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First Drake, who's next? Picking Toronto's other sports ambassadors

Understanding that the rebuilding of the Toronto Raptors will be a daunting task, the team's owner, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, has resorted to Drakeonian measures.

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Hoop-loving hip-hopper Drake has come on board as the franchise’s “global ambassador,” a new position very unrelated to the freelance diplomatic work being perpetrated by former NBA star Dennis Rodman in North Korea. It was announced Monday that the Toronto-bred music superstar will be the unofficial host of the team’s all-star weekend in 2016 and is to play a role in “rebranding” the unexciting franchise.

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Drake famously “started from the bottom” himself, which perhaps makes him qualified to help revitalize a squad that has failed to qualify for the postseason in the past five seasons. (If nothing else, he will put the “rap” in the Raptors.) It remains to be seen what impact Drake will have on the franchise, but the idea of bringing him on board is a bold stroke, one that might be copied by other Toronto franchises. Here are some suggestions for music-sports alliances.

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Who should Toronto FC bring in?

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Forget bending it like Beckham, how about singing it like Johnny Reid? The Juno-winning Scotland native is no doubt a footie fan, and songs such as Fire it Up have an upbeat, anthemic nature to them. And don’t worry about the dude’s leg strength: He was a place kicker for the Bishop’s University football squad.

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How about the Toronto Argonauts?

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In football parlance, a “nickelback” is an extra defensive back, used for extra defence against the pass. In music parlance, a Nickelback is an offensive hard-rock band. Last year, the Alberta-bred quartet was an unpopular choice as a halftime act for an NFL U.S. Thanksgiving game. Surely it is time for Chad Kroeger, whose last pass was a successful one thrown at wife Avril Lavigne, to return to friendlier CFL audiences.

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And the Toronto Blue Jays?

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A no-brainer. Rush singer-bassist Geddy Lee is a long-time season-ticketholder for the Jays, a once-proud franchise which hasn’t made the playoffs since winning the second of two World Series in 1993. Long before Drake was “repping” Toronto – in fact, five years before Drake was even born – Rush was saluting the city with its epic instrumental YYZ, the airport identification code for Pearson International Airport.

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And, of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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The intuitive choice would be The Tragically Hip, the iconic rock band which christened Air Canada Centre with the venue’s first-ever concert. Of course the group’s 1992 single Fifty Mission Cap references the mysterious disappearance of Leaf defenceman Bill Barilko, as well as Leaf Stanley Cup triumphs in 1951 and 1962. One sticking point, however: Singer-lyricist Gord Downie is a fan of the Boston Bruins. His godfather is fellow Kingston native Harry Sinden, the long-time coach, general manager and president of the big, bad Beantowners.

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