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Chris Bosh has done more than set a Toronto Raptors career scoring standard. So far, at least, he's shown professional athletes how to conduct themselves in a contract year. The Toronto Raptors still seem to be a fatally-flawed unit, but through it all Bosh's pending free-agency eligibility seldom surfaces as a storyline - a blessing in a city that has already lived through the protracted departure of Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. It's true that is in part because the NBA's regulations make a sign-and-trade scenario a way to even more riches for a potential free-agent, but still, Bosh has avoided the cutesy answers and actions that send out mixed messages.

Soccer's January transfer window is open and Canadian player of the year Simeon Jackson, a 22-year-old striker with 13 goals for League One Gillingham in England, will be on the move. Premier League sides Everton and Wolves have been linked with the Jamaican-born, Mississauga-raised Jackson, as have the Championship's Queens Park Rangers.

I guess I'd feel better about Aleksandra Wozniak being The Canadian Press's female athlete of the year if she'd actually won something, as opposed to nearly breaking into the top 20 or whatever she did. I thought we'd moved beyond personal bests and all that stuff. Speed skater Christine Nesbitt was the obvious choice, but again, no sports curry favour with the media more than tennis and golf.

We're going to talk for a second about Toronto's make-believe NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, so if the rest of the country wants to - hell, look away now. (Plenty of pucks elsewhere in the paper.) Know why I can't get all worked up about Ralph Wilson hiring 70-year-old Buddy Nix as general manager? Because to me it leaves open the possibility of one of those under-football guys like Bill Cowher returning as a coach with the GM's job as a carrot for 2011. Nix sounds like Jed Clampett but - shoot! - the guy can probably do preliminary draft work with the rest of them.

See, told you there'd be pucks-a-plenty! It's nice that every now and then something happens to prevent Canada's march to the world junior championship from being something other than a mere coronation - that once in a while the Americans can throw a scare into the kids or that once in a while a bad team like the Swiss can drop the Russians. Nice, too, that the TV ratings are so good - although I wonder, if we keep hearing about how the new "people meters" are so accurate compared to the old format, doesn't that render comparison with the past obsolete? Shouldn't this year, in fact, be the base-line for future comparisons? But every time the Latvians send out a team, I think maybe this tournament should be held only every other year and only in Canada. It is off the radar screen every place else in the world and, since each country has several returning players (Canada has six), there is little chance that some top prospect would miss out on his turn. Most of the top prospects seem to get at least two cracks at it, anyway. Failing that, the International Ice Hockey Federation could always prevent teams from using returning players because, while it's nice to beat the hell out of other countries in some sport, it's frankly more often than not dull as hell.

Given the relationship that Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston has with Randy and Alan Hendricks, the agents for Cuban free-agent pitcher Aroldis Chapman who also helped finagle Roger Clemens's famous/infamous deal and "out clause" with the Blue Jays, it's no surprise that Chapman would work out privately for the Blue Jays. I'm told it was initiated mostly by Chapman's camp, and that baseball people believe Chapman's friendship with fellow Cuban defector Kendry Morales of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could sway things. Chapman, 21, wants $20-million to $25-million (U.S.) and know what? In an odd way that fits in with the Blue Jays philosophy of doing what they can to get high-ceilinged talent into the fold. For GM Alex Anthopoulos, it's less of a gamble than a major-league free agent because it will be easy to keep Chapman out of sight/out of mind for a while. It's just money that won't be going to the major-league roster, anyhow.


" We're all professionals. It's not like it's the first time we'll be doing it. Sometimes you're playing against a friend you grew up with, sometimes one of your partners gets traded and the next day you're playing against him. At some point in time, you've done it already."

Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Russia defenceman Sergei Gonchar, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette what it's like to know this week's teammate is next month's Olymicp opponent.

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