Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Music stops, players grabbing chairs

It has certainly been a busy spring in the player movement front, hasn't it?

Teams changing, players retiring, moving vans hired . . . and so far there doesn't seem to be too much in the way of bad blood

The latest news came in a Tweet from Paul Wiecek concerning Jeff Stoughton.

It's my understanding that of the top 15 men's teams, only two will not have any sort of change. I believe those would be the rinks skipped by Brad Jacobs and Mike McEwen. Anyone know any differently?

The women's side isn't much different. In fact, there are so many changes the CCA released a notice saying that Jennifer Jones team will remain intact for next year. I know that sounds sort of silly but when you think about it, both teams that won the Canadian titles this year will return as changed rinks.

Actually, for a good rundown on who is going where, we turn to McEwen who penned this blog for the Grand Slam site.

I wonder what effect that will have on the Players Championship getting underway in Summerside, PEI? Might be a bit like the curling version of The Farewell Tour.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Next OCA board meeting notice

Because I know there will be a lot of you who want to go to this, here's the info on the next OCA board meeting.

The meeting of OCA members will take place  April 27, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.


Mississaugua Golf & Country Club
1725 Mississauga Road
Mississauga ON L5H 2K4

Any curler in Ontario can attend the meeting. The agenda will be a lot more provocative than the last one and I suspect it will be a very interesting meeting. I'm going and I'll be carrying a copy of Robert's Rules of Order. 

Hope to see you there. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

US curling under fire from Olympic Committee

Via Curling Zone, here's a story of how the United States Curling Association is under fire from the United States Olympic Committee over the sad state of the American high performance teams.

The StarTribune has the details of how the riot act has been read to the USCA and how there are concerns over future funding.

In a letter sent last month, the USOC said it has “serious concerns” about USA Curling’s ability to meet its obligations as the national governing body for the sport, adding that it could cease funding or sever its ties with the group if it did not make specific changes.

The other side of the story is how any moves will affect the grass roots development of the game. 

The USOC wants USA Curling to adopt some methods that have made other countries successful. But some curlers worry that could eventually end one of its most cherished traditions: the ability for any self-formed team to win  the right to compete at the Olympics or world championships.
Of course, the American performance at the Olympics has been nothing short of awful with just one medal, a bronze, back in 2006. The teams from south of the border haven't been much better at the world championships. For the second largest curling country in the world, it's certainly underwhelming. 

The changes will be decided today at the USCA's spring meeting. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rumours say Martin won't replace Koe

A couple of sources have told me in the last little while that Kevin Martin won't be replacing Kevin Koe on Team Canada for next season. Apparently Martin is going to take some time away from the game and maybe even retire permanently and move into another area of the sport.

Of course when you have multiple Olympic appearances, a gold medal, Brier and world titles, it's not hard to pass up a free trip around the game as Team Canada.

Now the question is who will be the new skip of the Other Three (as we're going to affectionately call them). John Morris? He says no. Dave Nedohin? Maybe they can convince Ferbey to un-retire!

The guessing continues.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Looks like Team Canada will return, kind of

News from Alberta today that the remnants of Team Canada will stay together and look for  anew skip to lead them into next year's Brier.

The Edmonton Sun's Con Grikowsky confirms that Carter Rycroft will be back in the fold after saying he wanted to take next year off.

“I didn’t want to continue curling 14 weeks a year like I’ve been doing for a long time and didn’t want to make a commitment for another four years,” said Rycroft Tuesday.
Of course all that government funding and a free pass to the Brier helps ease the decision.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

OCA needs a communications upgrade

One of the major issues that led to the problems facing the Ontario Curling Association is a lack of communication.

At the March 30 meeting, the OCA acknowledged its shortcomings in this department. Board member Gord Gark even apologized for it. Good on the board for owning up to this.

In my opinion, much of this entire episode could have been prevented or at least lessened had the board communicated with the membership. But as we know, the zone reps, the first link down the chain, weren’t updated of the spat with the CCA. They received no communication from Nov. 24 until mid-March.

I even believe that some of the board members didn’t know what was going on or at least weren’t made fully aware although I don’t have that confirmed.

The board says now that it couldn’t reveal any info or even discuss the situation while it was happening. But if that’s indeed true, then it should have said that. It should have issued a statement or two re-assuring the membership that it was working to put an end to the situation, that it was sorry some resources has been cut off from clubs, that while it couldn’t discuss specifics that it was working with lawyers to act in the best interests of the membership.

But it did none of that. And the best way to get rumours started, to have those brown envelopes dropped off with the media and to have the membership rise up in arms is to not communicate.

At the meeting, the board was even shocked to discover that most in the room didn’t think the OCA website was doing a very good job of disseminating information. Past president Joan O’Leary was the most shocked, saying: “Are we not communicating?”

So moving forward, what should the board do? In my opinion, it needs to take a multi-pronged approach to this and it should be one of the most important things on the board’s plate.

The easiest and most effective (and probably cost effective) way is to harness both the Internet and social media. Currently the OCA has a web site that is basic, along with a moribund Facebook page and Twitter account.

A look at some other associations shows some good activity from B.C., Manitoba, Quebec and PEI. They regularly tweet out information ranging from upcoming courses to sign-up deadlines to scores from competitions. The key is that they are consistent and regular. Curlers come to expect and look for the information.

A monthly electronic newsletter is another easy way to reach the membership. Items can be culled from a variety of sources and board members an other influential people such as ice technicians or players, could offer up regular columns.

The web site isn’t all that bad in my opinion but it could be so much better. Take a look at the CCA’s site and a few of the other provinces’ and you’ll see what can be achieved. You can include so many more people, you can attract more players and keep everyone up to date with just a little more effort.
It really isn’t hard. However easy doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Gark said at the meeting that the board discussed hiring a co-op student. I think it’s a little more important than that and to me that shows how the board views communication.

Right now, there isn’t even a board member whose job it is to oversee communication. In my opinion it should be a fulltime position. The OCA has lots of money in the bank – reportedly more than seven figures – and this would be a good way to utilize some of that and get things back on track by allocating some money for someone to come in and take on this duty.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Canadian world championship expectations aren't fair any more

It shouldn’t surprise us any more when a Canadian team – men, women, junior, senior – doesn’t win a world championship.

But let’s face it: it does.

And when they do win, we think that’s how it should be. It’s not a big deal. Ho-hum.

For the record, this marks the first time since 1991-92 that Canada will go two years without a world men’s title.

We still think we should win every time, all the time and so when a team such as Kevin Koe’s ends up in the bronze medal game it just doesn’t seem right.

Koe’s squad lost back-to-back games to a couple of Nordic teams, first to Thomas Ulsrud in the 1-2 game and then to Oskar Eriksson in the semi and has now been relegated to the much-loathed bronze medal contest.

I’ll give Al Cameron, the excellent CCA communications man, credit for putting the positive spin on things in his release of the situation:

Team Canada will take aim at extending its medal streak at the World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, to 13 years on Sunday (late Saturday in Canada) in the bronze-medal game at Capital Gymnasium.

I’m sure if you asked Koe and team if they’re happy about a bronze medal they’d answer no (of course they still have to win that). I remember many years ago talking to Kerry Burtnyk about losing in the world championship and he said he had to answer for it all summer – no one remembered he won the Brier, everyone wanted to know why he lost the world championship.

It’s obviously different these days as the quality – if not the quantity – of great curlers and teams around the world is great. Still, for Canadian teams it’s win or nothing, I believe.

And that’s probably just not fair. I think in the future, we won’t win as much as used to. Better get used to that.