November 15, 2012
More to it than the money, says Kevin Martin
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
BRANTFORD, ONT. - Nobody more than Edmonton's Kevin Martin, whose legacy is very much tied into the Grand Slam concept and a couple Brier boycotts to launch it, felt any more excited.
"It just makes us all feel so good. There is so much positive energy," said Martin of being told, moments before he took the ice in the opening draw of the new Grand Slam season that new owners Rogers Sportnet had not only saved the series but were putting up a $1 million bonus for any men's rink that wins all four events or $100,000 spread through the top three if nobody pulls it off.
"This day is so significant in so many ways," said the Olympic gold-and silver-medal winning skip, four-time Brier champ, winner of a record 14 Grand Slam titles and the first curler to skip teams to over $2 million in winnings.
"Both the announcements at this meeting are significant and not just for the money involved.
"Today's curling is so competitive, there are so many teams here capable of winning this weekend, that the chances of winning all four of them is not what maybe it once was," said Martin who once won five in a row but not four in the same year.
"The extra $100,000 guaranteed to be shared by the top three teams is huge because it makes the series more relevant from one event to the next one.
"But overall, it's just the statement it makes to us from Rogers and Sportsnet where they're taking this. They're really taking this under their wing and this says they're really serious about making it even bigger and better.
"It's so great for curling because Rogers and Sportsnet can make it happen," said Martin, who will play John Epping of Toronto in the first telecast of the new era Thursday at 10 a.m. Edmonton time with Glenn Howard's Ontario team and Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg up next at at 1:30 p.m. Mountain, both on Sportsnet West.
"Having them as owners really puts curling in a good situation. It does say a lot about the brand. Sportsnet would not have got involved in ownership of it all if they didn't see the strength of the product. The sky is the limit," added Martin.
Martin, in his opener, saw a 6-2 lead evaporate against 2006 Brier champion Jean-Michel Ménard of Québec. With the score tied 6-6 in the final frame, Martin made an essential runback double-kill to secure an 8-6 victory.