Jamie Korab will see action with Wayne Middaugh this week. Telegram file photo
Long-time teammates Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols, the remaining holdovers from Canada's Olympic championship team, won't be the only gold medallists throwing stones in the Tylenol Players Championship which opens Wednesday in St. John's.
Jamie Korab, the lead on the Gushue team which won it all at the '06 Torino Games, will be seeing some icetime at Mile One Centre this week.
Korab will curl second stone for Ontario's Wayne Middaugh beginning Friday when John Epping heads home for work commitments. Korab may also see some playing time with Quebec's Robert Desjardins Thursday, in place of Jean-Francois Charest.
"This year was a bit of a disappointment, so this is a nice opportunity for me," said Korab.
Judging by his performance in the other three Capital One Grand Slam events this season, Middaugh figures to be in playoff contention this weekend. He's the only skip in the 16-team men's field to reach the semifinals of the first three Slams this season - the BDO Classic Canadian Open, The National and the Masters of Curling.
Middaugh is coming off a loss to B.C.'s Bob Ursel in the Bear Mountain Arena Classic final two weeks ago.
Epping is a new face to the Ontario team, replacing Ian Tetley who curled second this past season.
"I also got a call from Kerry Burtnyk to fill in for one of the guys on his team, but I'd already committed to Middaugh," Korab said.
Korab curled a bit on the World Curling Tour with Guy Hemmings this year, including the Baden Masters in Baden, Switzerland, won by Gushue, Nichols, Chris Schille and Dave Noftall, curling under the Bally Haly Curling Club banner.
The Hemmings team, which also included Sebastien Robillard and Pierre Charette, struggled through the early part of the season.
"Guy didn't curl bad, but there were a lot of shots he just missed. There were a lot of good results, but no results, if you know what I mean," said Korab. "Guy was frustrated and while he didn't pack it in, he scaled back."
On the local front, Korab formed a team with skip Mark Noseworthy which also included Olympic teammate Mike Adam and Ryan Ledrew.
The foursome was to have challenged Gushue for the provincial championship, but instead wound up Team Walking Wounded at the Labatt Tankard in Labrador City.
Korab was plagued by an infected wisdom tooth which put him in a fair amount of discomfort, a troublesome back put Adam in hospital for four days and to top it all off, Ledrew suffered a seizure in Lab City.
"It was pretty much a write-off," Korab understated.
It was just over a year ago Korab made big news throughout the curling world when he was given his walking papers from the Gushue team in a move that was cited as a, "chemistry thing."
It sparked unprecedented outrage in this province and led to a fair degree of acrimony between Korab and his former mates.
A year later and the dust seems to have settled.
"It is just a game ... a sport, and maybe I took things too personally," said Korab, who was publicly critical of Gushue, in particular. "Looking back, I would have done things differently.
"These were guys I hung out with five out of a seven days a week and certainly an argument (Korab claimed an on-ice dispute at the Brier led to his dismissal) isn't the one thing that got me kicked off.
"There were some issues there that maybe didn't come out and, like I said, I would have done things differently."
Gushue received a flood of criticism, blame that Korab admits was and is unfair.
"There was some hard stuff said about Brad, but the guy just wants to win and you can't hold that against him," Korab said. "I mean, he's done a lot for this province and this sport."