A year of new faces, returning heroes, and that golden goal

Along with Crosby, a number of other former Newsmakers make their return to our list

A year of new faces, returning heroes, and that golden goal
Chris O'Meara/AP

How long does it take to be named Maclean’s Newsmaker of the Year?

For Sidney Crosby, it took about four seconds. That was all Crosby needed to beat Team U.S.A. defenceman Brian Rafalski to the puck along the boards, poke it to Team Canada teammate Jarome Iginla, break for the net, corral the give-and-go back from Iginla and shoot the puck underneath goaltender Ryan Miller’s outstretched stick and between his legs.

Crosby’s gold-medal-winning overtime goal was the perfect ending to a tremendously successful 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics—itself an event 14 years in the making, as Games organizing committee CEO John Furlong notes in this week’s Maclean’s Interview. The Games brought all Canadians together and were the capstone event of the year. We celebrated our ability to put on a show and proved we could compete against the best that the world has to offer. We demonstrated our organizational skills and hosting talents, as well as a fiercely competitive streak that, as a nation, we often keep under wraps. We mourned as a nation with figure skater Joannie Rochette over the death of her mother, Thérèse, and marvelled at her courageous bronze-medal performance, the epitome of grace under pressure.

Canada’s tally of 14 gold medals echoes still as an amazing accomplishment: the most ever by a single nation at a Winter Olympics. The haul included freestyle skiing, snowboard, bobsleigh, skeleton, ice dance, speed skating and curling. Our women’s hockey team easily defended its gold medal while the men’s hockey team took an entire nation on a roller coaster ride, barely edging past Switzerland and then losing to the U.S. in round-robin play before running the table in the playoffs—which brings us back to Sid the Kid’s amazing overtime winner.

Of course there’s much more to Crosby’s accomplishments than that single four-second burst of skill, speed and strength on the ice. In our very first Newsmakers of the Year issue in 2005, Crosby—in the midst of his rookie NHL season—earned himself an honourable mention behind winner governor general Michaëlle Jean and runner-up chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier. Even then, at such an early point in his career, it was obvious great things awaited him.

Along with Crosby, a number of other former Newsmakers make their return to our list.

In 1978, Maclean’s predicted that Conrad Black’s future would be “fascinating to watch.” Not surprisingly, his guilty verdict on fraud and obstruction charges earned him our 2007 Newsmaker of the Year. With his successful legal appeal this year, he’s still making news. Also returning is U.S. President Barack Obama, although this year has proven to be much different from 2008, when he went from relative obscurity to the most powerful man on the planet and a Nobel Prize winner. Now he’s making news because of America’s continuing economic woes and the “shellacking” the Democrats received in the mid-term elections. And Jean, our inaugural Newsmaker of the Year, makes a second appearance, this time in recognition of her graceful exit and her legacy of comfort to those less fortunate in Canada, Haiti and elsewhere.

There’s no shortage of new entrants to our Newsmaker honour roll. British Prime Minister David Cameron is proving to be the bravest of a new generation of politicians: those facing the difficult task of unwinding an untenable welfare state in the midst of an economic crisis. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s new president, represents another important changing of the guard. She’s now the third woman to win power in South America in recent years. Aung San Suu Kyi merits mention as the stoic and inspiring leader of the Burmese freedom movement. And the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton has Canadians looking past Prince Charles to a fully modern monarchy.

On the lighter side, we welcome Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber to our annual honour roll. Will we be feting him in another five years? Stay tuned. Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg represents the centrality of technology, communications and entertainment in our lives. And this season seems the perfect time to reflect on the charity of Allen and Violet Large, the retired Nova Scotians who won $11 million in the lottery and promptly gave 98 per cent of it away, as well as the miraculous story of the Chilean miners.

Finally, December has always been a time for traditions. And along with publishing our annual Newsmakers issue, it’s also a tradition at Maclean’s to recognize those who have contributed to this special project. Besides the credited writers and photographers Team Newsmakers includes: Dianna Symonds, Sarmishta Subramanian, Patricia Treble, Kate Fillion, Stephen Gregory, Andrew Tolson, Adam Cholewa, Brad Reinhardt, Lauren Cattermole, Joe Power, Joan Antonio, Richard Redditt, Andre Singh, Melody Tolson, Lindsay Murrell and Jenna Wakani. This issue is bigger and better than ever, thanks to them.