The 2009 Olympic Trials are still the No. 1 goal for Jeff Stoughton, but thanks to a "move" yesterday his new-look squad will be in the running for a provincial men's curling title this winter as well.
Stoughton's new third, Kevin Park, officially moved from Edmonton to Winnipeg yesterday, which means all four members of the team will be Manitoba residents at the MCA-mandated Nov. 1 deadline.
As far as Stoughton is concerned, Park's relocation means his team will get a berth in February's Safeway Championship because it is the top squad from last season's Canadian Team Ranking System without a spot.
"We're going to try to represent Manitoba," Stoughton said yesterday, "and that's our goal."
Had Park decided to remain in Edmonton, Stoughton would have had to pick up a Manitoba resident if he wanted to compete in the Safeway Championship. Park solved that potential pickle by deciding to run his Internet service provider company from Winnipeg.
"It was up to him, whether he wanted to do that or not," Stoughton said.
Park is replacing Ryan Fry, who left to play second for Newfoundland's Brad Gushue.
Another team facing the same situation is Kerry Burtnyk's defending provincial championship squad, which replaced Dan Kammerlock at third with Alberta's Don Walchuk.
Burtnyk wasn't giving out any hints yesterday as to which way he was going to go.
"We'll be declaring our team at some point in time," he said.
When asked if that team could still include Walchuk, who would have to establish a Manitoba residence by Nov. 1, Burtnyk's answer didn't change.
"We'll be declaring our team at some point in time."
Stoughton, Park, second Rob Fowler and lead Steve Gould will play their first game together tonight in Selkirk, when the Manitoba Curling Tour season kicks off with the men's and women's McMillan Insurance Classic.
The $16,000 event, which features 16 men's and 16 women's squads, features draws at 6:30 and 9 o'clock, and there are plenty of big names in the field.
The men's side of the draw also includes Vic Peters and Randy Dutiaume, while Kaitlyn Lawes, Calleen Neufeld and Kristy Jenion are some of the notables in the women's event.
"It's a really strong field and a snapshot of what it might look like at provincials in February," Stoughton said of the men's draw.
The finals will be played on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
Burtnyk is skipping the McMillan Insurance Classic to gear up for three consecutive World Curling Tour events, starting with next weekend's BDO Classic in Oakville, Ont.
BITER: Dutiaume has picked up Nathan Asham, Arnold's son, to take over at third for Dave Elias, who is facing knee surgery.