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Monday, February 11, 2019

A New Brier Format, Residency Rules and burning Mike Fournier in Effigy

It seems everybody and their dog is giving their opinion on the format of the Brier (and the Scotties), and the impending debate on residency rules.

For those not in the loop on this – here are the issues:

The Brier used to be about representing your Province at the national championship. The Brier has a rich tradition of pomp and pageantry that seemed to draw curling fans and viewers like no other event. It was the ultimate curling experience – it dwarfed the World Championship.
Then the Olympics came to curling. At first, the curling world did not change much. Mike Harris was the first team to go in 1998, and the qualifying process was basically just another bonspiel. You had to win a qualifying event to get to the Olympic Trials – but the teams remained Regional/Provincial.

At around the same time, around the early 2000s, the emergence of pro curlers came about. The best teams in the country decided that the Canadian Curling Association was keeping too much of the spoils of running the Brier, and decided to form their own pro tour and boycott the Brier. They got fledgling Sportsnet on Board, and found enough sponsors to run a Grand Slam of Curling. This was the beginning of the notion that there could be pro curlers. The boycott lasted a few years, and eventually was resolved – but the Brier and the game would no longer be the same.

The big prize became the Olympics. This was the new gold standard of curling – the new goal of serious teams. And from this emerged the notion that the best teams should not be bound by provincial borders. If your goal was to play on the pro tour and represent Canada (not your Province), then why should you be limited in playing with guys from your province?

This trend has continued and evolved until today, where the top 5-6 teams in men’s curling and the top 3-4 teams in women’s curling are essentially pro curlers, and not always from the same province.
From East to West: Gushue, Epping, Jacobs, McEwen, Koe, Jones, Homan, Fleury and Einerson.
These are pro teams. Yes, you can argue that a few other teams should be on the list. And yes, I am sure that a few of the players on these teams have day jobs. But for the most part – these are pro curlers. If they need to make a team change, they will not seek out the next best player in their home province, they will look for the best player in the country.

Example, when Rachel Homan’s 2nd left the team a few years back, she went and got super-sweeper Joanne Countney from Alberta to play 2nd. She did not pick the best player in Ontario, she picked the next best player in Canada.

But while the Pro-Teams have evolved, the rest of us have struggled to keep up. The rest of the curling world continued to play, but opportunities to do so have dwindled. The Slams are an exclusive club; they only invite pro teams to play, plus International Olympic Teams and maybe a couple of other spots to fill out the field. The big cashspiels of old have died off, with only a handful of events remaining.

And what has happened to the Brier? The only way to get to a Brier is still through the provinces. So the pro teams need to playdown just like the rest of us. They have to beat the local amateur teams. 
The Brier (and the Scotties) accommodated the pro teams by allowing one “import” player not from your province. The other 3 players have to be residents of the province they play in. This goes against the idea of finding the best 4 players available, which is why the top teams are pressuring Curling Canada to drop the residency rule altogether.

This has also created some heartburn on the women’s side at Ontario Provincials a few weeks ago, where Rachel Homan got booed and sarcastically nominated for the Sportsmanship award because some say her team violates the residency rule. (Rachel Lives out West, but still plays out of Ontario because of a rule in Ontario that allows you to play for your Province when you are attending school in another province). So despite 2 players on her team “living” in Alberta, she plays out of Ontario. I can see why some teams might be annoyed, but she has to play somewhere! And the idea of Rachel in an Alberta jacket just seems wrong to me.

All this to say this is getting complicated.
So here is the conflict. The Brier (and Scotties) is our National Championship. It is supposed to determine the best team in the country. However, to get there, we still have a structure that is based on Provincial qualification, (with rules that vary by province) and require you to pick players from that given province.

The fear is that if we give up the notion of provinces, we give up what makes the Brier special. Yet if we hold on too tightly to the notion of provinces, we risk making the Brier a 2nd class event.

All of this raises a number of existential questions, and the answers lie at the core of finding a way forward:
  • What makes the Brier magical? What makes it so special?  
  • Do fans need to see the best curlers, or do they want to see their province represented?
  • What do we do with the “Fringe” provinces (like PEI, and the Territories), where only a handful of teams are even signing up? Do they “deserve” a spot at our National Championship?
  • If we started over with a blank piece of paper – how would we do this?

So here is my proposed Brier:

First, let’s start with what we need:

  • We need to have the best teams there. A “Tier-2” Brier just will not sell. If we exclude the Pro teams – the Brier is lost.
  • We need to have some notion of Provincial / Territorial / Regional representation.
  • I think we need to make it somewhat fair from a qualification standpoint. I think one of the biggest problems with the current Brier is the fact that qualifying is unbelievably hard in some provinces/territories and painfully easy in others. This has always been the case, and for sure it is one of the weaknesses of the Brier. It means that you sometimes have mediocre teams at our National championship, and this is not in anyone’s best interest. There is nothing magical about a team that you know will go 0-11 before the week starts.

So here is The Mike Fournier Solution:

12 Teams (screw the pool format):
1.      The 4 top teams in Canada – CTRS – as of January 1st. No residency rules required for these spots. Just 4 players from anywhere in Canada.
2.      7 Regional/Provincial Spots:  Ontario, Man/Sask, Alberta, BC, The North (NWT, YK, NU), QC + NB, The Coast (Nfld, NS, PEI). (same residency rules as today – 3 from the same province + 1 import allowed)
3.      Team Canada -defending champs (no residency rule)

Is this perfect – hell no.

It gives up on the idea of Provincial representation, which kills me.
But I think the ship has already sailed on this one. Provinces just do not mean as much, and at least this addresses one of the big problems: the fact that there is such a monumental disparity between provinces.

As a purist I detest the idea that 4 teams get to go without winning their spot at a Provincial – but the fact is we need to have the best teams in the country there. Look at this year: either Epping or Bottcher will not be there, while there will be a team from Nunavut that would likely not be above .500 in an Ottawa men’s league. As a fan, this makes no sense.

I think there are two principles that we need to hold above all else when qualifying teams for the National Championship:
  1.         The Brier needs to be open to all. You need to be able to sign up, pay your $300 entry, and somebody, somewhere has to beat you for you NOT to go. The fact is – for all the “Joe” teams in Canada, the Brier is the ultimate goal. We need to be able to get there or we will stop playing.
  2.       It needs to be hard to get there. Being in the Top 4 CTRS is damn hard. You need to devote your life to curling. As far as I am concerned, Top 4 means you have earned your spot. And the regions I have defined above would all be very hard to win. There would be no weak teams at the Brier, and every part of the country would be represented.

My solution meets these 2 criteria.

The purists reading this are surely going crazy by now, burning Mike Fournier voodoo dolls in effigy – and trust me I feel your pain. Those who know me know that I love the game, and I am a purist at heart. I cherish my Purple Heart - and what it took to earn it. I love the way the game was, and I am not convinced the way it has evolved is “better”. I railed against relegation, and shudder at the idea of removing residency rules.

But guys – I think the train has left the station; the writing is on the wall. The game has changed – and I am afraid that if the Brier continues trying to please everyone it will end up as an irrelevant 2nd cousin to the Canada Cup, or even worse an 8th Slam that nobody gives a shit about.

Other Good things that might come from this:

  •       It would help get participation back up in the provinces that have a pro team or 2, like Alberta. It has to be pretty discouraging to know that you live in a province where you need to beat Koe to get to the Brier. Look at what has happened to participation in Newfoundland now that Gushue has not been in their provs. for the last 2 years – they actually have teams signing up!
  •       It will make the weaker provinces better. In the East, it will make the Regional events into a big deal – and likely big enough events to hold in arenas –as opposed to a curling club. It will be more competitive, and the team that comes out of it will be more battle-tested. (BTW this is clearly not-in my self-interest - as my road to the Brier will now include beating the best from NB - but I still think it makes for a better event.)
  •       It gets rid of the painful 2 pools system at the Brier
  •       It pretty much solves the residency debate.

Anyway – let the debate begin.


  1. Where does Saskatchewan fit in?

  2. Apologies to my Sasky friends...have adjusted. Would be a combined Man/Sask spot.

    1. With 5-10X the Competitive curlers as BC?

    2. Good point. was also thinking of BC-Alta combined. Or give Sask a spot - and one less CTRS spot. Lots of options.

  3. I don't pretend for a minute to have as great a breadth of understanding of the intricacies and problems of The Brier as you Mike, so I hope you'll pardon me if my comments are naive or simplistic...
    But what occurs to me is this...
    I play several nights a week on teams of different rosters. Like many, I could be playing beside a guy one night, and opposite him the next. Our teams are fluid... players revolve. And teams we throw together for spiels often have wild cards if a regular is unavailable.
    All this is to say, why couldn't/wouldn't the 'pro' teams do something like this, for just The Brier?. Throw-together teams, with the best players of each province, for just this event, representing the province. It occurs to me these teams could be put together with gentlemen's agreements... Guys playing with others from their province with whom they don't normally play, and might otherwise never play with, but perhaps would love to!
    Yah, they wouldn't be the slick pro teams we know, and love. But the faces would be ones we all recognize... The composite teams would likely be interesting, and the shot-making just as good. What's more, the 'Provincial' component would now be right back into the mix of The Brier. All the members would truly represent their given province.
    How you would rank and qualify these teams is beyond me!...LOL. And how this would affect the notion of giving every 'Joe' a shot at The Brier, I don't know. It would put The Brier in a category all it's own, I realize, and I'm not sure if that's good or bad... You decide!.. After The Brier, all the teams disband, and curling life returns to normal!... Crazy idea?

  4. Hi Mike. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the following.

    I envision a grand, over-arching change where (1) teams must declare as amateur or professional at the start of a season, (2) the Grand Slams become professional, but with a set number of amateur teams having a chance to gain entry via play-in tournaments, (3) the Canada Cup becomes the National Championship, with (4) amateur teams only playing for the Brier/Scotties, and the top four earn spots in the Canada Cup. Finally, (5) WCT events would remain open to any teams, professional or amateur, but regional tour events would only be for amateur teams, and professionals would be limited in the number of events they could play in a given year so not to dominate the WCT over amateurs.

    What do you think? Is there enough money in it for teams to actually declare themselves as "professional" under such a scenario (and would enough teams do it)? Perhaps a twist where teams become automatically designated as professional if a certain level of success is achieved? Would be Brier/Scotties remain as successful if they were amateur only and strictly bound by provincial residency rules? Is it simply too big of a change to get off the ground, or is there an incremental path towards such an idea?

    1. Problem is I don't know where to draw the line. "Amateur" teams still play for money - and few would turn down an invite to a Slam or even a Tier 2 Slam.

  5. No easy solution Mike. Would love to see the Brier/Scotties be only for the "amateur" teams. Pick a dollar amount and any teams that win more than that are ineligible. The Brier did fine when the top teams boycotted back in the early 2000's. I am not convinced we need the top 6 or so teams playing. Am a fan of keeping all of the MA's part of the event. Question is what do you win for winning the Brier/Scotties? How does the World Championships fall into this?

  6. To be honest I feel the top is coming back to the pack in most provinces and teams on the rise are the teams made up of all curlers from one Province - McDonald, Bottcher, Muyers...
    Maybe the year after the Olympics is an aberration but I think the pool of pro's that will be shuffling around will be shrinking.

  7. Nobody is going to buy into a Sask/Man scenario!

  8. Excellent discussion! Thank you for your post, and thanks to the folks who commented. I am a recreational curler and avid fan, and from that perspective it looks like the Brier and Scotties processes are really broken. And it feels like the Olympic cycle is, if not the reason, at least the catalyst. I enjoyed reading everyone's perspective here.

  9. Since Saskatchewan hasn't won a Brier since 1980 (and yes I'm old enough to remember that one), I'd be okay with a Sask/Man spot...with some luck we'd have a chance.

    You asked what makes the Brier special - for me, it is the best curling (aside from the Roar of the Rings) - even better than the Worlds and the Olympics. Yes there are teams that haven't much of a hope, but I'm always amazed at how these teams seem to elevate their games against the best teams.

    So...question for you, have you ever thought of becoming involved in the CCA? Perhaps there is away to bring some of your ideas to fruition.

    1. Was on the B of D of Curling Quebec, but tough to do while trying to still curl competitively. Maybe when I retire...:-)

  10. I think the Brier will continue to get the top teams as long as it determines the entry to the World's. It's only if that is taken away that top teams will leave, and the damage to the sport will be colossal if that happens. In my view, rewards to competitive teams should continue to be in slam invitation form and Olympic pre-trial/trial spots. The excitement of the Brier is when teams like Fournier of Quebec or McDonald of Ontario win their province and it's BECAUSE they BEAT the tiered teams to get there that it is so exciting. Why do we feel sorry for the tiered teams if they can't win when it counts? Also, has no-one noticed how emotional even the favourites get when they win a provincial??? That's a lot of magic lost if the format is changed. Also, BC gets their own region? And Quebec combines with NB? How would you feel about mixing Quebec with Ontario and throwing NB in with the Coast ;)? The combinations in your post are pretty arbitrary (although I totally agree with the NORTH)...and ya, too many favours for "elite" teams that already get plenty of credit for being funded to play and too much magic lost a mon avis!

  11. Mike, I've been talking about an idea very similar to this for a while now. I love the forward thinking! I have some different thoughts on how to go about it, but quite similar to your thoughts.

    Brier 12 Team Round Robin (no more pools!)
    1. Big difference here, I say no byes for CTRS
    2. 4 Regional Locations with 3 spots each
    3. No Team Canada

    You can give byes to these regional events to CTRS teams. My initial thought was 4-8 CTRS teams in each. Then 8 spots for each association to distribute. So either 12 teams or 16 teams. If you do 12 a full round robin could work. If you do 16 teams you have 2 pools of 8 and qualify 3 from each pool to a playoff setup that rewards the top two seeds. The idea would be to create 3 Brier Qualifying games for each of these events. 12 games to go to the Brier. Those are the best games to watch and as an athlete compete in.

    This is how the CTRS would have played out this year for these locations:

    Kevin Koe
    Brendan Bottcher
    Karsten Sturmay
    Sean Geall
    Ted Appelman
    Jim Cotter
    Daniel Wenzek
    Josh Barry

    Matt Dunstone
    Reid Carruthers
    Jason Gunnlaugson
    Braden Calvert
    Kirk Muyres
    Tanner Lott
    Kody Hartung
    Dennis Bohn

    Brad Jacobs
    John Epping
    Glenn Howard
    Scott McDonald
    Charley Thomas
    John Willsey
    Tanner Horgan
    Wayne Tuck Jr

    Brad Gushue
    Jamie Murphy
    Stuart Thompson
    Kendal Thompson
    Chad Stevens
    James Grattan
    Scott Jones
    Doug MacKenzie

    I like the 16 team events. That's 32 teams that have a chance to go to the Brier. How they get there is decided by the tour season or winning their provincial qualifying event, whatever that looks like may would be up to the association.

    Can accomplish a few things with this setup:

    1. Developing More Teams on Arena Ice
    2. Equal qualifying for all teams from the start of the season
    3. All Brier qualifying games are televised
    4. Regional rivalries (think current NHL playoffs)

    I think you would see a more competitive Brier and the birth of 4 new must see events. Not to mention that only 4 events would need arena ice. These would be marquee events. And if the Brier is say being hosted in Saskatoon, maybe the Central qualifying event is hosted in Regina to drum up even more interest for the Brier.


    1. Interesting. The purists will hate this even more than they hate my idea! I think it depends on Curling Canada's ability to actually turn the regional events into big, interesting, well-sponsored events.
      BTW - I think you forgot Quebec in your CTRS list of teams - (pretty sure I should be in there somewhere :-))

    2. Attendance may necessitate a guaranteed spot for the host Province

  12. I agree there is a need for change. I like marks idea maybe with a host province spot. Really teams are lying about where they live so need for a change.
    What is the goal participation or elitism?

  13. All the comments and suggestions are from "Curling People". History has proven with the low membership numbers reported by curling clubs that this sport is in a lot of trouble. The only way forward is to begin by understanding where the future lies. Non curlers love watching this sport. Viewers are needed to attract sponsorships. Non curlers want to see their favorite teams. Can you imagine any other sport banning participation due to residency rules? Curlers need to understand that their pettiness and political correctness is killing the sport. Grow up. I am totally fed up with these arguments. I want to see Rachel Homan and "Her" team play Jennifer Jones and "Her" team. The TV is turned off if the game being shown has an inferior team playing. The continual in-fighting by "Curlers" on this subject is killing the game. Reminds me of school house days when you could get your nose punched for suggesting the Canadiens might beat the Leafs. Let the cream rise to the top. The poor kid (Rachel) and most of her team have been playing and representing their country since the age of 4. They paid their dues and sparked a huge interest not just nationally but globally. Due to some pettiness nobody seems to see the silver lining here. But hey we've been doing it this way for a thousand years, why change.

  14. JustLetThemPlay - Non curlers also want to see different teams. I'm a sports fan and I know that watching the same teams at the top over and over is terrible for any sport. Sometimes it's great to see the Red Sox dominate for a bit, but that gets old. Seeing a team like the Jays make a run is great.

    A lot of sports restrict people based on residency or the country they are from, but it's not what I was suggesting anyways.

    My idea was big picture and in the best interest of the sport. Creating more avenues for young/different teams, while still getting your top teams to make it to the show. The best teams will still rise to the top and have all the opportunity to make the National event. You just won't see an auto berth out of NL and these regional events would be excellent curling with the best that Canada has to offer. The idea being that provincials get a lot of heads watching the sport, but Northern Ontario with one of the best teams in the World wasn't on TV and the streaming was subpar at the very best. Create 4, 6, 8 regions of Canada and all of a sudden you have the ability to give fans what they want to see. Teams playing in the most competitive environment with something on the line. Grand Slams wouldn't compare, because as we've seen they are starting to get repetitive.

  15. Lots of good ideas here. One has to remember though the ONLY event that makes money for CC is the Brier, which subsidizes every other Canadian championship. For most fans that travel every year and spend thousands of dollars on tickets, it's for the provincial rivalries, not to see the pro teams they see on tv every 2nd week in the slams. They travel to support their province, AND for the 10 day gathering of fans and friends from coast to coast. The more CC tinkers with the rules, the smaller the fan base in the seats. No longer 15000 people to watch filling the stands, but now purposely picking smaller venues to make it look full. The traveling Brier fan is getting older without the younger fans coming in to replace them.
    Including more CTRS teams is a huge mistake. I can see the day where a Brier will be hosted in say Fredericton, with no team from NB being represented because they lost the regional game to Quebec or NS. Then you would possibly have Team Canada returning from Alberta, then those top 4 CTRS teams all from Alberta. Who wants to spend money to watch an Alberta Brier, other than the remaining AB yearly Brier trekkers that are dying off. An extreme example maybe, but competitive curling in Canada is dying. Won't be long it will be like the women's curling in Scotland. 4 teams in all the land left to compete for their national title, and 3 are juniors. Heavily subsidized and pro curlers are killing the game from the bottom up. #procurlersstaypro #brierforall #itwasneverbroke

    1. So true, the fans should be consulted too, we fill the seats!

  16. A foreign view.

    Ok, none of my business, or as we say here “ave nae dug in this fight”. But that has never stopped me opening my big mouth before. I have played in competition in Canada several times in the last nearly fifty years, but only once went just to watch. My brother and I decided the ’97 Olympic trials would be the highest standard bonspiel of the century, so we should be there. Good call.

    I have not, yet, come over to watch a brier with my pals. We will. Needs to be somewhere none of us have been before, Kingston ticks that box, maybe next year.

    What do we expect to see? Until recently, and to borrow Mike Fournier’s terminology, we would expect to see the ultimate “pro vs joe” competition. I don’t know the names of any curlers from New Brunswick or PEI, but if I was standing behind them watching them play Alberta, perhaps the only time any of them get to play the world’s best – who do you think I am pumping for? The team that plays like I used to, or the perfect robots who spent all summer in the gym?

    Don’t screw this up, guys. I want to see all of Canada, not the 12 best curling teams, I can pay for that any week on Sportsnet.

  17. Your idea is interesting Mike, but I think there's several flaws. What I do think is important is to realign the regions from where teams qualify. For example, PEI may be a province, but based on the number of curlers and clubs it has no more right to have a National Championship berth than Vancouver Island does (which, for the record, has more clubs and curlers than PEI or the trio of Territories for that matter). So drawing the regional boundaries based on population makes a lot more sense and if there is an additional travel burden caused then the CCA should be subsidizing travel costs for teams to reach the various regional level (not zone) championships.

    You are also correct that the Brier would likely fail without the participation of top teams. Which is why it must remain the ONLY avenue for teams to represent Canada and the worlds.

    But let's keep in mind that there really is not true 'Professional Curlers'. They do not earn a sustainable living playing on the WCT (we still play for the same, average $10K first prize as 30 years ago. Money has not increased on the tour it has actually diminished). It' also important to remember that the Slam's survive solely on the help of Capital One's sponsorship. Were they to withdraw that tomorrow, there is no corporate angel in the wings to step in and within a year-two tops-the WCT would be gone.

    Does there need to be stricter residency rules? Absolutely. But it takes courage on the part of not only the CCA leadership but those at Provincial levels as well. In the case of Homan, all that was necessary was one top OCA official to have the huevos to say that Rachel was ineligible. Her participation stretched the intent of the rules beyond acceptability (she lives with her husband in Alberta for crying out loud) and frankly, it's absolute bull shit that she could not put together an Alberta foursome of equal or greater talent than her Ontario team.

    Which brings me to the final, huge lie that the WCT and it's cronies continue to perpetrate; that there are only a few 'best' athletes out there. Nonsense. We have such a deep talent pool in this country that this notion is ridiculous and always has been. Jim Cotter, for example, ignored over a dozen talented BC athletes who easily could have played third in favor of the easy out and importing Steve Laycock. Yes, rules do allow parachuting but it's ultimately damaging to local talent pool development. So the solution? Make any team who wishes to use a free agent pay through the wallet. I'm not talking an extra $100, $1,000 but $5,000 for that player to enter your provincial playdown. These teams already have bigger financial resources than the majority, so if they want to ignore local players then they can afford the extra penalty for doing so.

  18. I think the Provinces make the Brier what it is. Take that away, and you've just got another Slam or Canada Cup, which are almost indistinguishable to me. You win your Province to get your shot at the Brier, and if you win that then you represent all of Canada at Worlds. So let's keep the Provinces, and if that makes "cross-Canada pro teams focused on the Olympics" ineligible, so be it: they don't need to be there for the Brier to be the highlight of the curling calendar.

    We've got 10 Provinces and they all need to be there. Of course that means the winner of Ontario has to do a great deal more than whoever comes out of P.E.I.; but that's the charm of the Brier. I think we can eliminate Northern Ontario now: traveling across Ontario was more onerous 90 years ago than it is today. And to fill in the 12-team field, you have one Northern rep and you bring back Team Canada for promotional purposes.

    So basically I'm proposing the same 12 teams we had at the Tournament of Hearts before any of us ever heard of "relegation" or "wild cards". It worked fine, and should never have been changed in the first place.

  19. Christopher CharlesFebruary 17, 2019 at 2:36 AM

    Following up on my anonymous post above, I'll answer Mike's questions:

    Q. What makes the Brier magical?
    A. Having to win your Province to be there (Team Canada excepted), and having all Provinces represented.

    Q. Do fans need to see the best curlers, or do they want to see their province represented?
    A. I want to see my Province represented. I don't care nearly as much about who is "best" on the World Curling Tour points table, as I care about who wins Brier and Hearts.

    Q. What do we do with the “Fringe” provinces (like PEI, and the Territories), where only a handful of teams are even signing up?
    A. All Provinces must be there. Territories are a different case, because Territories aren't Provinces. Of course, it's true that even added together, they still fall short of the population of P.E.I.; and it's also true that if you include three Northern teams in addition to the Provinces, we're at thirteen teams minimum which is highly inconvenient. But primarily, I'm just treating Territories as "second-class jurisdictions of the Federation". If that makes me a snob, so be it.

    Q. If we started over with a blank piece of paper – how would we do this?
    A. Go back to pre-relegation Hearts model, as described in previous post.

  20. I know you do not like pool play, but how about a hybrid where the top 4 CRTS teams that have not already qualified by Province get in and you have two pools of ten teams to start, then reduce to top 8 for the next round and then top 4 for the page playoff.

    A second idea is that the Brier or Scottie’s winner means that the Province get two entries the next year. Winner of that Province would be Team Canada and runner up would represent the Province. That would force the Team Canada players to actually earn their way back the next year.

  21. I'm not in favour of CTRS berths. Provincial representation is what makes these events unique. Where I think we could move is on residencey requirements. What would be wrong with attaching the provincial residency requirements only to the skip or last rock thrower? There would be far less incentive to fudge one's residency at that point. Would newfoundlanders cheer any less for Gushue if the rest of his team were Albertans? To my eyes, this solution works. You keep the provincial format (I'm open to stuff like combining the territories and cutting the wild card) but you don't put silly restrictions on teams that want to go to the Olympics and represent Canada, and that most people also want to see at national championships.

  22. The thing I do not like about the groupings of provinces is this. It is based on recent history of winners. If we did this 20 years ago would Nova Scotia have deserved their own entry because they had won the Scotties so often (Colleen Jones). Has Manitoba won so often lately or is it only one team (Jennifer Jones), or Ontario (only Rachel Homan), or Newfoundland (Gushue). The reality is that teams come from all over and naturally form originally in their home province. Gushue and Jacobs are examples of this. The centres of curling ebb and flow to a certain extent and would we break up a provincial combo if it became too strong? Would we allow a team of two from Manitoba and two from Sask to represent Man/Sask? Or team of one each from each Maritime provinces to represent the Maritimes? I think it is a solution that causes more issues than it solves. The Brier is different from the slams and should remain so. Perhaps extend the provincial rules in the same way they are extended at the world level? Thus you can curl for your province either by virtue of birth or residency.

    Further if 4 CTRS teams get in with no residency requirement does that mean that they cannot enter their provinces race and only can qualify from CTRS. So that teams that qualify for provincials now how two ways into the Brier? Do the 4 CTRS teams get automatic entry into the Brier before the Provincials are played and so do even enter the provincials or does it work the way it goes now with the 5th place CTRS team getting in if one of the first four wins a province?
    Not everyone wants to see a team go 0-11 at the Brier or Scotties but each province wants to see how their provincial winner stacks up against the top teams in the country even if they do get badly beaten sometimes. This format allows a quality team from a small curling area to win once in a while just as the worlds lets a Germany win once in a while if there happens to be an exceptional team there occasionally.

    The slams are fine (although too repetitive in some ways (a different discussion). The olympic trials are the way they should be but the Brier and Scotties are different animals and should continue to thrive in their provincial format.