Ottawa — Regardless of what happens tonight at the Roar of the Rings semifinal, look for Team Gushue to stay together next season.
To which most are replying, “Ya think?”
See, here’s the deal. Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols are from St. John’s — well, actually Mount Pearl and Labrador City — and Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker are from Charlottetown, P.E.I. and Edmonton.
But Gallant and Walker maintain residences in St. John’s, which is probably only half the time, anyway, on a team that’s racking up the travel reward points.
This is nothing new. Happens all the time in curling … Brent Laing from Kevin Koe’s Calgary team lives in Ontario, along with his wife, Jennifer Jones, who skips a Winnipeg-based foursome. John Morris, skip of the B.C. team, is an Alberta fireman. Cathy Overton-Clapham of Winnipeg plays for Chelsea Carey’s Calgary rink.
On and on it goes.
Things for Gushue might change a bit next year because things are definitely changing for lead Walker. He’s getting married to Laura Crocker, a curler from Edmonton. Meantime, Gallant is in a relationship with Jocelyn Peterman, who curls with Carey in Calgary.
Under Curling Canada rules, a team is permitted one “free agent,” that is a person who lives out of province.
That, next year, will probably be Walker.
Otherwise, according to the national curling body, “an individual claiming to be a bona fide resident of the specific curling province/territory whose playdown structure he or she wishes to enter, must be able to provide a minimum of three of the following four items to the Member Association (if requested):
Current driver’s license (or valid travel picture ID) from that province/territory
Current health care card from that province/territory
Letter from employer confirming employment within the province/territory
Statement from landlord (if renting) or bank (if owned) confirming residency within the province/territory — a copy of a property tax invoice for non-mortgaged property is also adequate.
“In addition to providing the above documentation,” rules state, “an individual must spend the majority of their non-compete time in the province/territory in which they are claiming to be a bona fide resident.”
Not certain where this leaves Gallant, but Gushue doesn’t foresee changes in the lineup.
“I think there’ll be more operating and functional changes,” he said. “I think Geoff’s probably going to be looking to play out of Alberta (as a free agent on the Gushue team).
“We haven’t talked about any of this,” he says with a wry grin, “but I’m good at math and I can put two and two together.”
Should Gushue’s team win the Trials and head off to another Olympics, the curlers would be nuts to walk away, leaving what could be a pile of money on the table should they win gold in PyeongChang (something that eluded the 2005 Gushue team).
Even if they miss out on the Olympics, the curlers have enough sponsorship and winnings to make it worthwhile sticking around together.
“We enjoy playing together, we’re No. 1 in the world, we have pretty good chemistry which is something I don’t want to mess with,” Gushue said.
“I think we’d be crazy to make any changes.”
Look for Teddy Purcell to be an Olympian come February.
The St. John’s hockey player is in the mix for a spot on Canada’s team for the PyeongChang Games. He played for Canada in the 2017 Karjala Cup in Finland last month, and is on Canada’s roster for the Channel Cup, which starts Wednesday in Moscow.
The Channel Cup, a three-game tournament, is the second of three events Canada will use to select its Olympic roster. The third is set for later this mon
th in December.
Purcell is getting long in the tooth for a hockey player – he’s 32 – but you have to think the Canadians could use a veteran goal-scorer with plenty of NHL experience.
There could be one hiccup, however. Purcell is currently playing for Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League and there is some discussion the KNL won’t release its players for the Olympics, given the Russian ban in PyeongChang.
Two things, however. Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he won’t stop Russians from competing in the Games as neutral athletes, and secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the KHL, being a member of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, has to follow the statutes and bylaws of the International ice Hockey Federation and release foreign players and national team players from other countries to play in the Olympics.
Even if that doesn’t happen, look for Purcell to walk away from Omsk and play for Canada. His career is winding down, and what better way to close it out than playing in the Olympics.
If Purcell plays, and Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols win the curling trials, that would mean four Newfoundland and Labrador athletes would be members of the Canadian Olympic team in South Korea. The other, of course, is figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown.
Imagine if four medals were won by Newfoundlanders from these Games?
Definitely not out of the realm of possibility.
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort