I Don't Like Mondays — December 21, 2015
We’d be less than honest if we said that were were all, “Hell, yes!” when we heard Carey Price had won the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s athlete of the year. First, year-end awards tend to arrive rather unexpectedly, like a Justin Trudeau selfie, before we have time to think, “Do we really want to talk about this now?”
Second, the Lou Marsh tends to be skewed toward the East, seeing as how it’s named after a former sports editor of the Toronto Star. It was worse in the past, but it’s still biased to what happens in the Eastern time zone.
But after giving the matter some thought since last week, I’m still not sure I endorse the selection of the Montreal Canadiens star goalie. His credentials are undeniable. Winner of the 2015 Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP and Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie. He was a major reason Montreal was a successful team.
But Montreal wasn’t that successful. Price didn’t lead them to a championship (the Habs didn’t even make the Stanley Cup final series). For much of the second half of 2015 he’s been hurt. And let’s face it, there’s an MVP every year in the NHL. What makes Price’s Hart Trophy more memorable than Sidney Crosby’s or Corey Perry’s?
So who else deserves it as much? I’d certainly have made arguments for a number of other deserving Canadians in what was a deep year for talent. Foremost would have been Andrew Wiggins, the dynamic young forward for the Minnesota T-Wolves who was voted NBA Rookie of the Year. While Price is a Canadian in a league that is still almost half Canadian, Wiggins, who averaged over 20 points a game, was a star in the most international league you can have in North America.
As well, I’d have made a strong case for hoops star Kia Nurse who scored 33 points to lead Canada to gold in the Pan Am final and who was MVP of Olympic qualifying tournament, with 20 points in the gold-medal game. And another young woman, 16-year-old Brooke Henderson did something no Canadian woman had done in a while: she won on the LPGA Tour as well as many other terrific finishes as a phenom.
The Toronto Blue Jays became THE thing in Canada from July to October, and Canadian catcher Russell Martin was a large part of that success. He hit 23 homers and managed a patchwork pitching staff to the AL Championship series. He was the symbol of baseball in the country the whole season. Plus his father played 'O Canada' on the saxophone before one game.
There were so many brilliant athletics performances at the World Championships — Derek Drouin’s gold in high jump, Shawn Barber’s gold in pole vault, Damian Warner the silver in decathlon, Melissa Bishop’s silver in the 800 metres, Brianne Theissen-Eaton with silver in heptathlon, André DeGrasse’s bronze in the 100 metres and 4 X 100 mens relay — that would have won this award in the past. We’ll make them the Team of the Year in Canadian Sport.
Then there was legendary moguls hero Michael Kingsbury who won gold at world championships in dual moguls, silver at world championships in moguls, won his fourth straight World Cup moguls season title while becoming all-time leader in World Cup moguls/dual moguls wins.
Here’s how my ballot would have read: 1. Andrew Wiggins 2. Russell Martin 3. Carey Price 4. Kia Nurse 5. Brooke Henderson. As I say, an embarrassment of riches. But just wait till we tote up 2016, an Olympic year and a World Cup off Hockey tournament.
During Sunday’s marathon of NFL games, one of the TV analysts, exasperated at another endless conclave of referees over a video review, spoke for many when he said he had reached the breaking point. “We need to go back to letting the refs on the field call things again,” he sighed. IDLM knows how he feels.
We saw this nostalgia in the World Series when Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who now performs a number of odd jobs with MLB, complained that getting a call right when players overslide the base was un-American or something. If I can reduce Joe’s logic to a sentence: We’ve always gotten this call wrong in the past so why start correcting things now — and delaying games?
Except… the tooth paste is out of the tube, isn’t it? How are you going to keep the call down on the field after they’ve seen Mike Pereira? The moment a video review revealed that NFL, MLB or NHL referees are something less than fallible, going back to the old ways became moot. We have finally lived long enough to regret what we asked for.
Sure, spoofing video reviews makes for funny Discount Double Check commercials with Aaron Rodgers. But video will rule the future of pro sports. Viewers, bettors and coaches will allow for nothing else. So Joe Torre can lament getting it wrong all he wants. “Upon further review” the forensic formula is upon us.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @NPBroadcaster