MONTREAL -- Even in death, Maurice Richard inspired outbursts of admiring applause from the thousands who came Wednesday to say goodbye at an emotional funeral service.
Many arrived at the ornate Notre-Dame Basilica looking much like they would turn up to see a game -- wearing Montreal Canadiens jerseys and caps, jeans, even cameras draped around their necks.
As 1,500 fans crowded inside to join 1,200 family, friends and dignitaries, hundreds more milled around outside to watch the 80-minute service on a large screen.
The funeral for Richard, who died Saturday at 78 after a long battle with abdominal cancer and Parkinson's disease, attracted a who's who of hockey and politics rarely seen together in one setting.
Prime ministers, Quebec premiers past and present, as well as hockey stars from at least seven decades were among those who paid tribute to the man whose on-ice exploits thrilled all of Canada from 1942 until 1960.
Mourners broke into spontaneous applause for Richard after the homily and after his son Maurice Richard Jr. spoke.
There also were bursts of polite applause throughout Richard's hour-long funeral procession downtown and as his casket was carried in and out of the church.
Inside the basilica, the smell of incense hung heavy in the air during the simple service and Roman Catholic Mass.
Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal, praised Richard in his sermon.
''Maurice Richard was an intense man, passionate, true to his values and convictions,'' Turcotte said. ''His passing was felt by people across the country. It was like losing a friend.''
Richard Jr. told the mourners the family has felt nothing but love over the last few days. He took special note of the 115,000 people who paid their respects to his father on Tuesday as he lay in state at the Molson Centre.
He added that his father would have approved of the huge outpouring of affection.
''I'm sure that if he's watched from above what's happened over the last two or three days, he would be very proud,'' Richard Jr. said.
''The Rocket'' has been described as a simple, unpretentious man. But his death sparked extensive media coverage, with the funeral services being broadcast live on several TV networks across Canada.
His popularity has endured throughout the 40 years since he last played an NHL game, surpassing any boundaries of age, language or politics.
Wednesday's mourners included players from several decades, including the 1950s when Richard scored most of his goals which regularly lifted hockey fans out of their seats.
Some of Richard's teammates on the 1950s Montreal Canadiens dynasty, including Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore and Dollard St. Laurent, were among the crowd who paid their final respects.
Others who filtered into the basilica included Gordie Howe, a bitter rival of Richard's in the 1940s and '50s; Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who used to coach the Canadiens; Los Angeles Kings forward Luc Robitaille; and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Following the service, Howe expressed wonder at Richard's exceptional devotion to their game.
''I could never figure out how a man could put that much into it,'' Howe said. ''I know I couldn't. I went home and forgot about it.
"The Rocket would live it, right to the bitter end. That's what made him a great competitor.''
The political world was represented by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard and former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
Edmonton to the rescue again: Sather set to join Rangers
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have turned to Edmonton yet again in hopes of reviving the franchise.
Glen Sather, the architect of the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty in the 1980s, is set to be introduced as the Rangers' president and general manager Thursday.
The team would not confirm the hiring but said there will be a ''major announcement regarding the organization's management.''
The New York Times and Edmonton Sun reported that Sather had reached an agreement with the club.
Sather and his wife were headed to New York from their Southern California home. His hiring would come hours before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals between Dallas and New Jersey.
Flyers plan to keep Lindros
PHILADELPHIA -- Eric Lindros' career with the Philadelphia Flyers may not be over after all.
Flyers chairman Ed Snider said Wednesday the team plans to re-sign Lindros, who can become a restricted free agent on July 1.
Lindros sustained his fourth concussion in five months and sixth in just over two years in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last Friday.
''We believe Eric will be healthy and will be able to play hockey,'' Snider said in an interview on Comcast SportsNet, which is owned by the Flyers.
Asked if the Flyers plan to sign Lindros and keep him in Philadelphia, Snider said, ''of course.''
The Flyers must tender Lindros a qualifying offer of $8.5 million -- equal to this year's salary -- to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Lindros' medical history coupled with his tense relationship with management made it seem unlikely the Flyers would make the offer.
Lindros, appearing somber and depressed at a news conference on Monday, is contemplating retirement or sitting out up to a full season.
If he retires before July 1, the Flyers retain his rights. If he retires after July 1, the Flyers would retain his rights only if they make the qualifying offer.
''I don't know what the future holds,'' Lindros said Monday, less than three days after his latest concussion knocked him out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lindros returned to his home in Toronto on Tuesday to undergo further treatment for his concussion. Neither Lindros nor his father and agent, Carl Lindros, could immediately be reached for comment.
The 27-year-old former captain indicated he would like to return to Philadelphia, but said, ''I don't think that's my decision.''
General manager Bob Clarke has a major role in making that decision, but Clarke's relationship with Lindros deteriorated this season.
After Lindros criticized the team's medical staff for failing to diagnose his second concussion on March 4, Clarke stripped the star center of his captaincy.
The two haven't spoken in months, and Clarke shunned Lindros when he encountered him in a corridor at the team's practice site Monday.
''I think Bob Clarke has taken a bad rap in this whole thing because Eric felt certain things happened and he and his agent-father were angry at Bob Clarke. Bob Clarke's never been angry at Eric,'' Snider said. ''They speak when they have to speak. They're not warm buddies because Eric, I guess, has made it known that he's not too happy with Bob Clarke.''
Lindros was playing in his second game after a 10-week absence due to postconcussion syndrome when Scott Stevens took him out with a thunderous hit early in the New Jersey's 2-1 victory Friday that sent the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals.
''The real problem with concussions is that nobody can give you a definitive answer so, at some point, we're just going to have to make a decision ourselves as to what we believe,'' Snider said.
Lindros' younger brother, Brett, retired from the NHL in 1996 after three concussions with the New York Islanders and an undetermined number of concussions in juniors.
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