John Mitchell has been sidelined for 4-6 weeks after sustaining a knee injury in Sunday’s practice. With Mike Brown eyeing a return next week, this likely means an extended stay with the big club for one of Joey Crabb or Darryl Boyce. Crabb has four assists in six appearances with the Leafs and Darryl Boyce has a goal and an assist in three games played; Mitchell has 3 points in 23 games this season.

Speaking of Brown, rumours of a three-year, $2.65 million (875k per) contract extension surfaced this evening courtesy of Andy Strickland. Brian Burke tells Maple Leafs Hot Stove the reports are “untrue,” meaning no deal is done as of now. Brown’s quick rise to fan favourite status for his embodiment of truculence and whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude – be it dropping the gloves or blocking consecutive shots until your hand breaks – would suggest an extension is in the plans sooner or later.

Of course, the eyes of the nation are not on the Mitchell injury or possible Mike Brown extension but tonight’s gold medal match up between Canada and Russia in Buffalo. This is the seventh time Canada and Russia have met in the gold medal game at the World Juniors, with the two sides splitting the prior six down the middle at three golds apiece. Canada has won the last three gold medal meetings with the Russians and look to gain the all-time tournament edge tonight. Consider this your game thread.