I made it home to balmy Toronto (temp +2) today, wrapping up a good week in Edmonton. Some thoughts:
* Overall, the Trials was a great success. I think Jackie-Rae Greening (who is really one of the nicest people you'll ever meet) and her gang did a first-class job of hosting the biggest and easily the best Trials to date. And I've been to them all. Edmonton really is the centre of the curling universe.
* Talking to a number of players over the final weekend, it's clear that Kevin Martin and his team aren't going to win any popularity contests among their peers. Almost to a man, the players I talked to said the new Olympic squad isn't really a team in the true sense -- they are more a business. "I've never seen the four of them do anything together other than curl," said one Western Canadian curler. "I don't know if they really like each other." The betting is that if the team starts losing (which, admittedly is a long shot considering the way they played) at the Olympics, there will be lots of finger-pointing. That said, I have no problems with Kevin and the rest. They've been good to me from a professional standpoint and on the ice, they're mighty impressive.
* TSN pulled in its largest television audience for a curling event ever -- 1.2 million -- for the men's final. The 875k for the women's game was great too. Of course the men's game had the perfect ingredients. Two high-profile teams, one from audience-rich Southwestern Ontario and lots on the line. I don't think they'll surpass this for the gold medal game in Vancouver.
* Possibly the only people in Ontario happy that Glenn Howard lost are the organizers of the sponsorless Ontario men's final. Howard would have passed on the provincials if he'd won the Olympic berth. And the next highest-profile curler in the provincal, Wayne Middaugh, isn't entering so it would have been wide open.
* The CCA seems much better prepared to support its Olympic teams this time around. The winners got $50,000 to help out with travel and accommodation and tickets for family members. At the last Games, Russ Howard told me it cost him $24,000 to bring his family along for the trip to Italy. And there's a designated person -- the Great Jock Tyre -- to look after the needs and wants of the family members.