The Lou Marsh co-winners are both unique
They're the first male soccer player and first true NFLer to win it
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Alphonso Davies and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif won the Lou Marsh Trophy
Each guy got 18 votes from the group of (mostly Toronto-based) sports-media veterans tasked with picking the Canadian athlete of the year. This is only the third tie in the eight-decade-plus history of the award. It also happened in 1978 (swimmer Graham Smith and alpine skier Ken Read) and 1983 (Wayne Gretzky and wheelchair racer Rick Hansen). The deadlock was a big contrast from last year, when Bianca Andreescu was a unanimous (and extremely obvious) choice.
Davies, a 20-year-old from Edmonton, had a phenomenal year with the German soccer power Bayern Munich. He was named the top rookie in the Bundesliga, which is one of the best leagues in the world, and played a key role in Bayern's winning both the German league and UEFA Champions League titles. With the latter, he became the first player from the Canadian men's national team to win soccer's most prestigious club competition. Along the way, Davies established himself as one of the most exciting young players in the sport. His astonishing effort to set up a goal in Bayern's Champions League quarter-final win over Barcelona is one of the top soccer highlights of 2020.
Duvernay-Tardif, a 29-year-old from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., won the Super Bowl as a starting offensive lineman for Kansas City. He did a fine job of protecting MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but Duvernay-Tardif won a share of the Lou Marsh because of his work off the field. The McGill University medical-school graduate volunteered in a Quebec long-term care home at the height of the pandemic's first wave. He then opted out of the 2020 NFL season, foregoing a multi-million-dollar salary, and is currently continuing his medical training.
Both picks are unprecedented in a way. Davies is the first male soccer player to win the Lou Marsh and only the second person from his sport, following Christine Sinclair in 2012. Duvernay-Tardif is the first true NFL player to win it. Joe Krol, who won in 1946, had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Lions two years prior, but he got the Lou Marsh because of his work for the Toronto Argonauts. The last football player to win the award was CFL running back Jon Cornish in 2013.
The five finalists this year also included NBA guard Jamal Murray, who went on a magical run in the playoffs for the Denver Nuggets, and two members of the Canadian women's soccer team. Kadeisha Buchanan won the Women's Champions League title for the fourth consecutive year as a starter for the French club Lyon. And, way back in January, Sinclair became international soccer's all-time leading scorer when she potted her 185th goal during an Olympic qualifier.
There might have been several more strong female candidates had the Tokyo Olympics not been postponed. Swimmer Kylie Masse is favoured to win gold in the 100-metre backstroke and could leave Tokyo with multiple medals. Canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe is favoured for gold in two races. And Buchanan and Sinclair have a chance to earn, respectively, their second and third Olympic medals. So next year could be the year for any of those athletes. Read more about this year's co-winners here.
No shenanigans will be tolerated in the curling bubble. Curling Canada produced two nearly-40-page documents outlining the protocols for the Scotties, Brier, men's world championship, mixed doubles national championship and two Grand Slam events it hopes to stage in a controlled environment in Calgary in 2021. CBC Sports' Devin Heroux got a hold of the pages and they outline harsh penalties for anyone who breaks the rules. Most striking: any curler or coach in the Brier or Scotties who leaves the bubble without clearance, or invites an unauthorized person in, will be kicked out of the tournament and suspended from competition until July 2022. This would make them ineligible to compete for a spot in the '22 Winter Olympics. Read more about the protocols in this story by Devin.
We're getting closer to an NHL season. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported last night that the league and the players' association have agreed to stick to the economic points of the deal they struck over the summer. So it appears the owners have given up on getting the players to defer more of their salaries for this season to help defray the losses caused by the pandemic. According to Friedman, talks have now shifted to the nuts and bolts of how the season will work — the schedule, playoff format, divisional realignment, training camps, coronavirus testing, etc. The most likely outcome, according to multiple reports, is a 56-game regular season starting Jan. 13.
The Canadian national junior hockey team is practising again. The squad completed the 14-day quarantine required by the Alberta government after two players tested positive for the coronavirus on Nov. 24, allowing for a return to the ice today at its training camp in Red Deer. The world junior championship is scheduled to open Christmas Day in Edmonton, and Canada is expected to finalize its roster by Friday. TSN's Bob McKenize reported that the two players who tested positive were cut from camp, along with three others. The German and Swedish teams are also dealing with outbreaks that caused them to release players who tested positive. Read more about the Canadian team's return to the ice here.
The subject of one of the best sports magazine covers died. Dick Allen hit 351 career home runs and won the American League MVP award with the Chicago White Sox in 1972, when he led the AL in homers (37), RBIs (113) and walks (99). He was also the National League rookie of the year in 1964, when he hit 29 homers and led the majors in triples with 13. But Allen, who died yesterday at 78, is best known to some as the guy simultaneously juggling and smoking on the cover of the June 12, 1972 edition of Sports Illustrated:
RIP dude of dudes. <a href="https://t.co/2NOO91AJEn">pic.twitter.com/2NOO91AJEn</a>—@BattingStanceG
It's the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's death. Let's honour him with the best sports-related Beatles photo ever taken:
Muhammad Ali and The Beatles, 1964. Photo by Chris Smith. <a href="https://t.co/XNuKJtAELA">pic.twitter.com/XNuKJtAELA</a>—@crockpics
The award for Most Canadian Typo of the Year goes to… Me, for this gem in yesterday's newsletter:
Floyd Mayweather is going to fight another guy who really shouldn't be fighting him. Three and a half years after beating UFC star Conor McDavid...
Ouch. That should have been Conor McGregor, of course. Sorry about that. And thanks to those who wrote in to point out the error. The best barb came from a reader who joked: "Perhaps Floyd Mayweather will next battle WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin Matthews." Well done, sir.
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