There’s been plenty of reaction to the curling marriage of Randy Ferbey and Brad Gushue. All of it tinted in varying shades of disbelief.
But Gushue waves it off, reminding the curling masses that his team was similarly aligned at the 2005 Olympic Trials at Halifax with the Newfoundlander tossing the last rocks and veteran Russ Howard standing on the teehead and charged with dispensing second stones.
The lineup endured through the 2006 Olympics at Torino, suggesting that, perhaps, Gushue hopes to restore such good fortune by employing Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey in a similar role this season.
“It’s weird how this all came together but I think it’s meant for more of a change than anything,” says Gushue, who is delivering the last rocks while Ferbey assumes the position he has held through four Brier victories — skipping and throwing third rocks.
“I think that in view of the last number of years, grinding away trying to get a (2010) Olympic Trials spot, we wanted to do something a little different,” admits Gushue. “And that’s all of us. You play the same thing year after year, and it’s nice to just mix things up a little bit. Take a bit of pressure off, just play for a year and then next year when all the points are there for the Olympic Trials you start to go hard again.
“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be this team next year but when we put this together it was a one-year commitment, all of us know that. If we won three or four ‘spiels the rest of the year it might be longer than that but right now we’re taking it game by game, week by week.”
Gushue has no plans to challenge officialdom by bending residency rules to slip Ferbey into the provincial playdowns in January on The Rock.
The seven-time Newfoundland champ will be skipping Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry and a new lead player in his quest for title No. 8.
The neophyte frontman, who already has been practising with the team, is junior graduate Jamie Danbrook who is a new St. John’s resident.
“He’s a good player and we think he’ll be a great addition to the team,” said Gushue.
Danbrook is a British Columbia product who played second for Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna in the 2005 M and M Juniors. He also played lead for Jay Wakefield of New Westminster in the 2008 renewal, and won the national title in 2009 at lead for Brett Gallant of Charlottetown.
Meanwhile, back on the ‘spiel circuit…
“Adding a guy like Randy gives us the opportunity to learn some stuff,” says Gushue. “Plus, changes of position. Ryan gets to play a few more draws at lead. Mark gets to change his position a bit. I get to sweep and try to lose a couple of pounds. It was meant for more of a change and for a little more fun this year.”
Gushue recalls some advantages of relinquishing the teehead role.
“I found in ’06, playing with Russ, some of the little things you don’t have to worry about when you’re on the teehead,
“This way, it lets me focus on the last rocks a little bit more. But, this time around, I find myself worry about that skipping stuff a little bit more, too. I find myself watching the line a little bit more. I still have that skip mentality and I think Randy understands that. I don’t know whether it’s age or a change or what it is. Nevertheless, it definitely does take some of the pressure off.
“The biggest disappointment so far is we’ve played in eight ‘spiels and we’re still waiting to win one. We’ve lost a few finals but we haven’t won one.
“If we’d have come here to the Canada Cup with two or three wins under our belts I’d say it’s been a great year. The fact we haven’t won is a little disappointing.
“But… we’ve qualified in each and every event and that means you’re close.”