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COACH ADMITS ILLITERACY: Jacques Demers, who coached the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1993 and was later a general manager in the NHL, admits in a newly released biography that he is illiterate.

"I could read a little bit but I can't write very well," Demers said at a party for the book's launch. "I took to protecting myself. You put a wall around yourself. And when I was given the possibility of talking, I could speak well, and I think that really saved me."

In the book "Jacques Demers: En Toutes Lettres," which roughly translates to "All Spelled Out," Demers said his inability to read and write was the result of an abusive and impoverished childhood.

Demers coached the Quebec Nordiques, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he was also general manager in the late 1990s.

WORKERS COMP RULING: A former minor-league hockey player who injured his shoulder in a fight he claimed his coach told him to start is entitled to workers compensation, a Virginia appeals court ruled.

The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld a Virginia Workers Compensation Commission finding that "fighting is an integral part of the game of hockey" and that Ty A. Jones' injury arose in the course of his employment as an "enforcer."

Jones' former team, the Norfolk Admirals, had argued that the fight amounted to willful misconduct.

L. Steven Emmert, a leading Virginia appellate attorney and hockey fan with no connection to the case, suggested the finding Tuesday was so obvious that it does not amount to much as a legal precedent.

"This court finds that fighting is an integral part of hockey," Emmert said. "Thirty million Canadians could have told you that." But he added: "Maybe clubs will be a little more careful about sending a goon — an enforcer — out to thunk somebody in the head."

ROBITAILLE INJURED: Los Angeles Kings left wing Luc Robitaille was expected to miss at least three weeks with a broken right ankle and was placed on the injured list Thursday.

The 39-year-old Robitaille hurt his ankle on Oct. 11 against Edmonton. Believing the injury was a sprain, he played seven more games before tests earlier this week revealed the fracture.

He has four goals and three assists in 11 games for the Kings this season. Robitaille needs just four goals to match Marcel Dionne's franchise record of 550.


GOODEN GETS PROBATION: Former baseball star Dwight Gooden was sentenced to three years' probation Thursday after pleading guilty to speeding away from police following a traffic stop last August.

The 40-year-old ex-pitcher will remain indefinitely at a drug treatment facility where he has spent the past month. Gooden pleaded guilty to a felony count of fleeing police, misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and obstruction and to an unrelated charge of hitting his girlfriend.

College football

CALLAHAN REPRIMANDED: Nebraska coach Bill Callahan was reprimanded by the Big 12 Conference on Thursday for making an apparent throat-slashing gesture after arguing with a referee during a game against Oklahoma.

Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said Callahan acted "out of character" and his behavior "constituted unsportsmanlike conduct."

"He has been very good to work with, and his sideline demeanor had been exemplary. I have great respect for him and understand that he was acting on emotion," Weiberg said. "However, the Big 12 and its member institutions place tremendous emphasis on the conference's sportsmanship policy."


RODDICK ADVANCES: Top-seeded Andy Roddick had 16 aces Thursday and routed Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty 6-1, 6-2 to reach the Paris Masters quarterfinals. Roddick will next play 10th-seeded David Ferrer, who defeated Tommy Haas 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3.


U.S. TO PLAY NORWAY: The U.S. soccer team will play an exhibition game against Norway on Jan. 29 at Carson, Calif. The game will be officially announced Monday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Thursday in an e-mail to fans announcing a presale of tickets for Nov. 7-9.

After playing at Scotland on Nov. 12, the U.S. team will break until Jan. 4, when it starts a training camp in Carson. While the United States has qualified for its fifth straight World Cup, Norway meets the Czech Republic on Nov. 12 and 16 in a playoff for a berth in the 32-nation field.