Korab cut

'Purely a chemistry thing,' Gushue says of letting lead go

Robin Short rshort@thetelegram.com
Published on April 5, 2007
Jamie Korab delivers a lead rock for the Brad Gushue rink in this file photo. Skip Brad Gushue confirmed Wednesday Korab part of the gold medal team Olympic team has been let go. File photo

It's been just over a year since the Brad Gushue curling team won Olympic gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, yet only two members of that historical team - Gushue and third Mark Nichols - are left standing.

The latest casualty is lead Jamie Korab, who was informed last night he's out as a member of the St. John's-based team that came within a win of taking home Newfoundland and Labrador's second Brier championship last month in Hamilton, Ont.

It's been just over a year since the Brad Gushue curling team won Olympic gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, yet only two members of that historical team - Gushue and third Mark Nichols - are left standing.

The latest casualty is lead Jamie Korab, who was informed last night he's out as a member of the St. John's-based team that came within a win of taking home Newfoundland and Labrador's second Brier championship last month in Hamilton, Ont.

Korab now joins Mike Adam, who was cut loose prior to Christmas, on the outside looking in. Adam was the team's fifth man in Torino and had been relegated to fifth again this year after Chris Schille was brought in from Alberta to curl second.

Gushue's second in Torino, Russ Howard, resides in New Brunswick and there was never a plan for the 51-year-old Hall of Famer to curl in Newfoundland. The team's coach in Torino, Toby McDonald, called it quits after the Olympics and was replaced by Glenn Goss.

The decision to can Korab - which Gushue said had been discussed the last couple of weeks - is nothing less than stunning. Besides the Brier final, a 10-6 loss to Ontario's Glenn Howard, Gushue has semifinal and quarter-final placings in his last two events - the Canada Cup in Kamloops, B.C., and The National in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., the latter a World Curling Tour Grand Slam event.

Gushue is seventh on the Tour's money list with $38,000 in earnings and fifth on the Canadian team ranking system. And this despite playing fewer Tour events than most of the other teams.

Major event coming up

Even more puzzling is the fact the move comes six days before the start of the Players Championship in Calgary, the final Grand Slam event on the Tour.

Kind of like the contending New Jersey Devils putting the boots to coach Claude Julien with only a handful of games left before the playoffs.

"I understand the thinking," Gushue said when reminded of the aforementioned facts.

"But the team chemistry was not there, not the way it has been in the past.

"We didn't seem to have that harmony. We didn't seem to have that 'it' thing. Chemistry is the only way I can describe it."

Gushue said it wasn't solely his decision. Rather, it was a team resolution involving himself, Nichols, Schille and Goss.

Ironically, it was Korab who was usually relied upon to keep the others loose.

"It's not so much him curling 95 per cent," Gushue said at the Halifax Olympic Trials two years ago, "but his attitude that makes me and Mark play better. He makes us feel loose and confident."

Korab, from Harbour Grace, had been curling with Gushue off and on for the better part of 10 years.

He was the fifth on the team which won the 2001 world juniors in Ogden, Utah.

He was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

When asked if the chemistry imbalance may be the result of Schille's presence - if only because he's the new guy - Gushue admitted it's a possibility.

"But we don't believe it is," he said. "We've been together so long maybe it's time to move in a different direction. Sometimes it's good to have a shakeup and get new blood.

"Jamie's play has nothing to do with this. He's proven he's one of the top leads in the country. It's purely a chemistry thing. We've proven we can win when we're at our best and get to the next level. Now we have to prove we can win when we're not at our best."

As for the Players, Gushue will use Nova Scotia's Andrew Gibson, the lead for Mark Dacey's Halifax rink, at the Corral in Calgary.

"I honestly feel this was the right time," Gushue said.

"Once the decision was made, it was unfair to go to Calgary and continue as a team under false pretenses, knowing a change was going to be made. And it would be unfair to Jamie to do that. With our friendship, that would be putting things at risk."

Search on

So now the search is on for another lead. There are talented curlers within the province, but take it to the bank Gushue will be looking outside Newfoundland and Labrador for an all-mainland front end.

"The problem with getting someone from Newfoundland is commitment, the time and money," he said. "We travel an awful lot, so there's a big sacrifice. I don't know how many people are willing to do that.

"And when we go into an event, let's just say the attention we receive is a lot different than an event in Newfoundland. It takes some adjustment."

Gushue said he is not concerned about any potential public backlash as a result of his latest move.

"I hope people would understand it's in the best interest of the team," he said, "and about getting to the next Olympics.

"I think we're the most qualified to make the decision and it's for the betterment of the team. It's not a personal attack. It's about making a step forward to Vancouver and 2010 (Winter Olympics)."

rshort@thetelegram.com