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12/12/2006 11:01:38 AM

The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins have endured their share of off-ice challenges over the last couple of days, and will try their best to play a good game when the two teams meet at the Bell Centre tonight.

All the Canadiens feel they can give to general manager Bob Gainey is their support and, if possible, a victory.

News that Gainey's 25-year-old daughter Laura was missing at sea for a third day attracted a mob of media and lent a sombre mood to the Canadiens practice on Monday. "Everyone's in a state of shock now," said coach Guy Carbonneau. "But the best thing for us to do now is to hope for a miracle and keep winning. I think that's what Bob wants."

Laura Gainey was swept overboard the tall ship Picton Castle during a storm in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday night. Gainey has temporarily left the team to be with his family, and issued a brief statement on Tuesday after the search was called off.

"We wish to sincerely thank all the people who have been involved in the search for our darling Laura," the Gainey family said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Their extensive efforts and their tremendous support throughout this ordeal will never be forgotten. We would particularly like to thank the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax for their extraordinary efforts. We are also very grateful to the entire crew of the Picton Castle and the merchant ships that graciously volunteered their time and resources. Our family would like to express our deep appreciation for the overwhelming support and prayers from our family, friends and the general public. Thank you."

Assistant GM Pierre Gauthier, who is handling Gainey's duties, president Pierre Boivin and other team officials visited the dressing room before practice to bring the players up to date on the situation. The players only learned that the missing woman from the Picton Castle was Laura Gainey when they turned on their televisions or radios Sunday, when her identity was made public.

Carbonneau, who played with Gainey in the 1980s and later played for him in Dallas, knew about it Saturday morning, but opted not to tell his players before or after their 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo that night.

"I didn't want to distract the players," said Carbonneau. "I could have told them after the game, but I wasn't comfortable with that.

"Bob is a very private and discreet person. The name hadn't been released and Bob wanted that it not be known for as long as possible."

Carbonneau has been in daily contact by phone with Gainey. He said the GM was concerned about the team, but Carbonneau urged him to set that aside for now.

"That's the worst thing for a parent - to lose a child, no matter what the age," he said. "For sure, he was in a state of shock, but he's still strong mentally.

"Even today (Monday), he was as solid as he was Saturday morning when he called. He's still hoping like everyone else."

Carbonneau said he knew Laura Gainey mainly when she and her siblings were small children and Bob was still playing for Montreal.

The crisis hit home with some players, like captain Saku Koivu, the father of a young family who survived a battle with cancer in 2001-02, and defenceman Mike Komisarek, who lost his mother to cancer during the 2005-06 season.

"I was so fortunate to be involved in an organization like the Montreal Canadiens, with the way they treated me and my family," said Komisarek. "I know what Bob's going through, but he's got this whole team behind him."

Now, the Canadiens hope to win a game for their general manager.

"It's not an easy situation," said Koivu. "Hockey is not the first thing on our minds right now.

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