Long day for Vermette

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

BOSTON -- Antoine Vermette's heart dropped into his stomach yesterday morning.

The Senators winger learned, through Le Droit sports editor Marc Brassard, that his cousin had been involved in a serious car accident on Hwy. 173 in Quebec on Wednesday night.

Frederic Vermette survived the crash. Jonathan Delisle, a Hull Olympiques forward from 1995-97, did not.

"He's lucid, he can talk, even though he's a little lost because of the morphine," said Antoine, who called his dad to find out about Frederic, both his relative and close friend. "It's looking like the fact he wasn't wearing a seat belt saved his life. He was ejected from the car, which burned down."

Frederic Vermette, 39, and Delisle, 28, were teammates on CSR Express de St-Georges de Beauce of the semi-pro North American Hockey League. They were leaving practice when the tragedy occurred.

Antoine knew Delisle, a former Montreal Canadiens draft pick, as the two had previously trained together.

"He was a really good guy," said Antoine.

He was also a tough little hockey player, as we recall.

Condolences to the friends Delisle had in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

Starts and Stops:

Saw Ray Bourque in the pressbox. He's 45 and looks like he could still very much help the Bruins. Saw Wayne Cashman, too. He's 60 and walking with a limp. He looks like he could help them, too ... A hockey-playing student doing a "documentary" asked John Muckler for an interview as the Senators GM headed for the team bus yesterday morning. With the video rolling, he asked Muckler for a prediction in the Frozen Four tournament, which will be held in Milwaukee starting April 7. "I'd take B.C.," Muckler said, referring to Boston College. "Oh," the kid said, his shoulders sagging. "I play for UNH." Replied Muckler, to much laughter. "Good luck." (Suddenly wondering if that was one of those you-had-to-be-there stories. Because it was funny at the time, believe me) ... Seeing Travis Green out there for the B's made me think of his old friend, Ziggy Palffy, and wonder if Green had a chance to kiss him good bye when he retired ... Say this about Dominik Hasek: Great puck stopper, terrible skater. Either that or he was wearing somebody bigger's dull goalie skates when he twirled around TD Banknorth Garden yesterday. I know at least two older Sun sportswriters who could beat him in a race on blades right now.

Between Periods:

Former 67's captain Nick Boynton was full of remorse as he sat in the dressing room after yesterday's morning skate. Boynton, who had been suspended for one game last week after making a throat slash gesture at Habs forward Mike Ribeiro, put his team in a 5-on-3 disadvantage when he mouthed off to the referee against the Leafs Tuesday. Toronto scored twice with Boynton in the box. "The team's played really well lately and I've cost us a couple of games," he said. "I regret it, and I apologized to the guys. It was stupidity on my part. I have to keep my emotions in check and I will, starting today." Boynton, who adamantly denies suggestions he wants out of Beantown, expressed similar sentiments to coach Mike Sullivan yesterday. "Nick and I spoke for quite some time," said Sullivan. "He's well aware that when he loses control of his emotions, it has a negative impact. He certainly assured me it's not going to happen again, and I assured him it can't be tolerated."

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

Sens play-by-play man Dean Brown missed his second straight game recovering from a small rupture of the appendix that, while not needing surgery, did put him in the hospital. Deano is now home and hopeful of returning for tomorrow's home game against Buffalo. Calling the action on A-Channel in his place was Gordie Wilson, who by all accounts handled the duties spectacularly Tuesday. No surprise there ... Ray Emery almost never even made it into the land of Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. An over-zealous customs official scolded the Sens goalie for allowing his passport to fade ("It's been through the wash a few times," admits Razor) and then kicked him out of his line when he didn't think Emery was taking him seriously enough. The laid-back Emery handled the sticky situation like he does most; he shrugged and moved on, this time to another line ... As shifty as Marty Havlat is, one of the best moves in the NHL is made by Boston bus drivers who negotiate the vehicle backwards up a 70-yard long ramp leading into TD Banknorth Garden. That might not sound so tough until you know it's also only slightly wider than a bus ... Funny, some of the best pizza I've ever had came from Boston Pizza in Ottawa, and now the absolute worst slice I've tasted was in Boston on Wednesday. Stay away from the pie made at Adam's near the Quincy Market.


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