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For the first time in 42 years, an NHL player will experience the feeling of skating around Maple Leaf Gardens ice after being crowned a champion. Granted, Lord Stanley won't be in the house, but then the remaining three hockey players in tonight's Battle of the Blades final on CBC are already familiar with his trophy - Stéphane Richer, Claude Lemieux or Craig Simpson have eight rings among them, although it must be noted that none of them ever plied his trade in Toronto.

Short shrift for NFL fans The NFL must be trying to keep fans hungry ahead of next Thursday's three-game Thanksgiving feast. How else to explain the first two meagre servings of Thursday night football this season? While last week's San Francisco 49ers-Chicago Bears game may have been a barnstormer 20 years ago, neither team is setting the league alight these days and there was a noticeable lack of star appeal on both sides in the four-hour yawn fest. It doesn't get any better this week as the Miami Dolphins visit the Carolina Panthers in a game being promoted as the return of the Wildcat to Carolina. When a hype machine such as the NFL starts touting a formation in place of tangible stars, you know the game is going to be a snoozer.

Say it's so, Mo If reports are to be believed, Toronto FC director of soccer Mo Johnston will this week unveil the franchise's first bona fide head coach - as in someone who's actually been a success on the sidelines. Unlike TFC head-coaching failures Johnston, John Carver and Chris Cummins, former Chivas USA coach Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic has actually had winning seasons, led his team to the playoffs and - gasp - won a coach-of-the-year title, and all at the Major League Soccer level, too. With a résumé like that, he almost sounds overqualified to take charge of a fourth-year franchise yet to breathe the rarefied air of the playoffs, but then Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment dollars have always been the great leveller.

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Buckeye bullies come to town Though it's never nice to kick people when they're down, try telling that to Ohio State. What ESPN calls the best rivalry in sports resumes at the Big House this Saturday for the 106th time, but despite Michigan's tribulations of the past two years, the Buckeyes will doubtless come looking for more blood and their sixth successive win in the series. And having already booked their trip to the Rose Bowl as Big 10 champions, Ohio State will surely take as much pleasure - if not more - in trying to improve on the 42-7 beating it handed down to its hated rival last year.

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