March 14, 2011
Lesson in humilityStoughton dig wrong: McEwen
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
“We still believe we’re the best chance Manitoba has to win a Brier.” —Mike McEwen, Feb. 13, in Beausejour.
It was an emotional comment made by a competitive athlete minutes after a bitter defeat.
Mike McEwen’s veiled shot at Jeff Stoughton, right after Stoughton beat him in the provincial final, raised eyebrows throughout the curling community, considering it came from a relatively young, unproven skip, and was aimed at a man who’s probably the best curler Manitoba has ever produced.
Monday, having proved McEwen wrong by winning this province’s first Brier in a dozen years, Stoughton got off a plane and was asked what he had to say in reply.
“Can’t say much,” a grinning Stoughton said. “Just read the newspapers, I guess. What the heck, we’re bringing the Brier title back. You can’t do much better than that.”
No, you can’t.
And to suggest there are still all kinds of hard feelings between these two wouldn’t be accurate.
It turns out McEwen reached out to Stoughton through his good friend, Reid Carruthers, Stoughton’s second, shortly after making his comment.
And nobody took the olive branch and cracked McEwen over the head with it.
“In the heat of the moment something came of Mike that wasn’t quite what he meant,” Jon Mead, Stoughton’s third, said. “There was no shot at us... it was all about the fact they had every confidence they would go out and win this thing, and they were disappointed, as they should be. And they will win this thing.
“We have zero issue with Team McEwen.”
Maybe they owe the 30-year-old a debt of thanks.
After all, the wily Stoughton has been known to draw on things like that.
Stoughton didn’t come right out and say he was motivated by McEwen’s remarks, but lead Steve Gould almost did.
“They’re obviously both very special,” Gould began, talking about his two Brier wins. “What’s funny is both times they thought we had no chance. I guess we did.”
Everyone agrees there are no hard feelings, that McEwen was just so confident in his own team and its chances at the Brier.
“He felt they were a great team, as well, to go,” Stoughton said. “He just forgot to mention we were a great team as well.”
As for McEwen, widely considered Manitoba’s Next One, you could tell over the phone he was wincing at the thought of dredging this up again.
But considering most people don’t realize he apologized, we thought his regrets should be made available to the general public.
“I shouldn’t have said it, and I didn’t really mean it,” McEwen said. “It was one of those things that came out.”
McEwen marvelled at Stoughton’s precision and teamwork in winning the Brier. It made him realize his team’s not quite there, yet.
“Nobody really touched them when the games really mattered,” he said. “It really is nice to see Manitoba put its foot back out there. It seemed like we kind of got lost a bit with all the great teams out of Alberta. Hopefully, it will be our time in the future. I still think we’ve got a ways to go.”
It appears McEwen may have learned a lesson in humility.
“Maybe my first little slip-up,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to take a deep breath. And that’s not always easy to do after a tough loss.”
So maybe all this will help the young gun down the road.
And if it helped inspire the old dog into turning one more trick, who’s complaining?