Donny B good

CON GRIWKOWSKY

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

He was out there, scrubbing like he was a kid again.

When Don Bartlett hung up his broom after the 2006 Brier, it seemed like that would be the last end of his curling career.

His back pain was so bad that there were nights he couldn't even sleep, never mind sweep the next day.

Donny B. slugged it out, playing through pain longer than he probably should have.

As one of the best weight-judges in the game, Bartlett 'weighted' his options and retired after 16 years of throwing lead rocks for Kevin Martin.

Yet, there he was at the men's northerns at the Ottewell Club, playing the same role for skip James Pahl.

After many years at the highest level, Bartlett now plays for fun, every Tuesday night in a recreational league at the Saville Centre and spares at the Wednesday night Super League.

"It's actually fun playing again," said Bartlett.

"We had all those years where every game we played was high intensity and for big stakes. Now, it's playing with the boys again and having a beer after the game."

Still, 35 years of throwing rocks up and down the ice takes its toll in other areas.

"First time I've even had to wear a knee brace in all my life," said Bartlett, reaching over and tugging on the brace sitting below his left knee. "My back's fixed and now my knee's screwed up."

About a year ago, Bartlett finally took the plunge and got his back fixed up good as new.

"I've got five titanium screws in my back," said Bartlett. "It works. Holy spit. I feel like a new man. He did a great job, Dr. Henderson."

Bartlett hit the competitive ice earlier this season at the Canada Cup qualifier, subbing in one game for his old skipper.

"I told Kevin that before he quits, I'd like to play one more spiel with him somewhere, although he's not really into that much," said Bartlett.

Bartlett still follows Martin's career closely. Watching Martin win the 2008 world championship, finally bringing home a title after falling short on the international stage five previous times was truly an emotional moment.

"When he won the worlds, I tell you, I was crying," said Bartlett, who was there for many of the heartbreaking moments. "I was real proud for him. He went through a lot of anguish not getting that world championship. It was good for him.

"He's not one to let it worry him. Kevin is very strong mentally, very strong. He was like the best golfer never to win a major."

It was Pahl's second, Rollie Robinson, who came up with the idea to give Bartlett a call.

Pahl had just been eliminated in the city playdowns and pitched an offer for Bartlett to join the squad in the Last Chance Spiel.

"The boys called me up," said Bartlett. "I wasn't doing anything, so I figured why not? We only had three players, so lucky it was only two games."

After qualifying for the 2008 provincials with an Alberta Tour spot, Pahl won his C Event final before bowing out to Kevin Koe in the C winners game.

"Donny definitely brings a new element to our game," said Pahl, Heading into last night's A event semifinal, the team was still undefeated.

It seems Bartlett has become a bit of a good luck charm in a tough playdowns year for Pahl.

"You've got to go to the pen and bring in the grizzled veteran," said Pahl.

So far, so good.


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