Shame on you so called hockey fans out there who think youíre too good to stand at attention and show some respect for your neighbors. What exactly is wrong with you? Who do you think you are?

Of course, Iím referring to the disrespectful idiots who felt it was necessary to boo during the Canadian or American National Anthems in protest to war.

For those of you who didnít see it, it started in Montreal before the NY Islanders-Habs game as The Star Spangled Banner played. Fast forward one night later and fans in Atlanta booed while O-Canada played before the Thrashers-Senators game.

Why was this necessary? Is there no other way to protest against events going on in the Middle East?

This type of behavior is not new to professional sports. I personally feel there should be some mandate put in place to eject fans from events if they canít show their respects to their respective countries.

Players and NHL officials further went on to say there is no place for this type of behavior in our society. I couldnít agree more.

Picture this for a second. If it werenít for the efforts of people like George W. Bush and his many allies along with the United Nations, would anybody have the freedom to even think about attending a hockey game? You know as well as I do you would not. You most likely wouldnít even have the freedom to sit comfortably while you read this column.  Heck, I'd be hauled into court for writing it!

Attending a public event such as this gives you the freedom to forget about your life for at least a few hours and concentrate on nothing but watching the puck go back and forth, and with any luck it will go in the opposing teamís net more than the home teamís net.

You fans who feel itís your God given right to conduct yourselves this way need to take a long look in the mirror. Are you too vain to understand or even care about how your actions affect others who were actually brought up to show respect for their country?

Iíll admit, Iím not the most patriotic person in the world, but I am proud of the country I live in and I wouldnít even think of acting this way. Granted, not every arena has a good national anthem singer. I consider Ottawa to be very fortunate to have someone like Ontario Provincial Police Constable Lyndon Slewidge available for every Senators home game. Everytime I hear this gentleman sing both anthems I get goose bumps and cheer him on like thereís no tomorrow (after heís finished of course). Nothing gets one pumped up more for a game than getting a couple of minutes to reflect on your country and to realize just how lucky we have it. Having said that, it doesnít give anybody the right to boo and people should simply shut up and show some humanity and respect.

Now my intention on writing this was not to start a debate as to whether or not the War on Iraq is right or wrong, or whether or not people have the right to protest. Iím not denying anybodyís right to an opinion. I just feel there are much better ways to vent your frustration about whatís going on in the world than to boo during whatís been a tradition for so many years.

There are many who are of the opinion anthems should be eliminated from major sporting events. I disagree. If nothing else is sacred in this world, I want to know I can still go to a game and have the opportunity to look at my countryís flag and reflect and be proud of my accomplishments, even if only for a few minutes.

Timing is certainly not on the side of this sacrilege. While we have the freedom to go out and earn a living and then come home and relax, there are people in other parts of this world who do not enjoy such luxuries. As you read this, there are men and women over in Iraq who are fighting to not only allow us to keep our freedom, but to enable others who may not be as fortunate to have an opportunity to see life from our perspective and not from the perspective of a Hitler reincarnation.

John Lennon said it best. ďAll we are saying is give peace a chance.Ē

Iím going to take it a step further and make a plea to you fans out there to give the National Anthems their three minutes of fame and then sit back and enjoy, and remember how lucky you are. At the same time, think of those who arenít so lucky and quit while youíre ahead. If you want or feel you have to protest, do it outside the arena, do it in the city streets, do it in front of City Hall, or even on Parliament Hill, and stay out of my way.

I for one hope I do not see this again, but the reality is weíve most likely not seen the end. Iíve had more than my share of run-ins with fans in the past, but if I have to have one more to uphold the very virtues of what our respective countries are built on, so be it. So do me a favor, if you see me behind you or in front of you, stand up, take your hat off, and shut up. Once the game starts, I donít care. Just make sure youíre not blocking my view of the game, and keep your beer to yourself.

This week, hockey is taking a backseat to CNN. When I return, Iíll have some insight on the upcoming playoffs along with news on a special incentive I have in store which Iím sure will go over very well.

Bravo to the NHL and other sports leagues for not putting their games on hold so as to enable me to take breaks from the news. God willing, this war will be over in a hurry and we can get on with life and not have to worry about terrorists or dictators. Realistically though, if adversity didnít exist, thereíd be no need or point to sports.

Take care folks, and donít forget to comb your hair.

More Puckin' Around...