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Superstar talent ignited spirited Lou Marsh debate

As I left the publisher’s boardroom at the Toronto Star, I felt almost giddy and so, I’m positive, did most of the others.

Thirty of us in the sports media, writers, broadcasters, editors, and even some management folks, gathered to hash out the winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year for 2015.

I can’t remember a year when we had so much to work with, so much to debate and discuss, indeed so much to quibble about. In the end, we were left with an embarrassment of riches.

Carey Price, the outstanding goaltender with the Montreal Canadiens, eventually won the poll, and no one could dispute that he was deserving of the honour. Here was the NHL’s most valuable player and dominant performer as selected by media, management and his peers, adding yet another accolade to his impressive litany of laurels. 

He is a beloved player in a favourite game, justifiably adored by his many fans because of his brilliance on the field of play and his dignity and generosity off it.

Carey Price is only the second hockey player in the last 20 years to win the award. Sidney Crosby, a double recipient, (2007, 2009), being the other. And happily this speaks to the depth of talent this country boasts across the sporting landscape. 

We are not defined to be just a hockey nation.

Far from it, and while mentioning the names of other worthy contenders might get lengthy, it’s important to note that the roster included an NBA rookie of the year, seven world champions, a teenaged golf phenomenon, an accomplished member of the Toronto Blue Jays, another MVP candidate in Major League Baseball, not to mention the most prolific freestyle skier in the history of the sport

There was also a decathlete who managed to shatter a 19-year-old Canadian record in an exceedingly difficult discipline, a young sprinter who served notice he may be on the threshold of being the world’s fastest man, a female soccer player who led her team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and a basketball star who propelled Canada to an historic Pan Am Games gold medal in addition to Olympic qualification.

Worthy recipients

Also up for consideration was a wheelchair racer who won three gold medals at the Parapan Am Games and three more at the world championships. And there was a 41-year-old autistic power lifter from Newfoundland who won 13 gold medals over the course of his remarkable career, including three record-setting efforts at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer.

Our heads were spinning as we reflected on the contenders. It wasn’t so much an argument over the merits of the candidates which ensued, but rather an amazing enlightenment of difficult choices in the face of worthy recipients. 

Canada has a lot of superstars wearing its colours. 

They are people who practice a kaleidoscope of sports and represent a complexity of races, genders, faiths and also hail from every region of the country.

“I could fill out my ballot any one of six ways and still doubt myself,” said one member of the selection committee. “I just don’t know who to vote for,” marvelled another. “I’ve never seen a year like this,” remarked a third.

In the end, Price won and we’ll never know by how many votes. But as we all left the boardroom we did so in a celebratory mood. We were unanimously assured we’d picked a good one to win.

It’s been a banner year for Canadian sport on so many fronts and few can recall a sweeter Lou Marsh vote than this.

CBC | Sports News

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