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There are no ifs, ands or buts about this: John Muckler will be part of the Maple Leafs’ brass by this time next week.
Metro first disclosed Muckler’s interest in Toronto in this space June 19. We then reported the Leafs’ interest in Muckler June 20.
Super-agent Gil Scott, who also represents Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr., is putting the finishing touches on the deal.
Muckler, at 73, is psyched. He’s hungry for revenge against the Senators, who fired him last month after what he considers back-stabbing by his coach, Bryan Murray, who wound up replacing him as Ottawa’s GM.
• Not that Hamilton will wind up with an NHL franchise — I’ve never in my career seen so much air time and newspaper space wasted on such a non-story — but I hear the would-be owner planned to call this team — get this — the Hamilton Blackberries.
•Grant Hill, a five-time NBA all-star, is joining Canadian superstar Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns for a contract worth $1.2-million, turning down more than double from the Raptors ... Morris Peterson, who never liked Toronto coach Sam Mitchell, is finished as a Raptor and has attracted the interest of the Cavaliers. Superstar LeBron James has specifically asked Cleveland management to pursue Mo Pete... Look for the free-spending New York Knicks to soon acquire controversial forward Ron Artest from the Sacramento Kings.
• It took soccer’s under-20 World Cup only four days and 16 matches to draw more than 400,000 spectators — a Canadian attendance record for a sports event. More than a million will ultimately turn out, but there are still detractors.
“How could I possibly get interested in those under-20 games when such formidable teams as Italy, France, England and Germany are not participating?” asked e-mailer Jean Fournier. “It’s like eating a cake without any sugar in it.”
• Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Orlando Hudson, a National League all-star, is unhappy in Arizona and has asked the Diamondbacks to trade him. The Chicago White Sox are interested ... Canadian reliever Eric Gagne of the Texas Rangers will soon be dealt to the Detroit Tigers or Cleveland Indians ... Ace starting pitcher Johan Santana wants $25 million US a year beginning next season, which means there’s no chance the economically challenged Minnesota Twins will re-sign him ... Ex-Jays star second baseman Roberto Alomar is long gone but his older brother, 41-year-old Sandy Alomar Jr., is back in the big leagues after being called up from Triple A by the New York Mets.