While many provinces and regions lament the lack of teams entering the provincial playdowns -- both men's and women's --what's transpired in Newfoundland and Labrador will set a new standard. And that would be on the not-so-good scale.
According to the St. John's Telegram, just two teams are entered in the provincial men's playdowns this year.
Peddigrew, along with last year’s runner-up Colin Thomas and others local skips such as Andrew Symonds and Trent Skanes, won’t be making the trip to the Big Land in an attempt to dethrone Brad Gushue, the reigning 11-time provincial champion. Instead, Gushue and company will be pitted against the Carol Curling Club’s Gary Wensman in a best-of-five spiel to decided who will represent the province at the Tim Horton’s Brier later this month in Calgary.Yup, that's right. There are only two teams playing down for a Purple Heart. I'm sure somewhere in Manitoba there are teams checking the residency rules for Canada's most easterly province. Heck, in some places in this country there are more than two teams playing down to get out of the club.
Of course the reason for all of this is that one of the two teams is so much better than the rest, the other teams just decided to save their money. Brad Gushue has won the the crown 11 times and there's a good chance he'll win in again. Yes, he's pretty dominant.
That Gushue has lost just one Tankard match in since — a 2010 defeat at the hands of Matt Blandford — is a big reason why Newfoundland and Labrador Curling Association (NLCA) president Gary Oke says other competitive teams are unwilling to fork over thousands of dollars to travel off the island.
“You can’t blame Brad for doing what he does and doing it very well. He’s one of the best in the world,” Oke says.
“But how many times can you beat your head against the wall?“He doesn’t only beat teams, he really dominates them. I always consider that if I’m close to beating a team, if I work a little harder or think a little better, I’ve got a chance at beating that team. But when he beats you 8-2 all the time, it’s tough.”