Canadians not cheering for Jones?

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones looks on as she plays Newfoundland and Labrador. (REUTERS/Shaun...

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones looks on as she plays Newfoundland and Labrador. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:27 PM ET

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. -- The ride from the Charlottetown Civic Centre to the Delta Hotel isn't far, so there's not a lot of time for chit-chat.

But when the driver found out his fare was from Winnipeg, well, he just had to bring up the topic everybody wants to talk about.

"Winnipeg, home of the those two curlers," the man said.

Yes, the Jennifer Jones/Cathy-O saga strikes a chord out here on the Island, too.

But what struck me about the cabbie wasn't that he knew about it, but what he said next.

"All of Canada will be cheering against Jennifer Jones," he said, referring to Wednesday night's highly anticipated game, the first meeting between the four-time Canadian champ and the long-time third she fired last April.

That struck me as kind of odd.

We are talking about Team Canada, which has represented the country at four world championships, Maple Leaf on the back, the whole bit -- winning gold in 2008, bronze a year ago.

Yet, it's not the first time I've heard disparaging words about Jones, and they haven't just hit me in the back of a taxi far from Manitoba. They've come right in her hometown.

Which brings me to the point: The scales of public opinion appear to have tilted away from Winnipeg's most famous corporate lawyer. Jones has gone from hero to villain in the eyes of many Canadians.

The detractors say she's as cold and heartless as granite, and they base this on a number of things, the most recent the most glaring.

It's not just that Jones fired Overton-Clapham -- although that was bad enough for some -- it's how she did it, the critics say, blindsiding her with the news, robbing her of a return trip to the nationals, without a heartfelt face-to-face.

Jones has rubbed people the wrong way before, with her ruthlessness on and off the ice.

The Cathy-O split was Strike 3, apparently, in the batter's box of public opinion.

Asked to take her own swing at the theory, Jones didn't just take the high road, she pretended the ditches with the muck in them don't even exist.

"I don't really think too much about it," she said. "We're received so much support this year, it's been incredible."

Then she said something that insulted the intelligence of every reporter in the scrum: The only negative thing she Has heard about her latest move has been from the media.

Hasn't read a single newspaper article, she claimed. Said she was blissfully unaware how Cathy-O felt about being dumped. And didn't want to know, either.

Yet, we know the two haven't had a real conversation since the firing.

Welcome to the Jennifer Jones bubble, where everything is sunshine and draws to the button.

Then, this: "We were very good friends," Jones said. "Maybe one day that'll come around."

If you can make sense of all that, be my guest.

It's all so cryptic and, frankly, a little plastic.

But in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a bad person.

I don't pretend to have any inside knowledge of what went on between Jones and Cathy-O. From a distance, it looks like any other move by a team that wants to go younger.

No doubt the plan to bring in Kaitlyn Lawes could have been handled much better than it was. When it comes to her sport, Jones isn't exactly warm and fuzzy.

"We try to do our best to work it like a business," teammate Jill Officer said. "But when it comes down to it, curling isn't the NHL or the NFL or the CFL. I sometimes say we're stuck between an amateur sport and a professional sport."

And Jones appears stuck on that conveyor belt of fame, which, once it gets going, seems to go in only one direction.

Until even a cab driver in P.E.I. has made up his mind, whether he's met the woman or not.

The ride from hero to villain, it seems, isn't very far, either.


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