront serve as a stark memorial to those lost at sea, postal carrier Nancy Rogers stood before the ship's home office and remarked on the sense of resignation in the historic community.

"I didn't have to know her, but she was a sailor. They all have the same heart. They go to sea, knowing that's what they want to be doing."

Less than two weeks ago, the square-rigged barque set sail from here for a six-month tour that would take it to the Caribbean.

Gainey, 25, was a member of the crew, a leading seaman with responsibility for certain watches and instruction of volunteer trainees.

She was standing in a protected area of the ship on Friday when the vessel was swamped by a huge wave.

When the crew realized Gainey was missing, they dropped radar deflectors and lighted buoys in the water.

She wasn't wearing a life-jacket, but the temperature of that area of the ocean - about 700 kilometres off Cape Cod - was hovering around 20 C.

A coast guard spokesman had said Gainey, a strong swimmer, could probably survive for about 36 hours.

However, after 70 hours in the water "the likelihood of survivability" would "diminish rapidly," Chambers said.

On Monday, the ship's despondent senior captain emerged to read a statement on behalf of the crew.

"They are tired and, like us, they are devastated," said a bleary-eyed Daniel Moreland, who was in the ship's home port when Gainey was reported missing.

"But they soldier on. They have a job to do. So do we."

The ship is mainly used to provide adventurous holidays for anyone over the age of 18.

Those who sign up for the six-month apprenticeship program learn to become qualified square-rigged seafarers.

A two week trip costs about $2,100. The current six-month voyage from Lunenburg to the Caribbean, which started Nov. 29, cost about $20,000.

Bart Sutherland, a former crewman, said he spent three months with Gainey earlier this year as the ship sailed from Cape Town to Lunenburg.

"When she arrived, I saw a wonderful, wonderful young woman with a tremendous zest for life," Sutherland said from his home in Victoria. "She was unbelievably happy to be on board the Picton Castle."

Though Gainey had struggled with drugs earlier in life, she never spoke of her troubles, Sutherland said.

Instead she focused on helping others.

"Every time she walked by the galley, she'd stick her head in to talk to Joe, our cook, and say, `Do you need a hand with anything?' She was always on deck. Always bubbly. She didn't let anything bring her down."

Sutherland stressed that Gainey had plenty of experience on a tall ship, having sailed on a similar vessel before joining the Picton Castle.

"She was definitely not a novice .. She knew her way around the ship. She had gone through many, many safety drills," he said.

"Safety is drilled into absolutely everyone onboard that ship. I know for a fact she was not careless. She would not have been doing something silly when the accident happened."

He stressed that it wasn't unusual for the crew to not wear life-jackets during storms, mainly because heaving seas are so common on the open ocean and the Picton Castle is considered a very stable vessel, even in rough weather.

FULL STORY
 
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