An interesting choice for Canadian athlete of the year
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Mikael Kingsbury won the Lou Marsh Trophy
The Olympic moguls champion was chosen as Canada's top athlete of the year by a committee of sports-media people from around the country that gathered in Toronto. Marsh was a longtime sports editor for the Toronto Star, and the voting is held at the paper's downtown office.
Kingsbury is an interesting pick. The 26-year-old is the best ever in his sport and he had a great calendar year. Besides the Olympic gold, he also broke the all-time record for World Cup moguls wins and captured his seventh season-long points title — another record. But he's not exactly a household name and he wasn't Canada's biggest star of the 2018 Olympics. That would be Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. But the ice dance gold medallists became ineligible when the voters decided to only consider individual athletes this year. Three duos have won the Lou Marsh in the past — two in figure skating, one in rowing.
The other finalists were golfer Brooke Henderson, curler Kaitlyn Lawes, figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond and NHL star Connor McDavid. Henderson would have been my pick. I prefer Winter Olympians in Winter Olympic years, but if you rule out Virtue and Moir then Henderson is the best choice. The 21-year-old golfer competes in a sport that's much more widely played than Kingsbury's and she thrived this year — Henderson finished second in the LPGA Tour's season-long points race and won two tournaments. That included the signature victory of her career at the CP Women's Open in Regina, where she became the first Canadian woman in 45 years to win her national golf championship.
The NHL is experimenting with colour-changing pucks again. From the league that brought you the infamous "FoxTrax" puck that glowed blue or red to help (American) TV viewers follow it comes this latest innovation. For the upcoming Winter Classic game on New Year's Day, the pucks will have a special coating that changes the colour of the NHL logo from purple to white when the puck's temperature rises above freezing. It's important to keep pucks cold so they glide better, and the league says this will help referees decide when to bring in a new one. But this raises the same question as those beer cans with the mountains that change colour: can't you just, like, feel them with your hands?
Bob Cole will now call his final NHL game on April 6. It was originally Dec. 22, but Sportsnet announced today it's adding six games to Cole's 50th and final season of play-by-play on Hockey Night in Canada (Sportsnet produces all Hockey Night games, even though some of them are still broadcast on the CBC). The matchup for Cole's farewell is a fitting one — Toronto vs. Montreal.
The CFL's head coaching ranks just got a lot more diverse. DeVone Claybrooks accepted the job today with the B.C. Lions, making him the third African-American hired to lead a CFL team in about a week. He joins Orlondo Steinauer (Hamilton) and Corey Chamblin (Toronto). That gives the CFL three black head coaches in a nine-team league. The NFL has only six in a 32-team league. That's 19 per cent. About 70 per cent of NFL players are black.
The Blue Jays cut Troy Tulowitzki. Expectations were high for the slugging shortstop when Toronto traded for him to bolster a run at the World Series in 2015. But the Jays fell short that year and the next, and the oft-injured Tulowitzki's play tailed off. The 34-year-old missed all of 2018 after having surgery on both feet during spring training.
Steven Stamkos and the Lightning are on fire. Tampa Bay won its seventh in a row last night to open up a massive eight-point lead over Toronto for the best record in the NHL. To put that gap in perspective, it's larger than the one separating Toronto from 16th-place Edmonton. Stamkos' hat trick gave him five goals in his last two games and raised his career points total to 701 in only 696 regular-season contests. Here's a trivia question to ask a hockey fan in your life: Who are the only four active players with a minimum of 500 points who have more points per game than Stamkos? Answer: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane. Crosby's rate of 1.29 is actually the sixth-best of all time.
A lacrosse team made fun of the Baby, It's Cold Outside controversy. The old Christmas standard was dropped from a lot of playlists recently after some people complained that a few of the lyrics might be a little dicey in the post-#MeToo era. That didn't stop the Saskatchewan Rush from playing the song during a stoppage while players milled around the team bench holding fake newspapers with the headline "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (weird top story, but alright). The team's owner said he wanted to poke fun at the controversy.
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