The past week in Canadian curling has been nothing short of eye-opening with players joining new teams and entire teams splitting up on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Jennifer Jones’ team announcing its break up last week kicked things off, followed by Team Bottcher announcing its split a few days later, and news of Brett Gallant leaving Brad Gushue’s team after the season just a day after.
For Gushue, who will be representing Canada at the men’s curling world championship after winning Olympic bronze in February and a Brier title earlier this month, it comes as no surprise although he acknowledged the challenges that have been created.
“This week has obviously been a challenge for a lot of high performance curlers in the country,” Gushue told CBC Sports’ That Curling Show. “I could see it coming, I’m not shocked by it.
“I’m not sure why it’s the way it is right now with as much change but four years together, practising and training as much as we do, you could probably get tired of some people or you want some change, or personality clashes or people aren’t performing with other players. There’s lots of factors that go into it.”
Kaitlyn Lawes, who was previously a third on Jones’ team for 12 years, will now skip her own team out of Manitoba consisting of Jocelyn Peterman, Selena Njegovan and Kristin MacCuish.
Having won gold with Jones in 2014, among other accomplishments, Lawes showed no ill will and expressed how much she looks forward to the new chapter in her career.
“Change is not always a bad thing and it’s nice to have a refresh, new energy and something to look forward to,” the 33-year-old said. “I think it came at the right time — end of a quadrennial and the start of something new and great.
“As much as change is difficult, it makes you reflect on a lot of great memories and past experiences. I have so many fond memories that I have with Jennifer and the girls, and that’s something that I don’t take lightly. It was very emotional when we did decide to part ways.”
WATCH l Lawes to skip own team next season in Manitoba:
Howard airs thoughts on splitting of teams
Despite acknowledging that the product in curling continues to improve, legendary skip Glenn Howard says the constant change isn’t his style.
“It has been a kind of bizarre year, you knew a lot of this was coming. I didn’t think I’d see the magnitude of it. Everybody’s breaking up. It was refreshing to see Krista [McCarville] and the girls come up with a comical tweet to say they’re staying together.”
Howard, 59, also explained just how difficult the conversations could be surrounding a team’s potential split and that finding a new team does not equal longevity with them.
“It’s by far the worst thing that could happen in our sport. It’s never comfortable,” he said. “What I hate to see is when you do have break-ups or people get cut, that you lose friendships. It’s happened and there’s still a lot of those situations happening in curling today.
“This is the worst time because of the Olympics and the quadrennial — people think that they have to make changes for the next four years. Mark my words though, all those teams that have just made changes — they won’t all be together four years from now.”
Jacobs contemplates future
Brad Jacobs, an Olympic gold medallist in 2014 and ranked fifth in the world, discussed his decision last week to take a year off and cited his desire to spend more time with family, as well as pondering his future in curling.
All in all, he’s happy he will not be a part of the conversations surrounding the shifts in Canadian teams.
“It was actually a pretty easy decision and after I told my guys, I’m really at peace with it,” the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native said. “It’s been nice sit back over the last week or so and be out of all of the conversations of teams forming. It’s kind of liberating actually.
“But I always told my guys over the course of the last number of years, that it was hard for me to see past 2022 — I really couldn’t. I think for myself, this is the perfect time because we have a lot of other things going on outside of curling that a lot of people probably don’t know about. I do want to spend a little bit more time with my family, with my kids.
“I’m actually really excited to sit back and watch some curling — see how much I truly do love this sport and whether I have that hunger or desire to want to come back. Or if it’s something that may be is going to be in the rearview mirror for me. I really don’t know but time will tell.”
WATCH | Brad Jacobs questions future, decides to take year off: