As aerial search ends, Gainey family thanks helpers

MONTREAL -- The family of Canadian hockey great Bob Gainey
on Tuesday thanked supportive fans and all those who helped search
for his daughter, who has been missing since a huge wave swept her
overboard a ship in the Atlantic.

Laura Gainey was on the deck of the 180-foot tall ship Picton
Castle on Friday night when the wave hit the ship. She was wearing
protective clothing but no lifejacket at the time. The U.S. Coast
Guard called off the search for Gainey, 25, on Monday night.

A moment of silence was held for Laura Gainey prior to the start of the Montreal Canadiens game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

In their first comments since the incident 475 miles off Cape
Cod, the Montreal Canadiens general manager and his three other
children thanked "all the people who have been involved in the
search for our darling Laura."

"Their extensive efforts and their tremendous support
throughout this ordeal will never be forgotten," the family said
in a statement released by the Montreal Canadiens. "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."

Less than two weeks ago, the tall ship set sail from Lunenburg,
Nova Scotia, for a six-month tour that would take it to the
Caribbean. Gainey was a member of the crew, with responsibility for
certain watches and instruction of volunteer trainees.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard aircraft had scoured the ocean for
Gainey using infrared night-vision technology to continue searches
at night.

While the water temperature was found to be a relatively warm 68
degrees in that part of the mid-Atlantic, and Gainey was a strong
swimmer, the Coast Guard called off the search Monday evening as it
was unlikely she could have survived 70 hours in the water.

On Tuesday, the Picton Castle, which had also been actively
searching along with two merchant ships, also announced it was
ending its search.

"The time has now come to end the search and allow our crew to
carry on with the voyage southward towards calmer, safer waters,"
captain Daniel Moreland said. "They are tired, grief-stricken for
their shipmate and heartsick for the Gainey family."

Gainey has taken a leave of absence from the team. A moment of
silence will be held when the Canadiens face Boston in Montreal on
Tuesday night.

A member of the hockey Hall of Fame, Gainey won five Stanley
Cups with Montreal during a 16-year career as a forward from
1973-89. He also won a championship as general manager of the
Dallas Stars in 1999. His wife, Cathy, died of brain cancer in 1995
at 39.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.