Now that I’m back in the land of the ice and snow following a California business trip, it’s time to play catch-up. A few thoughts:
• I was deeply disappointed but not really surprised to find out the big pre-Olympic shoot-out has been moved from the Air Canada Centre to the Hershey Centre. I’m sure from an economic standpoint it makes sense, but the real cache of this event was the fact it was going to be held in the Big Arena in the Big City. Moving it to a smaller centre out in the west end of the city brings this down into just another event. When this extravaganza was first announced, Insight Sports CEO Kevin Albrecht told me that this was going to be an opportunity to show the big Toronto business community (what’s left of it) what curling was all about. Do you think you’ll be able to get these guys to head to Mississauga for this? Sure some will come, but not as many as would have been there if it was at the ACC. This is a white flag move, and I can understand the financial realities of it. It was probably the only real solution, but it’s still disappointing.
• Russ Howard wins N.B. That’s good for Russ but I’m sure TSN producer Scott Higgins is now scrambling to fill holes since Russ was supposed to be commentating all week. It’s going to provide an interesting perspective when Russ does get in behind the microphone, sort of like Peyton Manning playing the first half and then broadcasting the second.
• Hey Manitoba. . . get your schedules fixed. This is way too late to be holding your provincial championship.
• Most amazing story at the Scotties: Lorraine Lang is back for another spin. She won her first Canadian championship more than 20 years ago alongside Heather Houston. Of course she was 15 when that happened. Right? Now she’s playing lead for Krista McCarville.
• I managed to pop in to the Spinal Tap at Thornhill last weekend. Ryan Durham should get some sort of award for running this spiel, now in its 18th year. The curling lounge was full of energy and life. Normally, these things start to peter out after this long, but Durham has kept it going and even made it bigger and better. A whole bunch of world champions and curling heroes were on hand to help out. So was Ian Cunningham, head marketing honcho for Capital One. Does anyone do more for curling than Capital One?
• Had dinner with the great John Kawaja while in Carlsbad, Calif., this week. JK is now the head honcho of adidas Golf, part of the TaylorMade empire. He looks to be close to game shape but says he hasn’t thrown a rock in about a decade. His world curling championship hardware is on display at his new abode – albeit quietly. He was also recently “outed” as a curler to his staff. During a sales meeting, the entire staff was shown a video of a piece I fronted on TSN when I showed some old curling pictures to the likes of Mike Weir and Sergio Garcia who were shocked to see the guy they knew as a golf person, as a curler. That piece was followed by about 45 seconds of Kawaja screaming sweeping instructions – he had one of the great yells in the history of the game, as I can fully attest. Everyone had a good laugh at JK’s expense.