Canadian playoff criticism misguided

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:26 AM ET

So our Team Canada sharp-shooters aren\'t exactly thrilled with the playoff system being used at the worlds. Not enough reward for the top teams after the round robin, they say. It\'s not fair -- one slip-up, and you\'re done.

I say, deal with it.

Embrace it, even. Because there is nothing more pure than winner advances, loser goes home.

It\'s what makes international sport special. No best-of-fives or sevens. No second-chance, Page playoff system.

You know the Page system, the one they use at the Brier and the Scott, where the first-place team plays the second-place team, and the loser has a second chance, while the winner goes directly to the final.

You know what it really is? A made-for-TV invention, ensuring there will be a high-profile game every day.

But how high-profile is a game with nothing on the line?

What would you rather buy a ticket for -- a sudden-death match between Canada\'s Colleen Jones and Norway\'s Dordy Nordby, where the loser is done, or a game between Jones and Anette Norberg of Sweden, where both teams know they\'ll play again, win or lose? That\'s little more than an exhibition.

Thankfully, we\'ve got Jones (9-0) vs Nordby (5-4) tonight, with everything at stake.

Same thing tomorrow morning: Randy Ferbey and Team Canada (8-1) against Norway\'s Pal Trulsen (6-3), a rematch of last year\'s gold-medal match.

Beautiful. Wouldn\'t have it any other way. Neither would you, I suspect.

Our Canadians, though, beg to differ.

\"Here, a team with four losses has just as good a chance of winning as a team with a perfect record,\" Jones said.

Say what? Jones figures her team has only a 50-50 chance of advancing to tomorrow\'s final?

Over in the men\'s locker-room, our own Dave Nedohin expressed similar sentiments.

\"I think if a team is hypothetically 9-0 and they\'re playing a team that has four losses, I don\'t think it\'s right that if that team loses one game, their year is finished, or they\'re out of this tournament,\" Nedohin said.

It\'s as fair as the Olympics, though, or the World Cup. And the road to the Super Bowl or Grey Cup is littered with all kinds of regular-season wonders who\'ve crashed and burned in the playoffs.

It\'s all about coming up with your best performance on the one day it matters most.

Second chances? That\'s what the round robin this past week was all about.

Nordby might have said it best yesterday.

\"How many games would it (take) to make sure you have the correct winner?\" she said.

Exactly. Why not a second chance for the loser of the final, too?

And what if all four playoff teams are, say, 7-3 or 6-4. You\'re going to reward two of them over the others?

Nordby, you should know, relishes the chance to take on the Canucks in tonight\'s semi.

\"If you ever should meet them, it\'s in the semifinal,\" she said. \"Because that\'s where they have everything to lose ... I would have felt that if I was Canadian.\"

Nedohin admits he feels it, too.

\"This semifinal game is the toughest in curling,\" said the Winnipeg product. \"There\'s no question about it. There is a lot of pressure to do well.\"

And pressure is what a good team thrives on.

You know, there\'s really no point in wishing the system was different, anyway. Worlds organizers have no intention of changing it.

Some say it\'s a conspiracy against Canada. I don\'t know about that.

Maybe they just know a good thing when they see it.


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