Canadian Press names Sidney Crosby its male athlete of the year

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The Canadian Press named Sidney Crosby its male athlete of the year, making it the third time the 23-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins center managed to earn that honor. Crosby joins Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard as the only hockey players to earn the Lionel Conacher Award at least three times.

Major League Baseball’s National League MVP Joey Votto finished second in the voting. Crosby earned 162 votes (38 first place selections) while Votto received 126 votes (and 22 first place selections).

Of course, many will wonder if Crosby was even the best Canadian hockey player of the year. Jonathan Toews had quite the 2010 too. He also earned a gold medal with Team Canada while being named one of the tournament’s best players, then won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy to boot.

So what kind of full year – counting games from the 2009-10 and 09-10 seasons that fell under the 2010 calendar year, the Olympics and the playoffs – did Crosby actually have? I put together his stats from game logs and other stats at Hockey Reference.com to come up with this rundown. I’ll thrown in some individual accomplishments to boot.

  • Of course, he scored the overtime game-winner that earned Team Canada the gold medal, the main reason he earned this award.
  • He shared the Maurice Richard Trophy with Steven Stamkos for total goals in the 09-10 season.
  • Obviously, there’s that 25-game point scoring streak that just concluded with 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points.
  • So far in 10-11, he scored 32 goals and 33 assists for 65 points in 39 games.
  • In the 41 games he played from the 09-10 season this year, he scored 28 goals and 33 assists for 61 points. So in 82 regular season games for 2010 between the two chunks of seasons, he scored a whopping 60 goals and 65 assists for 125 points. Wow.
  • In 13 playoff games, he scored six goals and 13 assists for 19 points.
  • Many say he didn’t do much aside from scoring that OT GWG in the Olympics, but he still scored four goals and three assists for seven points in seven games. Then again, compared to his other stats, he was a downright slacker.

Looking at that list of numbers and accomplishments, it’s hard to deny that Crosby had the best year of any Canadian athlete. Here is a little more about his award winning turn via TSN.

The golden goal had such an impact that it has earned Crosby the Lionel Conacher Award as The Canadian Press male athlete of the year for the third time in four years.

He previously topped the annual poll of the country’s newsrooms after significant achievements that were months in the making — winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2007 and leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009. His third award comes in recognition of a magical moment where he seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“That’s the big thing that sticks out to me,” Crosby said in an interview. “Obviously, that goal and the Olympic Games themselves. That was a pretty unique experience. To have it in Canada and to play hockey and represent your country in a sport that everybody is so passionate about, it was pretty special.”

Congratulations to Crosby on an outstanding year. The question is: how will he top it in 2011?

Andrei Vasilevskiy robs Evgeny Kuznetsov (Video)

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Surely, the Washington Capitals should be leading Game 6.

They came out on fire, led by Alex Ovechkin, and stayed that way throughout the first period.

Their only problem? Andrei Vasilevskiy and the wall he put up.

Vasilevskiy needed to be solid to stop on the Capitals’ onslaught and he was, write down to the final moments of the period and his best save, a sprawling glove-hand effort to stop Evgeny Kuznetsov in his tracks on the doorstep to keep the game tied 1-1.

Fatigued? Vasilevskiy wasn’t showing any of that in the first period.

After two sub .850 outings in Games 1 and 2, Vasilevskiy has stormed back to spark the Lightning to three straight wins behind his strong play.

• Stream here
Series preview
Capitals vs. Lightning: Three questions facing each team

Capitals have to conquer postseason demons one more time
Lightning ready for a ‘desperate’ Capitals team in Game 6
Vasilevskiy turns East final around for Lightning

MORE:
Conference Finals schedule, TV info
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Lightning seek Stanley Cup Final berth in Game 6

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Game 6: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (Lightning lead series 3-2)
NBCSN
Call: Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire
• Stream here
Series preview
Capitals vs. Lightning: Three questions facing each team

Capitals have to conquer postseason demons one more time
Lightning ready for a ‘desperate’ Capitals team in Game 6
Vasilevskiy turns East final around for Lightning

MORE:
Conference Finals schedule, TV info
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

Paul Fenton hired as new Minnesota Wild GM

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Almost exactly one month after firing Chuck Fletcher, the Minnesota Wild have found his replacement as general manager. During a Tuesday press conference, the franchise will introduce Paul Fenton as the man who will take over the job.

Fenton, who was the first person owner Craig Leipold interviewed last month, will also oversee the team’s hockey operations department and act as alternate governor

“It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Paul Fenton as the General Manager of the Minnesota Wild,” said Leipold in a statement. “Paul is uniquely suited for this job having played 10 years of professional hockey and holding 25 years of management experience in the NHL. His gift of evaluating talent is obvious in Nashville’s roster and recent success. My relationship with Paul goes back to my early days in Nashville and I know that Wild hockey fans are going to love Paul’s infectious passion for the game and unsurpassed work ethic. He’s the right person to deliver a Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey.”

It took a while — 20 years to be exact — but Fenton finally decided to leave the Nashville Predators where he spent the last dozen years as the team’s assistant GM. He played a role in building that franchise into a Stanley Cup contender and turning around their minor league system. Now in Minnesota he’ll have his work cut out for him.

The Wild made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past six seasons, but could not get past the second round. This spring they were knocked out in the first round for the third straight season, costing Fletcher his job after nine years.

Fenton will have to deal with restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Mathew Dumba with this summer, as well as face plenty of challenges in carving his roster into something that could look like a perennial contender. The long-term, cap space-eating contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter won’t help things. According to Cap Friendly, the Wild have about $7.5 million in cap space for next season, and that’s before new deals for Zucker and Dumba and potentially a $3 million increase in the ceiling.

“We want to win a Stanley Cup,” Leipold said last month via the Pioneer Press after the Wild’s first-round exit. “That doesn’t mean that that’s going to be next year. I want someone to help me with a plan for the next three or four years to win a Stanley Cup. That’s what I’m looking for.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Islanders to hire Lou Lamoriello to run hockey operations: report

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It’s expected this week that the New York Islanders will officially announce the hiring of Lou Lamoriello to run their hockey operation department, according to Arthur Staple of The Athletic.

It’s unclear at the moment what specific role the 75-year-old Lamoriello will have within the organization. It’s possible he takes over the role of president of hockey operations or general manager, or potentially both. His son, Chris, is the Islanders’ assistant GM.

Last month, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Lamoriello would not return as their GM after three seasons at the helm.

Staple also confirmed a Hockey30 report that Lamoriello met with Islanders captain John Tavares last week ahead of this move. Tavares is set to become an unrestricted free agent only July 1.

There are many questions to be answered as we wait for the Islanders to announce this move. First, what does this mean for the beards of Nick Leddy and Andrew Ladd, as well as the mustache of Cal Clutterbuck?

Next, where does current GM Garth Snow stand? He’s been running the show since 2006 and has a contract for at least four more seasons. The team has made the playoffs only four times during his tenure and advanced out of the first round once. The fan base demanded change once this season went off the rails, with billboards purchased in Brooklyn calling for Snow’s firing. During an end-of-season press conference in April, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said Snow and head coach Doug Weight would be staying for now, but that he would be “evaluating all aspects of our hockey operations.”

The next question is the biggest and that has to do with Tavares. He’s said time and time again that he wants to re-sign, but hasn’t inked an extension and hasn’t given any indication what factors would sway him one way or the other. A new arena on Long Island is coming. But is this change in management and whatever Lamoriello told him in their chat enough to convince him to not explore free agency and commit to staying with the franchise? Only time will tell. But this change could be a good first step forward for the franchise.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.