2005 Pierre LeBrun

by Tim Wharnsby

Canada enjoyed quite a 31-month sporting roll from February 2003 to September 2004. The men’s hockey team won two world championships, an Olympic gold medal, a World Cup and Mike Weir dazzled golf fans across the country with his ground-breaking playoff victory at the Masters.

Pierre LeBrun

Pierre LeBrun

A common thread to all of the golden – and green – moments was that fans savoured these accomplishments through the Canadian Press newspaper dispatches from Pierre LeBrun. The kid from North Bay, Ontario, was clearly making his mark in journalism.

LeBrun, however, was able to increase his notoriety in the Canadian sports journalism scene through his coverage of the dreaded lockout that kept the National Hockey League dark for the 2004-05 season.

The lengthy labour battle between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association was a thorny and sometimes confusing story. But Lebrun, 33, was able to decipher the spin and connect the dots for readers around the world.

His dedication to making sure the story was fair, accurate and broke new ground left him the envy of his peers.

LeBrun began reporting on the pending lockout as far back as March 2003, but once the owners locked out the players on Sept. 15, 2004, LeBrun’s Blackberry wireless email device never stopped buzzing and his cell phone was always ringing.

Not bad for a youngster who was raised in a French home and didn’t begin speaking English until his mid-teens. He went to study journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa and upon graduation was hired by Canadian Press in August, 1995 as an editorial assistant in the business department.

That fall, at only age 23, LeBrun began covering Toronto Maple Leafs games at the venerable Maple Leaf Gardens and moved full-time to the CP sports department the following summer.

LeBrun, who also appears regularly on Canadian sports network The Score as its main hockey analyst, has covered three Stanley Cups, six world championships, the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey as well as five major golf championships and five Canadian Opens.

Earlier in 2005, LeBrun was awarded a Livewire Award by The Canadian Press for his lockout coverage. He was quick to credit CP sports editor Neil Davidson and his colleagues for the honour.