TORONTO — Christine Sinclair and Mark Messier, who have led Canada to international glory on grass and ice, have been appointed to the Order of Canada.
The two are among 99 new appointments to the Order, considered one of the country’s highest civilian honours. It recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Sinclair has long been the face of Canadian soccer, captaining the senior women’s side to back-to-back bronze Olympic medals.
"I think what’s special for me is that this goes beyond soccer," Sinclair said in a statement. "I am a very, very proud Canadian, I am proud of where I am from, and to be recognized in this nature is surreal. It’s not something you can dream about happening to youâ€¦ I can dream of winning a World Cup or an Olympic gold medal, and that’s my job, but to have your country recognize you — I don’t even know what to say."
The 34-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., who was Canada’s flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, has scored 168 goals in 259 games in a stellar international career that shows no signs of slowing.
Only retired American Abby Wambach has scored more international goals (184) than Sinclair in women’s play.
Messier, 56, is a Hockey Hall of Famer who retired in 2005 after 25 NHL seasons with Edmonton, Vancouver and the New York Rangers,
"He was the best player I ever played with and it was a pleasure to play with him each and every day," former teammate Wayne Gretzky said at the time.
Messier ranks second in NHL all-time points with 1,887 (694 goals, 1,193 assists). Like Sinclair, Messier was an accomplished leader.
With the Rangers trailing New Jersey 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference final, Messier promised the series would go to seven games. The Edmonton native scored a hat trick to live up to his word and New York won Game 7 in double overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup final.
The Rangers went on to win the Cup in seven games, with Messier scoring the winning goal against Vancouver to end New York’s 54-year title drought.
Known as the Moose, the powerful forward won six Stanley Cups and represented Canada at three Canada Cups, one world championship and one World Cup.
Under Sinclair, Canada has risen to No. 4 in the world rankings, an all-time high.
Sinclair has been a member of the Canadian senior for 17 years and has been named the CSA’s Player of the Year in 13 of those years.
"Everything she does is about playing for her country," said Canada coach John Herdman. "Every single day the decisions she makes about her football career and around her personal life, are about pulling on that red jersey.
"When someone gets that opportunity they either treat it as their sport, or as a calling, and I think Christine over the last eight years, and certainly over the time I’ve known her, has recognized that this is her calling to be part of something special — a team, a game — that transcends a soccer field."