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Personnel moves rampant in curling

Bruce Penton looks at all the drama in the world of curling
bruce penton sports

As the inturn turns…

Well, it might not be as intriguing and dramatic as the television soap opera As The World Turns, but the Canadian curling scene continues to draw gasps of surprise from the thousands of diehard fans across the country.

The latest: Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton, who skipped his team to the Brier title in 2021, appears to have been fired by the other three members of his team — Marc Kennedy, Brett Gallant and Ben Hebert — and been replaced at skip by  Brad Jacobs, who has become Canada’s most prominent member of the ‘Have Broom, Will Travel’ club. Jacobs, from Sault Ste. Marie, has a spectacular curling resume, having won one Brier (2013) and an Olympic gold medal (2014). He was a perennial participant in the Brier out of Northern Ontario but his rink split up when he took a sabbatical after the 2022 Brier. Last year, he hooked up with Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg and by the latter stages of the season, was skipping the team. After his sabbatical — reportedly so he could devote more time to family and business interests — Jacobs is now back in the full grind of competitive curling.

The Bottcher move was intriguing because only three years ago, the team’s third, Darren Moulding, was essentially fired by the team. To have the same thing happen to Bottcher must have brought a wry smile to the face of Moulding, who wasn’t happy with the move and didn’t mind saying so. What kind of supporting cast Bottcher will wind up with for next season remains to be seen, but publicly, he took the high road, posting on X that he wished his former team-mates all the best “on and off the ice.” He said he would have “more news” in the near future.

The Jacobs-to-Alberta move left the Carruthers rink with a big hole, but Saskatchewan native Catlin Schneider, who has thrown third stones for Matt Dunstone and  Colton Flasch, among others, filled it by joining the Winnipeg-based rink at third. There were other headline-inspiring moves during curling’s unofficial ‘free agency’ period. One of the bigger ones concerned Jennifer Jones, perhaps the best female curler in Canada’s history. She retired and her youthful rink went looking for a replacement, finding Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, an original Winnipegger who has two Scotties’ Tournament of Hearts’ titles to her credit.

Other personnel moves involving top curlers include Scott Howard, Glenn’s son, taking over as skip after his dad’s retirement; John Epping moving on from his Toronto-based rink and joining forces with Jacob and Tanner Horgan out of Northern Ontario (the Horgans are brothers of Tracy Fleury, the third on Rachel Homan’s world championship rink); and Lisa Weagle, who has played with Homan and Jones, has joined the Laurie St-Georges rink from Quebec.

Intrigue remains. Where will Bottcher land? Are there more changes to come? Will Moulding pop up on someone’s team? Stay tuned. Curling news is a 12-month-a-year deal these days.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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