While Manitoba's reigning champion Kerry Burtnyk is expected to finally confirm today that Alberta's Don Walchuk will play third for him next season, many local competitive curlers are anxiously waiting to see who will comprise the rest of the foursome.
Burtnyk has called for a press conference to announce his new team, with rumours that Walchuk's former teammate, Don Bartlett, will play lead for him. Both Walchuk and Bartlett played for Alberta's Kevin Martin when he beat Burtnyk in the 2001 Olympic trials final.
Burtnyk has requested a medical exemption from the Canadian Curling Association because lead Rob Meakin can longer play due to injury so he can maintain his berth into the trials qualifying tournament -- earned through his Canadian Team Ranking System points. The rules state that a team must go to the qualifier with at least three of those players and Burtnyk had already parted ways with third Dan Kammerlock. Although it was expected that Garth Smith would be asked to continue as Meakin's replacement, Burtnyk never did officially register Smith so he may be allowed to replace Meakin with any other player -- if the CCA rules that way. If the ruling goes against Burtnyk, it will not matter who is on his team but he would give up that berth in the qualifier.
Should Smith be left out, expect Reid Carruthers to snap him up to round out the new squad he has formed with Kammerlock. Carruthers has already added Shane Kilgallen at lead.
"Shane has been to two Briers so he has a lot of experience," Carruthers said. "And once Burtnyk makes his announcement (today), you can expect a lot of movement among the rest of the teams in Manitoba."
Kilgallen played lead for Mark Lukowich at the 2002 Brier and second for Randy Dutiaume at the 2005 Brier.