After this year, hired gun Park will probably do his shooting closer to home

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The curling off-season is not unlike any other Canadian sport, when rumours begin to swirl about bodies switching teams - high-profile moves, even to neighbouring provinces.

It's a have-broom-will-travel scenario that begins at the end of the competitive season.

Edmonton native Kevin Park is one such hired gun, often living out of a suitcase, travelling to and from Manitoba as the third with Jeff Stoughton's highly competitive rink.

Kevin Park (centre) shown playing for Manitoba against British Columbia in a weekend game at the Brier Canadian men's curling championship in Halifax, lives in Edmonton, but commutes to play with Jeff Stoughton's Winnipeg-based rink. - Photo by The Canadi

HALIFAX -

The curling off-season is not unlike any other Canadian sport, when rumours begin to swirl about bodies switching teams - high-profile moves, even to neighbouring provinces.

It's a have-broom-will-travel scenario that begins at the end of the competitive season.

Edmonton native Kevin Park is one such hired gun, often living out of a suitcase, travelling to and from Manitoba as the third with Jeff Stoughton's highly competitive rink.

Just where he lands this summer will be interesting as the now five-time Brier competitor - and a winner in his first appearance in 1991 playing with Kevin Martin, Dan Petryk and Don Bartlett - contemplates his future.

"It's a lot of travel," admitted Park, who has made many a jaunt for the past two seasons with Stoughton and rinkmates Rob Fowler and Steve Gould. "I've spent over half my time in Manitoba, back and forth.

"It's not ideal, but it's been a boon to my career coming over to these guys," added Park, a 45-year-old database manager, who was also a world championship silver medallist in 1991 and an Olympian in 1992 with Martin when it was a demonstration sport in Albertville, France.

"The only thing that really bothers me the most is getting to the airports early, jacking around, waiting, waiting and waiting all the time and, invariably, it's delayed," Park chuckled. "That grates on me a little bit."

It has given him time to ponder his next move, although he isn't letting on.

"We haven't sat down and discussed it because we have the Players' Championship coming up, then we'll sit down and discuss with these guys where they're at and where I'm at," is Park's pat answer.

His skip, Stoughton, may have given everyone a better hint as to what's going on, although a Brier victory in Halifax could change it all.

"Basically, we got Kevin for this Olympic trials run and it depends on what happens here. It was sort of a two-year gig and we'll play it by year after this year," offered Stoughton. "It's been nothing but good things for Kevin, but it gets a lot tougher when a guy is travelling more than normal, so we'll see what happens."

Holes will begin to open up in rosters across the West and there is certain to be one on Edmontonian Kevin Koe's roster at third as Blake MacDonald is expected to taper back his competitive career. Same goes with the Randy Ferbey foursome, which could disband all together.

Sources have said that Ferbey has already discussed a move to Koe's rink, but Park has, in the past, also played a few bonspiels with the Edmonton Saville Centre crew.

"I haven't had any discussions with any other parties yet," chuckled Park.

"Not so much now," Stoughton laughed of the moniker. "He was before. He's a great curler and there's nothing wrong with his credentials, that's for sure.

"It's hard to say what we'll do. We'll talk about it after the Players' Championship. I'm sure it's in the back of everybody's minds, but it hasn't been discussed because we want to go out and win this thing. He has been good for us and that's what we needed, was consistency in his play."

As for Park, he isn't saying yet.

"We'll see how it goes here," he said with a smile. "I would like to win here and just keep curling."

Organizations: Edmonton Saville Centre

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Manitoba, Edmonton Kevin Park Albertville France

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