OLDS -- Last call for The Ferbey Four?
One more time for old times sake?
"There will be changes," predicts Randy Ferbey for his iconic team when the season comes to an end, although the changes are not likely to be of the permanent variety.
But there is a way to keep the old glory gang together.
Win another Brier.
With all the perks which come with that, you can't really afford to take a year off like Ferbey figures one or two members of his team might have planned for next year.
First you've got to get there.
KEVIN MARTIN OUT
With Kevin Martin out of the picture to represent Canada at the Olympics, the door is open for Ferbey to get back to the Brier with Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque to try and become the first team to win five Brier titles together.
"The door is open to get back, but it's not wide open," said Ferbey, as the teams gathered here for the Boston Pizza Cup provincial curling final which begins Wednesday morning.
"With Kevin Martin not here, it's going to be easier for everybody," said Ferbey.
"If Kevin were here, he'd be the favourite."
Ferbey would now figure to be the favourite with Edmonton's Kevin Koe the man considered most likely to face him in the final.
"There are other teams who have to be looking at this as their best chance.
"Instead of having to get by Martin, Ferbey and Koe, they only have to get by Ferbey and Koe," he said of a field where Edmonton's Ted Appelman, Sherwood Park's James Pahl and Kurt Balderston of Sexsmith would also be considered contenders.
Ferbey lost the A final, the 1-2 game and the final to Martin at provincials in Spruce Grove two years ago and the same three games again last year in Wainwright.
"It's not as exciting as it was 10 years ago," said Ferbey of going to another provincial final, which he thinks might be a record 17th or 18th, but who knows when the Alberta Curling Federation hasn't bothered to create even the most elementary of record books.
"The fire is still burning. But it's not a bonfire," said the skip who took the last World Curling Tour event off to rest his wonky knee after Nedohin had passed the week before on the TSN Skins Game due to a bad back.
"I'm reasonably confident," Ferbey added of the team's chances of returning to the great celebration of Canadiana.
"It would be great to get back to the Brier and try to add another chapter to our book. It's not like it's been an eternity, but it kind of feels like one," he said of winning his last one in Edmonton in 2005 after a five-year run representing the province.
Martin was away more years than Ferbey has been to this point.
He went from 2001 to 2006 and was nine years between Brier wins.
And Ferbey has been away before, himself. He won his first two of a record six Briers in 1989 and 1990 with Pat Ryan and went 11 years between Brier appearances in his first curling life.
Matt Baldwin of Edmonton won the Brier in 1954, 1957 and 1958 and didn't get back for another 13 years, and didn't win again when he did.
Hec Gervais of St. Albert won the Brier in 1961 and didn't win again until 1974, making only two appearances between times.
"We've remained as one of the top three or four teams in the world in the time we've been away. But it would be nice to be back," said Ferbey.
"It would be great to go to Halifax. We had a great Brier there," he said of going undefeated to win in 2003.
"They way I look at it is that we're only six games from doing that."
But will they stay together for four more years? Will one or two of them take a year off?
"I won't be one of them. I can't afford to take a year off. I can't afford to stop curling if I want to continue curling," says the 50-year-old skip.
But Ferbey figures one or two of his teammates are leaning toward pulling the plug, at least temporarily, as play begins here today.
"These guys have been going for 14 solid years and they're still young. I think there might be one or two thinking about either taking next year off or curling a reduced schedule or something like that, then maybe coming back and having at 'er for three more years.
"I'm hoping our core group will stay together. I don't think any of us are trying to get rid of each other."
TERRY JONES PICKS
1. Randy Ferbey...Back to the Brier.....3-1.
2. Kevin Koe...Back to the drawing board...4-1
3. James Pahl...Don Bartlett on board....6-1
4. Ted Appelman...A definite maybe....7-1
5. Kurt Balderston...Northern lights....8-1
6. Wade White...Edmonton lesser lights...10-1
7. Rob Armitage...It would be a fun one...12-1
8. Warren Hassall...Border Kings borderline...14-1
9. Brent Bawel...South won't rise again...20-1
10. Adrian Bakker...See Brent Bawel...30-1
11. Kelsey Dusseault...Sexsmith field filler...50-1
12. Ben Wilkinson...56-year-old ice maker...100-1
CON GRIWKOWSKY PICKS
1. Kevin Koe...It's their turn...5-2
2. Randy Ferbey...Second-best again.....3-1
3. James Pahl...Surprises in store ....5-1
4. Warren Hassall...Welcome back to Alberta...8-1
5. Ted Appelman...Needs to be consistent....8-1
6. Kurt Balderston...Perennial contender....8-1
7. Adrian Bakker...South's best...10-1
8. Wade White...Veteran lineup...10-1
9. Rob Armitage...Always has a good time...15-1
10. Brent Bawel...A tough draw...25-1
11. Kelsey Dusseault...Outmatched here...50-1
12. Ben Wilkinson...Once in a lifetime...75-1