Gushue will have none of it

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:54 AM ET

SASKATOON - If you like your Briers with all 10 provinces, a Territories team, no Team Canada and morning draws every day, best you return to the scene of the world's largest gathering of curling fans in history.

Edmonton 2013 may be one last time for old times sake.

Next year, the first Edmonton hosting since the ballistic 2005 Brier drew 281,985 quite likely could be the last one under the current format.

First the good news.

Morning draws

A proposed new format would feature the elimination of morning draws for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Now the bad news:

There could be a Brier without Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick. And quite likely, the winner of the 2013 Edmonton Brier will return to the event the following year, likely in Kamloops, as Team Canada, which has been the concept at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the last 25 years.

"It's possible the changes that are being proposed could come into effect after next year's Brier," CCA events manager Warren Hansen told Sun Media here Sunday.

Nobody is more violently opposed to a relegation concept and a Team Canada concept than Brad Gushue of Newfoundland. And it's not because he began this Brier 0-3 with opening weekend losses to Northern Ontario, Manitoba and Ontario.

The 2006 Olympic gold medal winner, in his ninth Brier, says relegation could cost the event the thing that makes it most special — the celebration of Canadiana.

"What will all the fans do? If you don't know if your province or territory is going to be there for the full Brier week, you're not likely to book flights and hotel rooms to go and be part of it and cheer them on," he said.

"Look at the scene here, with 10,000 fans in the stands and fans from every province in Canada. Why would you want to change this?"

The plan proposes to bring in Nunavut, Yukon and the NWT as separate entities, as well as a Team Canada. For the Scotties, they would introduce Northern Ontario, long a Brier "province".

The relegation round would feature a one-day, three-draw round-robin tournament involving the two lowest in the standings from the previous year and the two that were eliminated in the one-day event the year before.

The two winners of the event to be held on the Thursday in the Brier host city would then go on to begin play two days later at the Brier.

Alberta vs. Qualifier 1. Ontario vs. Qualifier 2. Get your tickets now. The other two would fly home after being allowed to go to the opening banquet and opening ceremonies.

Whoop de doo.

All of this seems to be inspired by political correctness to include Nunavut in the mix.

Gushue doesn't like the Team Canada concept either.

"I like the traditional side of it. You have to battle to get here. It would devalue the six Briers Randy Ferbey won or the four the Richardsons won for Saskatchewan. If the team that wins gets a trip back the next year, it's much more likely teams will dominate the Brier than before."

As for the elimination of morning draws Ö

"I'm definitely NOT opposed to that," he laughed.

Hard to find anybody who wouldn't want that changed.

"On Saturday night, we got out of the rink after 10 p.m. and we had to get up at 6 a.m. to be back for an 8:30 a.m. draw," said Alberta's Kevin Koe.

"As we move along the path, we're finding there are more demands on people's time. The Brier is becoming more of a two-weekend thing," said Hansen.

The eliminated morning draws would be moved to Friday with Saturday featuring a morning draw for tiebreakers, with the 3-4 game in the afternoon and the 1-2 game in the evening.

The semifinal would be held Sunday morning, the bronze-medal game Sunday afternoon and the final Sunday evening.

'LOST MOMENTUM'

"If you came to the final four days, you'd be able to watch 12 draws," said Hansen. "We want the event to build as it goes. We found in Red Deer at the Scotties with no tiebreakers, we had one game on the Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, including the bronze-medal game. The event lost momentum on the final weekend."

I'm with Gushue.

Say no to Team Canada.

Have none of it when it comes to Nunavut.

But hell, yeah, death to the morning draw.


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