I thought I was done with curling until September or so, but then someone nicely asked me in the comments section what I think about Randy Ferby, a curler I'm not exactly fond of, joining Brad Gushue's team. And so, what the hell...
There is a bit of history between the two, going back to some comments made at a Brier years ago, but I understand that's all water under the bridge. I certainly understand why Ferby would want to jump at the chance to curl with Gushue. Ferby surely knows he doesn't have too many years left of being able to curl at a national level. And he's done trying to get out of Alberta to curl at a Brier. Next year at the Alberta provincial playdowns the defending Olympic gold medalist, Kevin Martin, will likely play the defending Canadian and World champion in Kevin Koe. Not much chance of Ferby sneaking out a couple of upsets past those two to make it to the Brier.
So yeah, why not jump at the chance to curl with Gushue. He's practically guaranteed to play at the Brier next year as there is no competition for him in Newfoundland. I think residency requirements mean that Ferby has to live in Newfoundland, so if he's willing to do that, then it's a good thing for him. He might even get another shot at the Olympics if he can tough it out for four more years.
However, I have no earthly idea why Gushue thinks this is a good idea.
When he went and got Russ Howard back in 2005, it was a stroke of genius. Howard is/was a great curler and a brilliant strategist. He gave the Gushue team some wisdom and needed maturity. He talked them down from making the dramatic high risk/low percentage shots they were always so fond of.
But Gushue has gotten to be quite a good skip over the last four years. In terms of skills and strategy, he's probably one of the top five skips in Canada. So yes, Ferby certainly brings a lot of wisdom and decent shot making skills, but I'm not sure that's what the Gushue rink needed.
It was pretty clear at the end of the Brier Gushue was frustrated. It doesn't surprise me at all that he was going to try and change things up a bit. I just don't think Ferby is what he needed. What he needed was a new front end. That Jamie Korab chose to leave doesn't shock me that much. I'm not sure his head and heart were really into it that much since the Olympics. And he wasn't shooting all that well during that last Brier. And Ryan Fry doesn't wow me that much either. His shooting was pretty average, he complained a lot and his strategy advice during the last Brier was insane. What Gushue needed was a lead who could actually throw a guard and a more consistent second.
Instead, he's got an aging skip looking for one last shot of glory shooting Third, one of the best Thirds in the game being bumped down to Second stone (and don't underestimate Nichols ability to get his team out of a jam by clearing out a ton of crap with accurate bomb take-out weight) and Fry, who is also known more for his take-outs than his draws, being placed as Lead.
So yeah, I think a shake-up is a good thing and probably needed. I just don't think this was the way to go. We'll see if it works, but I won't be at all surprised when it doesn't.
1. An speic seoigheach - The Chieftains
2. Closing time - Tom Waits
3. No change in me - Ron Hynes*
4. Honour, riches/Breakwater boys breakdown (live) - Figgy Duff
5. Mandolin rain - Bruce Hornsby