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Daily Cupcakes December 8th, 2011

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Graham James just pled guilty to the sexual assault cases.

Disgraced junior hockey coach Graham James, among the most reviled figures in Canadian hockey, admitted Wednesday that he repeatedly sexually assaulted two of the young players he once mentored — including retired NHL superstar Theoren Fleury.

James — his heft diminished and his grey hair cropped close — appeared via video link in a Winnipeg courtroom looking nothing like the rotund, animated man who once stalked the bench behind the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

Though he had been facing nine charges of sexual assault involving three players dating back to between 1979 and 1994, James only pleaded guilty to charges involving Fleury and another victim, whose name remains under a court-ordered publication ban.

James pleaded guilty in 1997 to 350 counts of sexual abuse against two other players, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, whose decision to go public helped to lay bare the scandal. James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

A preview of the Colorado Avalanche - Calgary Flames game.

After putting together their first winning streak in two months, the Colorado Avalanche took a step back in their last game. Bouncing back from their most lopsided defeat of the season doesn't look like it will be easy.

At the Saddledome on Thursday night, the Avalanche try to avoid a losing a ninth straight game to a Calgary Flames team coming off its highest-scoring effort of the season.

After concluding a franchise-long eight-game homestand with three consecutive victories, Colorado (13-14-1) opened a three-game trip with Tuesday's 6-0 loss to Vancouver. The Avs outshot the Canucks 33-23 and had five power-play opportunities - their most in eight games - but couldn't capitalize.

Another story about James.

Revelations in 2010 that James received the pardon prompted the federal government to introduce changes to pardon eligibility in its omnibus crime bill that cleared the House of Commons Monday.

Anyone convicted of certain sex offences involving minors or anyone convicted of more than three indictable offences would be ineligible for pardons, which under the new law would be called "record suspensions."

After James was released, he was reported to be living in Spain and in Montreal, and media tracked him to Guadalajara, Mexico in 2010. He returned to Canada in October 2010, surrendering to Winnipeg police at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to face charges stemming from Fleury’s complaint.