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A semi-tough crowd

Chris Pronger returned to Edmonton for the first time since his summertime trade to the Ducks, and contrary to the hot rumor before the game Tuesday, Oilers fans did not throw condoms on the ice.

The speculation in the Great White North, all unsubstantiated, was that the defenseman left town because of his varied extracurricular activities.

Anyway, fans booed and displayed signs with "Loser" on them. But the harassment was pretty tame.

"You try booing all game," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said after the game. "That's hard. Heck, my voice is pretty hoarse at the end of a game, and I'm a coach."

A bitter taste

Former Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant is pretty mad about some of the stuff Columbus players have said since he was fired. Anson Carter said the Jackets under Gallant played "like an AHL team."

Gallant, a former Lightning player, fired back in the Columbus Dispatch.

"I get upset when I read in the papers about the guys saying how different it is now, about how much better everything is (under new coach Ken Hitchcock)," he said.

"All I know is the system we played this season is the same we played at the end of last season when we were 23-16-1. I was a good coach then."

Gallant said he won't stay mad: "I'm a Blue Jacket. That's how I feel, even though I got fired."

A heartwarming story

Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher has a lot on his mind lately with his father, Jean-Claude, in hospice with pancreatic cancer and his mother, Jacqueline, recovering from heart valve replacement surgery.

And his wife has health issues.

So when Boucher got his first NHL hat trick - Nov. 24 against the Kings - it was like a feel-good gift from heaven.

"I'm playing for a lot of people right now," Boucher said after the game. "(Coach Dave Tippett) gave me the game puck, so it will mean a lot to give it to my dad."

They said it

"I've tried a slapper every now and then, but I try to avoid it. I can't hit the net with it." - Avalanche star Joe Sakic in an Edmonton Journal story about his wrist shot.

"You know how a black cat crossing your path is supposed to be bad luck? One was crossing in front of my truck, and I ran it over. It was an accident. It was awful." - Wild assistant general manager Tom Lynn in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on his team's recent spate of injuries.

"That was the worst game in the six years I've been here. Embarrassing. We didn't play like a team and didn't trust our teammates to do the job." - the Panthers' Olli Jokinen after Thursday's 6-0 loss to the Senators.

Fun in the sun

So, you think hockey has to be played in frigid temperatures with snow and ice to have a legitimate feel? Some Flames players think that's bunk and told the Calgary Herald that Sun Belt hockey is just fine.

"It is not a terrible thing to drive to the rink with the top down," goalie and former Panther Jamie McLennan said.

"It's definitely not harder to wake up, wear a T-shirt and shorts and go to the rink," former Duck Jeff Friesen said.

Odds and ends

The Buffalo News reported that since Lindy Ruff, the NHL's longest-tenured coach, was hired in 1997, there have been 101 coaching changes. ... Maple Leafs defenseman Pavel Kubina changed from No. 73 to 31. He wanted 13, but it belongs to captain Mats Sundin. ... Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster suffered a fractured larynx, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, when teammate Kim Johnsson misfired a clearing pass into the bench. ... When Brett Hull's No. 16 is retired Tuesday by the Blues, he and Bobby Hull will be the NHL's first father-son duo to have their numbers retired.