It ain't over 'til it's over.
Jonathan Toews, Tim McIsaac and Corey Koskie all came from behind on the final day of voting to win their first-round matchups in Sports Showdown, the Free Press sport department's March Madness-style bracket to determine who our readers believe is Manitoba's greatest athlete of all time.
To vote, visit Sports Showdown.
Voting begins every Friday at noon, and remains open until the following Thursday at noon. You can vote on each match once per day. The Super 16 pairings are available for voting until noon on May 28.
Thursday afternoon we’ll tally everything up and set up the eight winners for voting starting May 29.
Arguably, the most impressive comeback was pulled off by Chicago Blackhawks captain Toews, who trailed by more than a dozen tallies on Wednesday night.
But at Thursday's deadline, he finished with 54 more votes than Terry Sawchuk, the greatest goalie to come out of Manitoba. McIsaac, a paralympic swimmer, came away with 30 more votes than hockey star Jennifer Botterill, while Koskie, a Manitoba-born major-leaguer, escaped with a nine-vote advantage over golfer George Knudson.
The closest matchup was in the Bombers division where Chris Walby defeated Andrew Harris by only three votes to become the ultimate hometown Blue and Gold hero. If that doesn't prove every vote counts, then I don't know what does. The other Bombers winners — Milt Stegall, Ken Ploen and Doug Brown — led from start to finish.
While Walby barely scraped by, it was a completely different story for speedskater Cindy Klassen and speedskater/cyclist Clara Hughes in the Olympics division. Another speedskater, Susan Auch, is no slouch, but Klassen skated away with 330 more votes.
Hughes also won big as her 399 votes were second to only all-star NHL sniper Teemu Selanne, who led all athletes with 420. Selanne cruised to a 373-vote victory over former Jets centre Thomas Steen, the biggest margin of victory in the tournament.
Dale Hawerchuk and Anders Hedberg also came away with blowout victories, with Bobby Hull's 81-point advantage over Lars-Erik Sjoberg being the closest of the Jets matchups.
Now let's take a minute to address the elephant in the room. As we all know, the reason why Hull was taken to the limit in the first round (Sjoberg had an early lead at one point) likely had nothing to do with on-ice production. Trust me, I get it. You won't see me walking around in Hull's No. 9 jersey anytime soon.
But for every person that commented and tweeted saying it's a disgrace to include Hull in this, there were just as many folks out there telling me they don't think the Jets would be here today without him and they plan on voting for him to win over all the other Jets.
With there being so many people on both sides of the fence, it wouldn't be right to exclude Hull from the discussion. So with that, his fate is in your hands. Don't like him? Then don't vote for him. Still got love for The Golden Jet? Then vote for him. It's that simple.
While we're on the subject, Hull's inclusion isn't the only criticism being thrown at Sports Showdown. From "Where's Bobby Clarke?" to "Where's Waldo?", I've heard it all.
It's easy to throw out names, but not once has someone followed it up by saying which athlete they'd swap out for the one they're recommending. But I digress. The feedback is greatly appreciated, but with only 32 spots, not everyone could make the cut.
There have also been some people who have voiced their frustrations over the fact the Jets and Bombers were included in the first place. The decision was made to include the local pro teams as a way to represent all aspects of Manitoba sports.
If you disagree, I respect that. You're entitled to your own opinion. Just keep in mind, there won't be a statue erected in honour of whoever wins this, nor will they be receiving a cheque in the mail. This is just for fun, which is something I don't think any of us, regardless if you're a sports fan or not, have had much of lately.
To those behind the more than 7,000 votes we received this week, thank you. Let's keep this thing rolling. Just remember, the voting will only get tougher from here on in.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020 at 6:53 PM CDT: Updates link in how to box