Skips unite against Brier bronze

Ontario skip Glenn Howard (left) and Alberta skip Kevin Martin share a lighter moment at the Brier...

Ontario skip Glenn Howard (left) and Alberta skip Kevin Martin share a lighter moment at the Brier on Thursday. But they were not smiling when discussing the new bronze medal match. (QMI Agency/Derek Ruttan)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Brad Gushue, Jeff Stoughton, Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard think it's an abomination.

An absolute joke. A total farce.

For the first time in the history of the Tim Hortons Brier there will be a bronze medal game Sunday. And it's the game nobody wants to play.

It's the bright idea to add a gate to the Brier -- at no additional expense in terms of prize money -- and fill a Sunday afternoon void for television.

Only one problem.

Gushue, Stoughton, Martin and Howard all hate it. And two of them will have to play in it.

There were four separate rants here Friday after practices on the idea that the losers of Saturday afternoon's 3-4 game and the loser of Saturday night's semifinal would have to play a bronze medal game Sunday afternoon.

Howard said it's idiotic.

"It's 100% gimicky," ranted Howard.

"It's nothing more than a money-making venture!"

Martin said it's a con.

"It's kind of a shame that people are going to be coming to the bronze medal game Sunday thinking it will be a huge game," said Martin.

"It isn't. To the two teams involved, it is absolutely meaningless.

"I'm sure it will go away. It doesn't make any sense. It has to go away. It makes no sense at all.

"If we lose the 3-4 game, we should go home," said the Alberta skip of the Saturday afternoon playoff against Ontario's Howard.

"Whoever loses that game deserves fourth place.

"If it were the Olympics, you'd crawl across a desert to get a bronze medal. But not at the Brier," concluded the Old Bear.

"You shouldn't continue to play unless you have a chance to win. The number one team has a chance to finish fourth." added Howard.

It's hard to find a subject at the Brier in which the curlers are unanimous. But this appears to be it.

"Of the four teams still playing, none of us wants to play in a bronze medal game," said Manitoba's Stoughton.

"We all want to play in the championship game Sunday night. To the four of us, the bronze medal game Sunday afternoon is an exhibition game.

"In terms of providing another game for TV and financial reasons, I get it. But nobody wants to play it. We all get marketing and TV. But that doesn't change the fact nobody wants to play in the game," said Stoughton.

"It's not what any team here wants to do," said Newfoundland's Gushue.

"We're here for the championship. Once you can't win the championship, you don't want to play again."

While there's the same prize money for finishing third and fourth as there was previously -- $30,000 and $20,000, they actually play for the $10,000 difference in the bronze medal game now.

"We're not here for the money," said Gushue.

"We're here for the championship. We play week in and week out for the money. We come to the Brier to win the Brier."

The fourth place team will receive $20,000 with the other teams each taking home $7,000 except Eddie MacKenzie of PEI who is eligible for $2,000 worth of fines for quitting after five ends in an 11-1 loss to Howard.

The winning team receives $144,000 from Sport Canada over a two-year period, plus $40,000 for being a finalist plus $40,000 for Own The Podium training expenses. Berths into the world championships, Canada Cup and Continental Cup are also included. The Brier final runner-up receives $40,000.

The bronze medal game was part of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this year in Charlottetown and drew 818,000 viewers on TSN while the final drew 1.82 million.

That's the thing. It's a good bet that well over a million people will watch the Brier bronze medal game Sunday. And if they do, the meaningless exhibition game that nobody wants to play isn't going to go away.

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