Martin confirmed he (they) wont be doing provincials or the Brier this year. Understandably with them going to the Olympics and all, they're going to be too busy and away from their families long enough as is. Kennedy and Hebert also made comments, and maybe it's just me, but it seemed like that wouldn't have been their first choice. Maybe I read a bit too much into that, but check out this comment on Bob Weeks' blog:
"Talking to a number of players over the final weekend, it's clear that Kevin Martin and his team aren't going to win any popularity contests among their peers. Almost to a man, the players I talked to said the new Olympic squad isn't really a team in the true sense -- they are more a business. "I've never seen the four of them do anything together other than curl," said one Western Canadian curler. "I don't know if they really like each other." The betting is that if the team starts losing (which, admittedly is a long shot considering the way they played) at the Olympics, there will be lots of finger-pointing. That said, I have no problems with Kevin and the rest. They've been good to me from a professional standpoint and on the ice, they're mighty impressive."
The two go together, eh?
This whole situation makes me sad, for two reasons.
1. I don't like thinking about curling as a business. I like curling because it is good natured and not full of politics and big money egos. I like hearing about teams like the Ferbey four who have been together forever. When curling players move around (get traded if you will), it feels artificial and calculated and curling is not like that. I'm sure many people will disagree though, and there's a lot at stake for the sport now (in terms of money, fans, advertising, blah blah blah) so maybe it's necessary. Team Martin is probably the best team in the world, maybe ever, so whatever they're doing is working. I just like to think everyone likes each other and is one big happy family.
2. No Martin at the Brier? Really? Shouldn't the best in the world be at the best event in Canada? I suppose it wasn't guaranteed they'd be there anyways.
On the flip side, this situation makes me happy for two reasons.
1. Alberta will have a new provincial champion. I've been to the mens provincials (aka Boston Pizza Cup) for the past two years, and am seriously considering trekking out to the event this February. The last two years I've been (and likely many many years previously) it has been a Martin-Ferbey final. The last two years I've been (and likely many many years previously) Martin won. This year will be different. And that's kinda exciting. If someone guaranteed me a Ferbey-Koe final I would for sure drive the 3hrs out to Olds, Alberta to watch (duh, did you not follow my blog throughout the Roar or last years provincials? I'm like team Koe's biggest fan.). Last year though, Koe ended up 5th (seriously, how did that happen) so nothing is guaranteed. Koe is back to throwing skip stones, and they played really well (mostly) during the Olympic Curling Trials so they've got a great shot at the title. Martin not showing up will make the event interesting, and the outcome not 'pre-determined'. So do I spend $300 to go watch, or $12.95 to order the event via CurlTv.com?
Team Martin scouting the semis at Provincials 2009
2. Canada will have a new national champion. I'm also a big team Howard fan, so I'm all for a changing of the guard at the national, and world level (oh the disappointment of last years worlds). And I'm tired of seeing Martin-Howard finals (I can't believe I wrote that - but yes it's true).
So Martin pulling out of provincials/the Brier is...interesting. The Martin team not being as close and friendly as we might think, well I guess there's a reason. And hey, if that means they concentrate on winning the Olympic gold medal, I'm all for it!
Go Canada for gold in Vancouver 2010!!
(Oh, and Koe for the win at provincials, and then Koe or Howard at the Brier. For the record.)