Vaclav Prospal of the Senators apologized yesterday to French Canadians for using an ethnic slur against Patrice Brisebois of the Canadiens. But he refused to apologize to Brisebois.

Brisebois, who is French Canadian, said Prospal called him a "frog" during a 4-4 tie in Ottawa on Dec. 27. He said the slur was preceded by an obscenity.

Prospal, who is Czech, said before his team's game last night with the Hurricanes that he did not know the remark was an insult. "I said it in the heat of the moment," he said. "That was the first thing that came to my mind.

"For the seven years I have been in America, what I learned was every time you make fun of French guys or something you would say that," he added. "I guess I really didn't understand that was a racial comment." NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league is investigating.

QUINN, BOWMAN NAMED: The Maple Leafs' Pat Quinn and the Red Wings' Scotty Bowman will coach the North America and World teams, respectively, in the 50th NHL All-Star Game Feb. 6 in Toronto. The starting lineups will be announced Saturday during halftime of ABC's coverage of the NFL playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.