Sidney Crosby was named The Canadian Press male athlete of the year Wednesday.
The Cole Harbour, N.S., native was the runaway winner of the Lionel Conacher Award in a poll of sports editors and broadcasters across the country. He's the first hockey player to capture the honour since former Penguins star Mario Lemieux won in 1993.
"I'm definitely proud to be Canadian and I realize that there's a lot of great Canadian athletes, so to be considered athlete of the year is quite an honour," Crosby said in an interview. "It's special. I don't take it for granted whatsoever."
The honour caps a year thatincluded a Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP, the Pearson Award as the league's outstanding player according to his peers and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion.
Crosby also won the Toronto Star's Lou Marsh Award as Canada's outstanding athlete earlier this month and CBCSports.ca top honour as well.
Crosby received 58 first-place votes for 247 total points in voting for the Conacher Award, named for the all-rounder who was voted Canada's athlete of the first half-century in 1950.
NBA star Steve Nash, the winner in 2005 and 2006, was second with 17 first-place votes and 122 points while Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis was third with seven first-place votes for 50 points.
The female athlete of the year will be announced Thursday while the team of the year will be revealed Friday.
In addition to his win in '93, Lemieux also earned the honour in 1988. Lemieux now owns the Penguins and Crosby has lived with him and his family since joining the team in 2005.
"I've seen his award," said Crosby. "Just to be able to follow behind him is certainly something to be proud of."
Crosby scored 36 goals and amassed a league-best 120 points to win the Art Ross Trophy. He was the youngest player in any of the major pro sports to win his league's scoring title.
He was also the youngest player since Wayne Gretzky in 1980 to win the Hart Trophy. He was only the seventh player in NHL history to achieve the Ross-Hart-Pearson sweep for individual performance.
More importantly to Crosby, his Penguins qualified for the playoffs for the first time in five years. Ottawa knocked them out in a five-game first round, but it was a building block for the young team.
Crosby, now captain of the Penguins, signed a $43.5-million, five-year extension last July that averages out to $8.7 million a year, a payout similar tothe No. 87 sweater the superstitious centre wears.