Brad Gushue wasn’t thrilled when reports about his curling team’s lineup plans surfaced this week.
What really set him off though were comments made on a curling podcast that suggested he was trying “to convince” Curling Canada to change its residency rule for his team’s benefit.
“That is completely inaccurate, reckless and stupid for them to say that because that’s not the case at all,” Gushue said.
On a Friday podcast titled “Breakups and Shakeups,” the hosts also discussed Team Gushue’s recent addition of EJ Harnden as an alternate and second Brett Gallant’s departure plan, which the team formally announced a day later.
Martin said Team Gushue was trying to pick up Harnden at second but the federation’s residency rule limiting teams to one import player was an issue.
“Brad, I think now, is trying to convince Curling Canada to adjust the rule to do something for them on their behalf,” Hansen said on the podcast. “But to some degree, it’s a problem.”
Gushue, who won Olympic bronze and a Brier title this season, did a series of media interviews after the team confirmed Gallant would be leaving the team at the end of the season.
‘Completely inaccurate and malicious’
In a phone interview with The Canadian Press, Gushue detailed his interaction with the federation.
“When I heard the rumors of Brett leaving months ago, I contacted Curling Canada to see what the plans for the residency rule in the future were,” he said. “That’s been my only communication with Curling Canada. So for [the] narrative to come out that I’m lobbying and pushing is just completely inaccurate and malicious to be quite honest.
In a text message, Hansen said Martin would be available to speak on the matter later Sunday. When reached in the afternoon, Martin said the comment had no negative intent and they will try to fix things by addressing the subject on their next episode.
Martin added that he had a long conversation with Gushue earlier in the day and they have sorted things out.
Gushue, vice Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker said in their statement that the selection process for a new teammate was ongoing and an announcement was expected in the coming weeks.
Gushue to follow rules ‘no matter what they are’
Gushue said he hasn’t heard about any potential residency rule changes for the 2022-23 season.
“For them to go ahead and say anything is not appropriate,” Gushue said of the podcast hosts. “We’re going to follow the residency rules no matter what they are.”
Hansen and Martin are both World Curling Hall of Famers. Hansen was a longtime event director for Curling Canada while Martin, who won Olympic gold in 2010, had Gushue as his alternate when he finished third at the Olympic trials in 2013.
It was a wild week on the curling scene, with several high-profile teams announcing plans to split at the end of the season.
Reports and podcasts on player plans and future lineups — an annual norm in other sports but a once-a-quadrennial experience in curling — served as a jolt for many in the sport perhaps not used to the free-agent frenzy periods that are common elsewhere .
Sourced reporting is nothing new on the sports scene. Sportswriters, broadcasters and television insiders break news all the time before official team announcements are made.
“It’s not a bad thing that there’s interest,” Gallant said. “I think you just hope in general that the teams are able to release the information on their own terms and when it’s appropriate for them.”
Gushue said before a rink announces a lineup change, communication is required with sponsors, family, trainers and others connected with the team.
But of course, the more people know about the developments, the greater the chances the news will come out.
“Busy times in the curling world, me personally [I] like to hear the announcements from the teams rather than from podcasts and blogs, lot of trust and time goes into these decisions, let the teams spill the news,” tweeted Viktor Kjell, who coached the Jennifer Jones team at the Games.
Team Gushue will represent Canada at the April 2-10 world championship in Las Vegas before closing out the campaign with two Grand Slam appearances later in the spring.