"Ken Hitchcock has done a first-rate job since taking over as the Columbus (Blue Jackets) coach."

Although he underachieved woefully and was overpaid foolishly during his one and only season with the Argonauts, high-profile running back Ricky Williams was perceived generally in Toronto as a mellow, passive chap who avoided confrontations and devoted himself largely to the peaceful pastime of yoga.

Well, his image in the CFL differed dramatically with how he was viewed in the NFL.


In fact, during NBC’s telecast the other night of the New Orleans-Dallas game, Al Michaels and John Madden described Williams as a cantankerous, mean-spirited individual who made life miserable for his backup with the Saints a few years ago. That backup was Deuce McAllister, now an established star, and he told the broadcasters that, because of what he experienced with Williams, he decided this season to go out of his way to be as encouraging as possible to his new running mate in New Orleans, rookie Reggie Bush.

McAllister said Williams would do everything he could to tear him down and cut him up. Bush, on the other hand, attributes much of his success to McAllister.

•American League MVP Justin Morneau is still waiting for the Minnesota Twins to enrich him with a new contract, but, in the meantime, he’s running a volunteer food bank at home in B.C. ... Look for ex-Blue Jay Miguel Batista to sign with the Mariners -— three years for about $25 million US. He’ll be in Seattle’s starting rotation, ending his days as a closer ... Speaking of closers, Quebec native Eric Gagne has narrowed his choices to Cleveland, Texas and San Francisco and will receive a base of $6-million for 2007 despite sitting out most of the past two seasons with a throwing arm that required major surgery ... Boston, believe it or not, may give up on pursuing Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and may use the megabucks instead to bring back Roger Clemens. The Red Sox would like to see Clemens end his Hall of Fame career where he started it ... Joe Brinkman is retiring after 34 years as a major-league umpire. Toronto bench coach Ernie Whitt has long believed Brinkman held a grudge against the Jays.

•Former Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens was appointed vice-chairman of the Supersonics the other day and also serves as a homer analyst on Seattle broadcasts. Word is, he may soon replace Bob Hill as coach ... Ken Hitchcock has done a first-rate job since taking over as the Columbus coach. The Blue Jackets are 5-3 under him and would be 8-0 if not for some bad breaks, including officiating blunders ... And Charlie Taaffe will return to the CFL this week as coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats even though he was let go recently as the interim offensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh.


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