LONDON, Ont. – Last year, Jamie Koe's team from the Territories had a 1-10 record at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Under the proposed plan to bring relegation to the Brier, they would have been the team relegated.
At the same time his brother Kevin Koe of Alberta, the defending Brier and world champion, would have been the first team to play here as Team Canada.
If that had happened, the crowd which travels from Brier to Brier to celebrate Canadiana at the one major sports event which brings together all the provinces and the Territories, wouldn't have had the great ride that the so-called Polar Bears gave them Thursday afternoon.
Olympic gold medal winner Kevin Martin had to make a near-miracle run-back double takeout with his last rock to score a 7-6 win over Koe to spoil what would have been one of the greatest upsets in Brier history.
If it had been the same game between the Olympic gold medal winner and Koe's brother, the world champion – both out of Edmonton's Saville Centre who had to battle each other at the Alberta playdowns to get here – it would have been noteworthy, for sure.
But it wouldn't have had the same holy cow effect of the game that came oh so close to happening at this Bear of a Brier.
“It had the makings of one,” said Koe of what would likely have been considered the upset of the new millennium.
The timing of such a moment was interesting.
A few ends before, Eddie “Spuds” MacKenzie and his team from Prince Edward Island shook hands conceding a 12-3 loss to Nova Scotia. Eligible for a $500 fine per player for shaking hands after the fifth end in an 11-1 loss to Ontario, the Islanders, who also lost 12-1 to Newfoundland, 10-3 to Quebec, 9-4 to Manitoba and 9-2 to Alberta and 7-1 to B.C., the Islanders looked like the ultimate argument for bringing on a relegation system until the curlers made their way back to the home end of the ice after shaking hands after getting in the required seven ends this time and were given a huge ovation.
Sheepishly, MacKenzie acknowledged their applause.
And then along came the finish of the Koe-Martin game.
While TSN didn't make the switch to it until the eighth end, it was an outstanding hour of action that added to making this Brier even more memorable.
So, Jamie Koe – brother of Kevin Koe – where do you stand on the controversy?
“Team Canada is certainly a good concept,” he said of the Brier winner getting a return ticket the following year as has long been the case at the Scotties.
He's in favor of that part of it.
It's the other part of the equation that he has a problem with. Due mostly to political correctness, the Canadian Curling Association concept is to create separate “province” status to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
The idea is to relegate teams from the bottom of the standings and create a situation where, as an example, the three Territories and, say, P.E.I. would play in an on-site pre-Brier tournament to produce one team to advance into the actual Brier starting the next day.
“I think the CCA would have a real eye opener trying to find teams from all three Territories to play,” said Koe.
”And then they'd have another eye-opener paying for them all to get down here.”
Just as big of a mistake, from Jamie Koe's point of view, is that all the Territories teams would be coming south without having had any competition.
“I like playing against the Yukon for the right to represent the Territories,” said the skip of the team which ended the Brier with a 3-8 record and a 112-296 all-time record.
“The level of competition helps you to get prepared to come and play here.
If we didn't have that
competition to produce one team for the Territories, I don't think we'd be coming here as ready,” added the skip who was in his fifth Brier and has had 6-5, 5-6, two 3-8s and that 1-10 record.
Having experienced the reaction to both MacKenzie and his team, Koe has a suggest.
“I think the CCA should survey their fans who come to the Brier every year,” he said.
Can't argue with that.
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