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New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk skates with the puck in the second period of the Devils' 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Kovalchuk, who scored the team's only goal, returned to the ice Sunday a day after Devils coach John MacLean benched him Saturday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens)
New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk skates with the puck in the second period of the Devils' 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Kovalchuk, who scored the team's only goal, returned to the ice Sunday a day after Devils coach John MacLean benched him Saturday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens)

Leafs, Raptors, Kovy: Just when you thought it couldn't get worse

Total Fail: Your Essential Reading Add to ...

We'll start with Roy McGregor's story about the early days of the Ottawa Senators when then Sens head coach Rick Bowness - sensing a tough sledding ahead - hired an unknown local junior coach Alain Vigneault as an assistant in part because of his sense of humour.

The Sens and Canucks play tonight in Ottawa, inspiring some memories, like the time someone broke in to the Senators practice facility and left their game tapes untouched: "Burglars with taste" was the explanation.

Vigneault is classy too, as indicated by his letter of congratulations to Wally Buono and the BC Lions on their season turnaround. We'll start there because it's going to be hard not to be Toronto-centric for a bit, and looking back at one of the worst teams in NHL history -- those 95-96 Sens lost 70 games and 41 straight on the road -- is a fitting segue to the gruesomeness of the scene here.

You'd think that T-Zero would be used to the losing, but seriously, it has to be getting close to rock-bottom. You'd think.

With much of the news Wednesday d ominated by the timing of MLSE boss Richard Peddie's inevitable-though-not-so-imminent departure, his two flagship franchises head out and rack up consecutive losses No.7 (Leafs) and No. 6 (Raptors) to teams -- Florida and Charlotte -- who are expect to be battling to stay out of the basement along with them.

And if you're the type who can handle some pleasure with the pain, it's going to get worse: The Raptors are heading to Florida to start a four-game road trip with a back-to-back set against Orlando (Vince Carter) and Miami (Chris what's his name).

The Heat on the second night of a back-to-back? The Raptors could very well lose by 50.

As for the Leafs, the endless and excruciating aspect of this debacle for their fans is the knowledge that Phil Kessel - pointless during their losing streak - may well have cost Brian Burke not only the No.2 pick in 2010 but a top-five - with a bullet! - pick in 2011.

Damien Cox is preaching calm here -- don't do anything drastic like trade another first-rounder -- which is like trying to ignore the water seeping under your door on the Titanic, but he's right.

The good news for Leafs fans? They're not Devils fans. The word I hear my kids use all the time is "fail" as in: "that was a total fail."

This shootout attempt by Ilya Kovalchuk is a total fail. Worth watching, especially for the reaction by Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, who is classy enough not to celebrate. Oh well, think of the cap space the Devils will have in 2025 when Kovy's deal expires.

Other good news for Leaf fans? Their leading scorer didn't just break their ankle in a fight as T.J. Oshie did while the Blues lost 8-1 to Columbus.

Elsehwere, Steve Nash's name has been popping up as someone who might be the finishing piece on a team trying to make some noise in the playoffs: He's really good, first of all, his contract is short and reasonable, by NBA standards at two-years and $23-million; and the Suns look like they're heading into a rebuild which a 36-year-old Nash won't likely be around to see.

Nash did the right thing in sounding like a guy who wants to see it through in the desert; but my money has him moving this season. We'll have more on this later, but yesterday was the first day that basketball players heading into Division I NCAA programs could sign their letter of intent and the gold rush of Canadian basketball talent continues.

And Saskatchewan Roughriders punter immediately became my favourite CFL player after reading this profile of him in the Regina Leader-Post. Asked about his trademark handlebar mustache, he explains:"They're kind of like the girl who comes into the bar with the nice high heels on - clickety clack - and everybody turns their head. That's kind of what a moustache does, right?''

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