He's hot, but who is he?

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:44 AM ET

Pat Simmons would fit right in to that Sesame Street segment. Just, ahem, count down the World Curling Tour money leaders.

1) Kevin Martin of Edmonton: $80,500.

2) Glenn Howard of Troy: $72,651. (Sponsored by Trojan condoms).

3) Randy Ferbey of Edmonton: $62,000.

4) Pat Simmons of Moose Jaw: $58,000.

Yep. One of these things is not like the other. One of these guys doesn't belong.

LOSING FINALS

Or does he?

Simmons lost the Grand Slam final to Jeff Stoughton in Humboldt last weekend.

In his previous outing at Saskatoon two weeks ago, he lost the final to Randy Ferbey.

With a bit of luck, the personable Simmons could easily have been ranked No. 2 going into this week's Canada Cup West at the Saville Centre.

In a sport where notoriety is measured in Brier wins, Simmons is only one of two skips in the top 10 who has never won a Brier. Winnipeg's Dave Boehmer, No. 6, is the other.

There's no question Simmons, the just-turned-30 chiropractor, and Kevin Martin are the two hottest skips in curling right now.

"There's a nice mix of experience and youth on this team,'' said Simmons, whose second Chris Haichert and lead Ben Hebert were part of a rink that won the 2003 junior worlds.

"There's things to improve on, but there's all kinds of talent there.''

The team was successful right out of the gate when it was formed last season, finishing sixth on the WCT money list.

"To have early success is helpful, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was surprising.''

Simmons has lifted his game above the banger reputation many Saskatchewan-based teams have earned.

They recognized early the importance of developing a touch game.

"We realize that to compete with and beat the top teams in the world, you have to have that,'' Simmons said.

"Our goal is to be one of those teams - sooner than later.''

Last year's Brier run was cut short when third Jeff Sharp tore an ACL ligament in his knee.

"The Brier has given a lot of people their notoriety,'' said Simmons.

ALL THE MONEY

"You can win all the money you want, but a lot of those names became names because of the Brier.

''The Brier means a lot to us. We love watching it. The World Curling Tour has done a lot for the game, but the Brier is still a priority.

"It would sure be nice to come back here again (for the Edmonton Brier).''

It's still a young team in a game where the top teams have paid their dues over many seasons.

"Our age is definitely our asset right now,'' said Simmons.

"We have nothing but experience to gain. As long as we learn from them.''

PASS THE HAT: Curlers have a couple of advantages on the locked-out NHL players - they still have a chance to earn money and it's certain somebody will go to the 2006 Olympics. Even though Kevin Martin's combined earnings of $181,000 is a grand above the NHL minimum, he has kept things in perspective. "The NHL players will be making more money on interest than I'll be making this season,'' said Martin.


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