Plenty of replacements standing in the wings

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:13 PM ET

As soon as Ryan Fry's defection from Jeff Stoughton became official, the phone calls started coming.

"I'm frustrated," Beausejour skip Reid Carruthers admitted yesterday. "The rumours are flying around about my team staying together."

Both Carruthers and his third Jason Gunnlaugson would be ideal candidates to replace Fry.

"No one's called me about playing with them," Carruthers said. "I'd be honoured if Jeff did call because it would mean he respected my ability -- or that he was desperate.

"Jeff's probably THE best curler of all time in Manitoba so it would be a tough decision but I'd stick with my team. Nothing's actually happened and our goal all along was to stick together."

Carruthers is also concerned about losing Canadian Team Ranking System points if he loses a player because his squad is closing in on earning a berth in the Olympic trials qualifying tournament.

Other possible replacements for Stoughton include Mike McEwen, Randy Dutiaume and Dean Dunstone.

Like Carruthers, McEwen plans to remain loyal to his own Assiniboine Memorial squad.

"Growing up, I always looked up to guys like Stoughton and (Kerry) Burtnyk and it would have been a dream to play with them," said McEwen, named the WCT's top rookie team last week. "But, at this stage, with the team I have, we're pretty committed to staying together. It's three guys I really get along with and we're right on the doorstep of bigger things.

"I was kind of shocked when I first heard about Fry but this might bring the gap a little closer with the top teams in Manitoba. It doesn't hurt us, I don't think."

Stoughton plans to discuss the situation with the remainder of his team, then make a decision within "the next couple of weeks."

BITERS: Both Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk and Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons also earned spots into the trials qualifying tourney ... Rob Meakin, who missed the Brier with a knee injury, played lead and held the broom when Burtnyk threw during the Players' Championship. Burtnyk earned $7,000 for qualifying.


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