First of all - yes I am bitter. I wanted to be at provincials this year, but as many know - we managed to throw up on ourselves in our regional playdown. So I get to stay home on watch provincials on the internet. Grrr.
On the bright side, my extremely pregnant wife is somewhat grateful that I will not be a 5-hour drive away from home in case our 2034 Scotties champion arrives a few days ahead of her expected date. Let's just say that the C-Section that I will be watching will not be one that happens after you lose in the B.
But I will make some predictions. I have consulted experts in Las Vegas, I have called the psychic hotline, I have consulted an astrologer, and I have gazed into a crystal ball. I have come down from the mountaintop - and I will share this knowledge with you. So here are the teams and their odds of winning.
1. JM Ménard: (2-1)
Once again, JM is the odds-on favorite to win. They won a lot this year. They won in Gatineau. They won at Glenmore. They won in Ottawa. they played well at the Slam. They were far and away the best team in Quebec this year. If they do not win, it will be an upset. But, as we found out last season, the finals come down to one game. The astrologer I consulted said:
"With the moon and Jupiter in alignment with Aquarius, Your energies will be high this week and anything you set out to do will have successful end results." I guess this means they will either be going to the Brier, or they are all going to score at the Eclipse (the Montagnais hotel bar) during the week. My bet is the Brier.
2. Marty "Ferly" Ferland: (5-1)
Marty has been on the edge for a few years now. He probably should have gone 2 years ago, and then had a disastrous 3-6 finish in last year's provincials. I believe this is the only team at provincials that has remained unchanged from last year. I predict a good showing for these guys - but they need to start well. This team is driven by emotion - for better or for worse. If things start well - they will destroy a lot of teams - if they start badly, they will destroy a lot of brooms and scoreboards.
3. Serge "the Surgeon" Reid (6-1)
I believe I am on a personal 35-game losing streak against this team. I never want to play these guys again.
Serge was a Cinderella story at Provincials a few years ago, and has played well ever since. Sadly, they have lost Pierre Charette and his giant brain for provincials - who is unavailable due to his commitments to the Grand Slam. I don't expect them to be in the finals - but whenever I count these guys out, they kick ass and prove me wrong.
4. Robert "Magic Bob" Desjardins (10-1)
Bob can do it all. He can make every shot. He can walk on his hands. He can play tennis. But can he take this team to the Brier? I don't think so. But maybe now that Bob has broken the ice and gone to the Brier, perhaps his home-made Sugis have a little more magic left in them.
5. Simon "Nicotine" Dupuis: (10-1)
This team certainly has a lot of experience. And by that I mean that they are old. Very old. Their front end is over 100 years old. This experience and stability will surely help the frequently unstable Simon Dupuis, who looks like he should have a cigarette pack health warning printed on his jacket.
6. Phil Lemay: (10-1)
This team is the extreme opposite of Simon Dupuis. They are young. I won't do the math, but I am guessing that they are less than half the combined age as Simon's team. With youth comes talent, endurance, and a lack of experience and poise. Phil certainly has the tools, and his team is not short of talent. These guys will win some games they are expected to lose, and will lose some games they are expected to win.
7. Steeve Gagnon: (10-1)
I am especially angry at these guys, given that they knocked us out at regionals.
Steeve is a seriously under-rated skip in Quebec. He has skipped at the Brier, and its easy to see why. He is calm, and rarely seems unnerved. I am going to pick these guys to be a surprise this week...they will not win it all but will be playing well into the weekend.
8. Francois Gagné: (12-1)
I know these guys guys are the defending champs (although they have lost Magic Bob at 3rd), but they have had a season almost as brutal as mine...but managed to sneak through Montreal playdowns on their last life. I can't see them doing very well this weekend, but whop really predicted them winning last year?
9. Fred Marchand: (15-1)
This team is sponsored by a mattress company, and they will likely lay down pretty early.
10. Simon Hebert: (20-1)
Simon is magic in the mixed, having won three times in a row. Unfortunately for him, this is not the mixed. My astrologer predicts an early exit for the boys from far away.
11. Kevin Golberg (30-1)
A blast from the past...Kevin is a grizzled veteran that many younger curlers have never even heard of. However, he has not played much lately. As a matter of fact, he told me he hadn't played more than 10 games all season. Unfortunately, he told me this as they were kicking my ass at regionals. Thanks Kevin.
These guys will likely only be competing to not be the first team eliminated.
12. Pierre Gervais (25-1)
Pierre has moments. This will likely not be one of them. Another team that will be sleeping in their own beds by the weekend.
So who will win? The last 2 years have been upsets - but this year the favorite will prevail.
JM at the Brier - you read it here first.
No Curling on the CBC
This week, the CBC surprised the curling world by pulling out of their commitment to show the Grand Slams on the CBC, leaving the tour scrambling to find a replacement TV deal.
Why did they pull out? Not sure- but apparently it is over some financial issues with the company representing the Grand Slams.
Either way - we will not likely see the Martin-Stoughton or McEwan-Howard final.
My question is this:
Have the Grand Slams jumped the shark? Have we seen enough of these? Do we need more curling?
We have the Brier. We have the Olympics. We have the Canada Cup. We have the skins game. We have the World Championships. We have the Scotties. We have the (yawn) Continental Cup. We have the Junior Championships.
Is it possible that we now have too much of a good thing? Do we need to see more curling on TV?
Honestly, I am as big a curling fan as there is - and you cannot pry me away from my TV during the Brier, but to be honest - I can take or leave the Slams. I get the impression that the only people really disappointed by the CBC's decision are the players.
Maybe - there should be only one big televised tour event - like the Tour Championship - instead of the 4 Grand Slam spiels.
Surely the Tour will scramble and find another network (likely Sportsnet) to pick up the coverage where the CBC has left off, but maybe its time to re-think how-much curling we need to have on TV.