For those of you who have not heard; Quebec has radically changed its men's provincial format again.
My opinion of the new format: its awesome! Hats off to Curling Quebec for having the balls to have pushed through these changes.
What are the changes? Provincials will now have 10 teams instead of 20.
Who are the 10 teams:
1) The provincial champ
2) The circuit prov champ
3 - 4) the top 2 money winners
The other 6 spots will go to the 12 regions in Quebec.
Qualifying will now have two steps: a regional to qualify 2 teams by region (in mid December), then a super regional to qualify 3 teams from the east and 3 teams from the West. Details are available on the Curling Quebec site if you need 'em.
And most importantly, by dropping to 10 teams Curling Quebec can now combine the men's and women's provincials in ONE WEEK, IN ONE LOCATION.
So why is this such a great thing? Here is 10 reasons:
1. 20 teams was too many. There are not 20 teams in Quebec worthy of being at proivincials. Call me a curling snob - but if you do not practice, if you do not play in spiels, if you are not willing to put in the effort, then the provincials are not for you.
2. The new format will be better: A 10 team round robin makes sense. The old format is ridiculous. 20 teams at provincials makes no sense, and the current page system is a joke. Example: last year, Serge finished 8-1, JM finished 7-2. JM actually beat Serge, but lost to me (in a meaningless game to me where my team was super relaxed and a lot hungover). The difference: Serge has to win 2 out of 3 to go to the Brier. JM needs to win 5 in a row - without the hammer. Makes no sense.
3. There will be women! The atmosphere will be better. The parties will be better. (In my experience, put a bunch of men together in a far away town without women for 8 days - it gets ugly!). This event will kick ass.
4. It will be easier to raise sponsorship $$. It will be easier to draw crowds, and draw attention to the event. Bigger events are easier to fund.
5. It will be easier to get media attention (only one big event to cover).
6. Only one volounteer committee! It gets tougher and tougher evry year to find a group of volounteers ready to put in the time to run these events. This should make it easier.
7. Less shitty teams. Ok this may sound a bit harsh, but the reality is that having 20 teams meant that a lot of your games were against teams that did not belong there. Who wants to pay to go see an event where you can sit in the stands and think that you could do as well as many of the teams on the ice? The first 3 days of provincials often see blowout after blowout, with the big name teams trying to not trip over one of the teams that will likely go 3-6 or 2-7.
8. Going to provincials should be an honor. It should be special. It should be an achievement. For the teams that are not in the top 5 or 6, it will now be special again. It is the kind of achievement that should get you support from your local club. With 20 teams, it was just not that big a deal anymore.
One of my favorite movie quotes - from Tom Hanks in a League of their Own: "Its supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard then everyone would do it. Its the hard that makes it great." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m888nlVxZu8 (skip to the last minute of this clip to see the quote).
It has to be hard to get to provincials.
9. More people in the stands - and curlers. I will actually want to go and see games during the other draw. In all my years at provincials, I never went to see complete games on the other side of the draw. Just having the men's teams watching the women's games and the women watching the men's teams will increase the number of fans in attendance.
10. I will only have to write one blog about the week - not 2!
I'm sure some people will disagree with this format change. People in Sept-Iles or Rouyn-Noranda, who now face the prospect of having to travel to a "pre-provincial" likely are not in love with the new format. I agree this sucks.
My dream is that we increase the stature and profitability of these events, so as to be able to maybe subsidize some travel costs for teams in remote areas. It will not happen right away though, so it will be tough for remote teams. But I think it is a small price to pay.
OTHER THOUGHTS THIS WEEK:
- Guy! Guy! Guy! Guy Hemmings very quietly went to Ontario last week and lost the finals of a big spiel in Brampton. The spiel had some big Ontario names, and Guy earned $2G for his effots. Is this a Guy resurgence?
- I am curling in Valleyfield this weekend. This is smallish, open spiel with decent teams and pretty good ice. Its a good weekend to get a few games in before Alma (the Circuit Championship) and Charlevoix. I will discuss results next week.
- Just reading on CQ website that Ferbey (with Gushue) AND Mike McEwan (a kick-ass cashspiel team from Winnipeg) will be in Charlevoix. This is now the best spiel in Canada, and we should expect to see more quality teams from the West making the trip East. The spiel is exceptionally well run, with a 64 team open happening alongside the 20 team invitational. The Manoir Richelieu is a spectacular host.
This spiel gets bigger and better every year.
And it always falls on the same weekend as my birthday. Awesome.