Posted at 12:51 pm on February 13, 2013
Last week, Brad Gushue once again captured the Newfoundland and Labrador tankard, earning his team another berth into The Brier. Gushue has been a staple at The Brier ever since he left juniors. But with an ever-changing roster, can the former gold medalist ever claim Canada’s biggest curling prize?
It’s another year, and another roster change for Brad Gushue. As the only remaining member of his winning Olympic team from 2006, Newfoundland’s Golden Boy seems further away from a Brier title than ever before.
Following his Olympic win, Gushue rink put together their most solid Brier performance ever, coming up short in the championship match against Glenn Howard. And it’s been all down-hill ever since. One by one, members of the Olympic team were being dropped from the Gushue roster. Russ Howard, who never intended to a long-term addition to Gushue’s rink, was the first to leave. He was replaced by Chris Schille who was quickly dropped after one season. Jamie Korab, one of the strongest leads in the game, was the next to go. He was later invited back on the team, only to leave again one season later. Ryan Fry seemed like an excellent fit for the team and stayed for a number of seasons, bringing the team a decent amount of success, but still no Brier. He eventually left to head back out west. Finally, Mark Nichols, the heavy-artillery of the Gushue rink, called it quits. Nichols played with Gushue ever since juniors, where they won the World Junior Championship together. Despite saying he was stepping away from professional curling to focus on family life, it wasn’t long before Nichols was sporting the jersey of Gushue’s arch enemy, Jeff Stoughton.
Gushue fell into the trap of thinking he was one good roster change away from winning the Brier. Each year, he would swap out the weakest link in hopes of hitting the magic combination. But before the new team member had time to settle into their new team and develop team chemistry, the season was half over and the frustration of another less-than-ideal season led to another roster change, only to begin the team-building process all over again.
Despite the revolving door roster, Gushue has managed to claw his way into the Brier each year, partially due to his own excellent skipping, and partially due to weak competition in Newfoundland. The 2013 edition of Team Gushue is comprised of young, highly talented men fresh out of the juniors. Brett Gallant, Adam Casey and Geoff Walker have all seen success in junior competition, and with some commitment, this rink could go far. They won’t go far this year, due to the inexperience of the new recruits but if Gushue himself is willing to invest in the long term development of this fresh crop of juniors-alumni, this foursome could be a force in Canadian curling for decades to come.