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Figo tells AP he is quitting FIFA presidential race

Figo, Van Praag quit FIFA presidential race, leaving Prince Ali alone to challenge Blatter
Barry Hatton, The Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal - Calling FIFA a dictatorship under Sepp Blatter, presidential candidate Luis Figo dropped out of the election race on Thursday.

The Portugal great and former FIFA world player of the year said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that he refuses to go along with an election process that is designed "for the delivery of absolute power to one man" — indicating Blatter, the current FIFA president.

Indy 500 veteran Ryan Briscoe replaces injured Hinchcliffe

Ryan Briscoe to drive over No. 5 car of injured James Hinchcliffe in Sunday's Indy 500
Dave Skretta, The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Ryan Briscoe was home in Connecticut, getting ready to leave for France next week for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when he received a call he had been anticipating.

Ever since the devastating wreck that sent James Hinchcliffe to the hospital during Monday's practice for the Indianapolis 500, the natural assumption had been that Briscoe would step into the No. 5 car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 99th running of the race.

Babcock welcomes massive challenge with Leafs

Mike Babcock welcomes mountain of a challenge as Maple Leafs coach
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Brendan Shanahan's first conversation with Mike Babcock about the Toronto Maple Leafs' vacant coaching position was more of a disclaimer than a sales pitch. The club president wanted Babcock to know how far away the Leafs are from being a winning team.

Babcock wasn't scared off.

Babcock's deal good news for NHL coaches

Mike Babcock's big-money deal with Maple Leafs good news for fellow NHL coaches
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Mike Babcock's coaching contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs has suddenly and dramatically altered the financial outlook for his NHL counterparts.

Babcock's eight-year deal worth US$50 million not only makes him the highest-paid coach in the NHL, but sets an unprecedented ceiling for coaches' salaries in the league.

It's a rising tide that floats all boats for his brethren.

"I'm sure he got lots of thank-you notes from his peers," player agent J.P. Barry told The Canadian Press on Thursday when the Leafs held a news conference to introduce Babcock.

Montreal lightweight fights on UFC mega-card

Montreal's John Makdessi looks to make most of high-profile bout at UFC 187
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Montreal lightweight John (The Bull) Makdessi will be in select company Saturday at UFC 187.

The main card of the Las Vegas show features two title fights, four current or former champions and three others who have fought for the title.

Makdessi (12-3) is right in the thick of it after stepping in for the injured Khabib Nurmagomedov, ranked second among lightweight contenders, in late April to face No. 3 Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone (27-6 with one no contest).

Eugene Melnyk doing well after liver transplant

Sens owner Eugene Melnyk doing well after liver transplant, donor too: doctors
Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is recovering well after his liver transplant Tuesday at a Toronto hospital — and all his anonymous donor wants in return is for the Stanley Cup to be brought home by the Canadian hockey team.

Dr. Atul Humar, director of the multi-organ transplant program at University Health Network, told a news conference Thursday that the 55-year-old Melnyk remains in the intensive care unit but had been awake, smiling and answering questions earlier in the morning.

Pan Am organizers to fetch flame from Mexico

Pan Am organizers head to Mexico to bring back flame for cross-Canada relay
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Organizers for this summer's Pan Am Games are heading to Mexico to fetch the flame that will be carried across Canada in the days leading up to the international competition.

The chair of the organizing committee says the flame will be lit Monday at the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, before it is transported to Canada.

David Peterson says the flame will arrive in Toronto on May 30, when it will begin its 41-day journey across more than 130 communities.

The quotable Mike Babcock

The quotable Mike Babcock from introduction as Maple Leafs coach
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - The best of what Mike Babcock had to say on the day he was introduced as Toronto Maple Leafs coach:

"I've had a lot of opportunity to coach Canada's teams and enjoyed that immensely. Whether you believe it or not, I believe this is Canada's team and we need to put Canada's team back on the map."

On leaving the Detroit Red Wings

"Ken Holland, he's a great man and good friend of mine. It was very emotional: I had to get the Kleenex box out when I sat in his office there because of what he's done for me."

On the challenge of the Leafs' rebuild

Raonic withdraws from French Open

Injured Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic withdraws from French Open
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic has withdrawn form the French Open, saying he hasn't recovered from foot surgery in time to participate in the second Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Raonic, who is ranked sixth on the ATP Tour, underwent surgery eight days ago to repair a pinched nerve in his right foot suffered at the Madrid Open. The injury forced him to miss last week's tournament in Rome.

The French Open begins on Sunday.

'Canada's team' comment sparks outrage

Leafs coach Babcock stirs hornet's nest with 'Canada's team' comments
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Canadians can get touchy when one NHL franchise is anointed as "Canada's team," as incoming Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock found out on Thursday.

"Whether you believe it or not, I believe this is Canada's team and we need to put Canada's team back on the map," Babcock told a buzzing media contingent at Air Canada Centre on Thursday while accepting the job as the 30th head coach in Maple Leafs history.

It was one seemingly innocuous comment at the beginning of a lengthy news conference, but it certainly touched a nerve.

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