Another nail went into the coffin of the Alberta rink on Tuesday night when James Grattan handed Kevin Martin and his rink their fourth loss. Barring a late run that will mean the Olympic gold medalists will be champions only in the Patch.
John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal summed it up in a great piece on the rink's struggles:
Kevin Martin’s long-awaited hometown Brier has unravelled into a full-blown disaster, as inexplicable as it has been painful for the 46-year-old skip. The Old Bear has been vulnerable early and often at the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier and his opponents have pounced. James Grattan of New Brunswick, his Brier history distinguished mostly by the number of times (nine before this year) he has been part of also-ran teams, was just the most recent of Martin’s predators on Tuesday. Grattan, 38, nailed alast-rock tap back to beat Martin 6-5.
Paul Wiecek also dealt with the Martin slide and even dealt with what appears to be some dissention in the ranks.
Martin, who was offended last weekend when it was suggested that perhaps his team wasn't getting along on the ice, wasn't so defiant when he was asked again Tuesday if the team's chemistry wasn't working.
Actually, teams with four losses get into the playoffs quite often, but of course that would mean running the table and the way the Alberta rink is playing, that would be a tough proposition. However, as John Morris said, there’s also the small matter of the opposition who seem to rise to the occasion to beat up on Martin:
“If you look at the stats, how did Quebec and Northern Ontario and New Brunswick play against us?” Morris said. “Was it not 100 per cent?
Morris also came to the defense of his skip, who seems to be struggling mightily with those new CCA-owned rocks.
“I’ll tell you what, when I wasn’t playing with Kevin Martin, I wanted to kick Kevin Martin’s butt,” said Morris, who was an Ottawa-based skip for several years before he relocated to Alberta. “And I’m sure every other team here wants to kick his butt. “He’s won a lot of curling games throughout his whole life. When you’re on top and when you’re winning, guys want to knock you off. They’ve wanted to for several years with our team, and we’ve been able to hold our ground. Now, it just seems we’ve fallen just a hair and the other teams are ... again, they just played 95 per cent against us again.