TSN's Dave Hodge sounds off on all the hockey issues of the day in Hodgemail. Write in to answer Dave's weekly question and watch the NHL on TSN tonight to see if he reads your response.
Each was a winning moment with a uniquely Canadian spin.
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia's Sidney Crosby etched his name into national hockey folklore by scoring the gold medal-winning goal in overtime at the Vancouver Olympics as 22 million Canadians watched. Crosby also scored an NHL-leading 51 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins to capture a share of the Rocket Richard Award.
And Winnipeg's Jonathan Toews produced nothing short of a dream year. Already a winner of Olympic gold alongside Crosby four months earlier, he lifted the Stanley Cup as captain of the Chicago Blackhawks and was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
So who is hockey's candidate for Canada's athlete of the year?
And how would he compare to other names that shone under the spotlight in 2010?
There's Toronto's Joey Votto. In just his third full season in the majors, he was crowned Most Valuable Player of the National League nearly unanimously after a superb season with Cincinnati.
There are other contenders, too. Olympic gold medallists Alexandre Bilodeau, Charles Hamelin, Jasey-Jay Anderson, and Jon Montgomery all achieved their greatest individual triumphs on home soil in Vancouver. Maelle Ricker became the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home soil. And who could forget the emotional performance by Joanie Rochette?
Other candidates could be tennis doubles specialist Daniel Nestor (along with partner Nenad Zimonjic), who won seven titles, including the French Open. In mixed martial arts, Georges St-Pierre dominated his fights and continues to reign as the UFC's welterweight champion. And in the CFL, Saskatchewan's Andy Fantuz led the league in pass receiving and was honoured with the Most Outstanding Canadian award.
Canadians continue to excel at the top of their sports, and now it's time for you to decide who had the best year of them all.
The Golden Goal or a gold medal and the Stanley Cup? And how does that compare to everyone else? The choice is yours.
So here was Dave's question to you: "Who is your choice for Canada's athlete of the year in 2010?"
And here are the answers that Dave liked best:
"Gotta be Toews. He wins gold, is voted top forward at the Olympics, wins the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy. How do you beat that?" wonders Craig in Toronto.
Andreas in North Vancouver writes: "Sid the Kid won it last year. This year, it goes to Sid the Man!"
Blair in Windsor, ON says: "Joey Votto makes the all-star team, leads Cincinnati to the playoffs and wins MVP honours in the National League. Canada's hat is off to Joey."
Derrick in St. John's, NF writes: "GSP (Georges St. Pierre). One of the planet's truly elite athletes and he's able to carry himself with dignity in a world of barbarians."
Scott in Montreal says: "Many Canadians shone brightly, but no one else did it while dealing with the emotions that were part of Joannie Rochette's stirring and unforgettable Olympic performance."
Dave's reply to all:
I find this hard to say with what Sidney Crosby is doing on the ice these days, but I think he's something of a longshot in this contest. One reason is Jonathan Toews.
It's hard to ignore all his hardware, but Toews is a longshot, too, because the hockey vote is bound to be split, and the Olympians from the other sports face the same problem. You can pick one baseball player, Joey Votto. You can pick one fighter, or whatever it is I'm supposed to call Georges St-Pierre. I can hear it now that you can't pick Crosby, because he's the so-called "easy" choice. But apart from all the points he scored for Pittsburgh, his trump card is the golden goal he scored for Canada. Many years from now, 2010 will have Crosby's name above all the others for that reason alone. When Crosby retires, 2010 is liable to be the year for which he is remembered most. Ironically, it might be the year somebody else is named Canada's top athlete.