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Above, Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant and the Grey Cup; left, Nadir Muhammed and Gary Bettman and their $5.4-billion handshake.<252>



Saskatchewan's home-town title

The CFL could not have scripted the end result any better with the Saskatchewan Roughriders delighting a frenzied and frigid hometown crowd of just under 45,000 with a 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 101st Grey Cup.

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The stands were awash in a sea of green in support of the Riders, who were spurred to victory by Kory Sheets. He set a Grey Cup record when he rambled for 197 yards and two touchdowns in Saskatchewan's convincing win.

Cornish wears crown

A member of the Calgary Stampeders, Cornish led the CFL in rushing with 1,813 yards, surpassing his own record for most rushing yards by a home-grown player.

The native of New Westminster, B.C., also led the league with 2,157 yards from scrimmage and scored 14 touchdowns that helped bolster his selection as the winner of the Lou Marsh award as Canada's top athlete. Not since Russ Jackson won the Lou Marsh in 1969 has a CFL player laid claim to the honour.

Rogers, NHL put a ring on it

It will mark a seismic shift in the way Canadians will consume hockey with November's announcement that Rogers Communications will be the NHL's exclusive broadcast and multimedia partner in this country, beginning for the 2014-15 season. Rogers paid dearly for the rights – $5.2-billion over the course of a 12-year agreement, the largest media-rights deal in NHL history. The CBC will now have to share Saturday's iconic Hockey Night in Canada stage with the people at Sportsnet, which is intending to flood coverage of the games across all of its platforms.

Old hands, new life

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While it came as a bit of a shock to the cities where they made their names, both Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla decided it was time to move on with their hockey lives.

First it was Iginla, the longtime fan favourite of the Calgary Flames, who agreed to waive his no-trade contract in March that allowed the Flames to trade him to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Penguins.

Iginla recorded 12 points in Pittsburgh's playoff run, which came to an abrupt end with four successive losses to Boston in the Eastern Conference final. In the off-season, Iginla signed as a free agent with Bruins.

In Ottawa, Alfredsson decided that after 17 seasons with the Senators a change of scenery was in order, signing a one-year, $5.5-million free-agent contract to play this season with the Detroit Red Wings.

Beautiful music at MLSE

Drastic times call for drastic measures and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. went all in in its desire to reverse the fortunes of its struggling sports enterprises, hiring Tim Leiweke to move from California to oversee the operations. Bryan Colangelo was soon relieved of his duties running the Toronto Raptors basketball team and replaced by Masai Ujiri, the reigning NBA executive of the year. International hip-hop star Drake was also brought on board by Leiweke – and not just to help out with the fortunes of the basketball team as the Raptors' global ambassador. Drake also reportedly whispered in the ear of Jermain Defoe to persuade the England and Spurs star striker that Toronto FC would be a good landing spot for his talents.

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NHL achieves labour peace

It was looking bleak early in the new year as the prolonged lockout that forced NHL players to the sidelines for the first three months of the regular season might result in the cancellation of the entire year. But negotiators on both sides emerged from a Manhattan hotel boardroom in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, following a marathon 16-hour bargaining session, to announce that a contract had been reached. A revised 48-game regular-season schedule was quickly drawn up and play resumed on Jan. 19. The fans rejoiced. Average attendance on the year was up 2.6 per cent from the previous season as the Chicago Blackhawks would go on to defeat the Bruins to win their second Stanley Cup title in four years.

Ujiri's magic touch

He was brought over from the Denver Nuggets with a reputation of being able to get things accomplished and so far Masai Ujiri has lived up to the promise with the Toronto Raptors. First he unloaded the seemingly unloadable Andrea Bargnani, the human turnstile, to the New York Knicks. Then Ujiri pulled off an even bigger shocker when he was able to foist the huge contract of Rudy Gay on the Sacramento Kings in another noteworthy deal. The trade helped clear some $12-million in salary-cap room for the Raptors next season as the GM continues his restructuring of a team that has missed the playoffs the past five season.

Canada's basketball punch

Considered by some to be one of the biggest talents to come along since LeBron James, Toronto native Andrew Wiggins is the consensus No.1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Should that happen it would mark the second consecutive year that a Canadian has topped the draft list as the Cleveland Cavaliers made Toronto's Anthony Bennett the first pick in 2013. Wiggins, who is 18, is now sharpening his skills as a freshman with the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA and shoe companies are already licking their chops. There are reports that a shoe deal worth in the neighbourhood of $180-million is awaiting the 6-foot-8 swingman.

Raonic serves notice

It was a great year for Canadian tennis, with 22-year-old Milos Raonic leading the way, becoming the first Canadian to crack the top 10 on the ATP World Tour. Raonic, who finished the season ranked 11th, won championships in San Jose and Bangkok and became the first Canadian to appear in the final of the Rogers Cup since 1958, losing in straight sets to Rafael Nadal in Montreal. Raonic also won the clinching matches for Canada during its stirring run to the semi-finals in David Cup play.

Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil also enjoyed a solid season, rising from 125 to No. 32 on the ATP rankings.


Leafs suffer epic collapse

So devastating was the moment that members of Leaf Nation will forever remember where they were the night of May 13 when the Toronto Maple Leafs coughed it up big time to the Boston Bruins. Up three goals with just 11 minutes to play in the deciding game of the opening-round playoff, the Bruins roared back to tie the game in regulation, sending it into overtime where Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston to eliminate Toronto. "That hockey game will haunt me until the day I die," Leaf forward Joffrey Lupul tweeted after the setback. He will not be alone.

Jays swing and miss

It was an off-season that began with so much promise for Canada's only Major League Baseball team, with the Blue Jays stunning observers with a series of bold moves that saw them land the likes of R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Melky Cabrera. A return to the playoffs for the first time since 1993 was just 162 games away according to the prevailing wisdom. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the victory parade. The Blue Jays were terrible. Their starting pitching never lived up to the hype and injuries to key players also helped derail the American League club. Instead of challenging for the pennant, the Blue Jays fell to the bottom of the A.L. East standing with a 74-88 record.

Canada gets iced

With the NHL locked in a lockout, Canadian hockey fans were turning their attention early in the new year to Canada's entry at the World junior hockey championships that was held in Russia. As usual, the Canadian entry came into the tournament with high hopes, with a lineup captained by Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and other blue chip NHL draft picks such as Griffin Reinhart and Morgan Rielly. But the Canadians stumbled, losing to the Americans in the semi-final before bowing 6-5 to the Russians in the bronze-medal game, snapping Canada's streak of medalling at 14 straight World Junior tournaments.

Burke gets axe

Less than a week after the NHL achieved labour peace with its players, the Maple Leafs made a move that shocked the hockey world, sacking Brian Burke as their president and general manager. Burke paid the price for not leading the Leafs into the playoffs in his roughly four years in charge where Toronto amassed a record of 129-135-42. Burke initially accepted a job as a senior advisor in the organization not related to hockey matters but that did not last long, quitting in September to become president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames. Earlier this month, Burke became the acting GM of the Flames after Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod were fired.

GSP walks away

A month after he retained his welterweight title in a controversial decision over Johny Hendricks in Las Vegas, Canadian Georges St-Pierre announced he was stepping away from fighting for an undetermined period of time. Citing personal issues that he refused to get into and a desire to try to return to living a normal life, St-Pierre has been the sport's reigning welterweight champion since 2008. "I need a break if I want to keep mental stability," St-Pierre said in making his retirement announcement. Just 32, St-Pierre left the door open to a comeback, vowing if he does he will "be at the top of the game."

Cycling champ admits doping

Ryder Hesjedal, the first Canadian to win one of cycling's grand tours, admitted to a past in which he used performance-enhancing drugs. The Victoria native said he used banned products, including EPO, dating back to the 2003 season when he was primarily known as a mountain bike competitor. The 33-year-old rode into prominence when he captured the 2012 Giro d'Italia, the first-ever Grand Tour victory by a Canadian.

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