Mead joins Middaugh

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

First it was Burtnyk, now it's Mead.

Jon Mead, the long-term third for Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton, is returning from a one-year hiatus with a new team -- just like Kerry Burtnyk did last year. Mead, however, will play third for Ontario's Wayne Middaugh next season and will likely make his debut with the former world champion at this year's Players' Championships in Calgary, Mead confirmed yesterday.

Mead will replace Peter Corner, who is taking a respite himself, and the squad's first goal is to qualify for the 2009 Olympic trials together.

"I was watching the Brier and had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to play in it any more," Mead said. "Then I got a call from (Middaugh's lead) Scott Bailey who asked what I was planning to do next year. I told him that I didn't want to play a full schedule because of the time commitment but I wanted to play in the top events because I got spoiled doing that with Jeff."

Middaugh has assembled a five-man team that will include his former third Graeme McCarrel, who will likely play in the Ontario playdowns since Mead is ineligible to do so.

"But I'll play the lion's share of events," said Mead, adding that he might have to play second in some of them with the 2010 Olympics the goal. "That's obviously the focus of that team and we want to do well in those top events. Certainly, on paper, it's good enough to get one of those trials spots, then we can go from there.

"This is an opportunity to put myself in the trials chase while playing the minimum amount of time in the big events."

Mead, however, has no plans to join a team for the Manitoba playdowns "which means bypassing the whole Brier experience," he said.

"The only reservation I have is that people will think I am thumbing my nose at the Brier and that's just not the case," he added. "If it wasn't for work, I wouldn't do that."

Mead did have reservations, however, when he first slid away from the curling scene last year.

"What bothered me the most when I walked away is that I was playing better than I had ever played before," he said. "I'm turning 40 but you look at Jeff and Kerry, who are a little older, and we can still play if we take care of ourselves."

Mead added that he had always gotten along with the Middaugh squad both on and off the ice.

"They're guys I've respected for a long time," he said.

Mead spared for several other teams earlier this season and will play third for Alberta's Kevin Koe at a WCT spiel in Victoria, B.C., April 6-9.


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