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Gainey asks Canadiens fans not to boo US anthem

NHL.com @NHL

BROSSARD, Quebec (AP) -Bob Gainey is asking Montreal Canadiens fans to stop booing the United States national anthem.

Just because the hometown team is on the verge of being swept out of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Boston Bruins, fans shouldn't take out their frustration on their neighbor to the south.

Gainey, the coach and general manager of the struggling Canadiens, urged those who booed Monday during "The Star Spangled Banner" before Game 3 to find other ways to voice their support for Montreal.

"I feel like there's a confusion there with our fans," Gainey said Tuesday. "They feel like booing the anthem is supporting our team, in that the anthem represents the Boston team.

"And I think if they could separate those two things, then we could respect the anthem of the United States of America and they could still participate loudly in whatever way they want to disrupt the Bruins."

Many fans booed the U.S. anthem at the Bell Centre on Monday night, even though others tried to drown them out with chants of "Go Habs Go."

Similar booing has been heard during the playoffs in recent years. In the past, the Canadiens responded with a taped appeal on the scoreboard from Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau, asking fans to respect the anthems of the U.S. and Canada. That curtailed the booing somewhat at subsequent games.

Instead of replaying the tape, the Canadiens hope Gainey's appeal will be enough to stop it this time, a team official said.

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, a native of Flint, Mich., said he wasn't put off by the booing but also appreciated Gainey's remarks.

"That sounds like a very classy thing he did," Thomas said.

"I've heard it before," he added about the booing. "The same thing happened last year and it happened just about every time I've played here. I was prepared for it. I knew what was going to happen and I just ignored it."

Boston leads the best-of-seven, first-round series 3-0 and will attempt to sweep the series Wednesday night in Montreal.

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