Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue (left) stands with his temmates second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker right) during bronze medal game curling action against Saskatchewan at the Brier in Calgary on Sunday
©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Two days after his pointed criticism of the existence of a bronze-medal game at the Brier Canadian men’s curling championship, Brad Gushue insists his comments were not spur-of-the-moment spite, but simply honest — and long-held — opinion.
In a Calgary Herald story Sunday, posted just hours after Gushue and his Newfoundland and Labrador rink dropped a 7-5 extra-end decision to Saskatchewan in the bronze-medal match-up at the Brier in Calgary, Gushue called it “the dumbest game in curling.
“You wouldn’t expect the conference runners-up in the Stanley Cup playoffs to play in a bronze-medal series.” he said.
Gushue made no secret of the crushing disappointment he and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker experienced after having lost their first two playoffs games to Northern Ontario and Team Canada, the two rinks that went on to the final, where the latter prevailed. But he said his feelings about the merits of a bronze-medal game were well-known before they faced Saskatchewan Sunday morning.
“I said it before. I said it when I won the bronze medal at the Brier and when I lost the bronze-medal game,” said Gushue, “When I said it this time, I was being consistent.
“I meant it. I stick by it. I’m not ashamed of what I said, because it is how I feel and how I’ve felt all along.
“I’d only be ashamed if I didn’t stick by what I believe.”
Gushue has played three of the five bronze-medal games at the Brier since the concept was introduced in 2011. He beat Kevin Martin and Alberta in the first such game four years ago and lost to Glenn Howard and Ontario in 2013.
Gushue has been reminded both Martin and Howard are also critics of the bronze-medal format.
“I really hope it never happens again, this bronze thing," Martin said in 2011.
“Other than the Olympics. I said that earlier, you’d crawl across the desert for an Olympic bronze. But please make this thing go away here.”
Two years later — after he beat Gushue for the bronze — Howard let it be known that he felt little joy in the victory.
“Two words — absolutely ridiculous — that we’re playing that game,” said the Ontario skip in 2013.
When asked what he believed was the prevailing opinion among this year’s Brier competitors, Gushue said he “would be shocked if 90 per cent” didn’t share his, Martin’s and Howard’s view.
Gushue said he was neither angry or bitter about the loss on Sunday, but was riled by suggestions he and his rink might not given their all against Saskatchewan.
“I was on (VOCM) Open Line (Tuesday) and when I heard those sorts of comments, I got mad.” he said. “It’s frustrating to hear anyone challenge our effort.
“Especially when we’re playing for Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re always so proud to represent this province, we’re always determined to give 100 per cent.
“So even though we might not be enthusiastic about the bronze-medal format, we gave 100 per cent in that game. We gave everything that we had
“But because of what I guess you could call the emotional currency that we had spent in the previous two games (the 1-2 Page playoff against Northern Ontario and semifinal loss to Team Canada), we certainly didn’t have as much to give as much as he would have if we had been in the final.
“And I think most people understand that.”
As for any inference his Sunday comments might be hurtful to St. John’s bid to host the 2017 Brier, Gushue says he is exasperated by those holding that notion.
“It’s nothing more than complete and utter fear-mongering. I don’t know why anyone would say that other than to create trouble,” he said.
“When Curling Canada makes its decisions about where the Brier will go, it will be based on economic factors,” added Gushue, who is an ambassador for the St. John’s 2017 effort.
“If they believe they can come here and bring people into the building and make money, this is where they will come.
“The decisions won’t be based on a statement by one person.”