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Canadian Press photo/Adrian Wyld — Curlers like Jennifer Jones often quietly react to their missed shots at the Olympic Trials at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. So do most fans in the building.
Canadian Press photo/Adrian Wyld — Curlers like Jennifer Jones often quietly react to their missed shots at the Olympic Trials at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. So do most fans in the building.

Clearing out the notebook: The politeness of curling fans is on display in Ottawa; Gushue's swagger is back

OTTAWA – As we near the playoffs at the Roar of the Rings, time to clear out the notebook, and chime in with a few thoughts that nobody asked for, but …

Robin Short
Robin Short

The other night, when Mike McEwen came up short on his draw to the button, leaving Brad Gushue with a steal of three, you could have heard a pin drop at Canadian Tire Centre. And not because there was nobody — or what seems like nobody in the NHL rink — watching. It's because it's not polite to cheer for a miss, which follows curling etiquette. Hooey, I say. I could help but think if this was Mile One, the place would have went up. And why not? Hockey fans cheer when an opponent misses on a shootout. Basketball fans do everything but stand on their heads to distract players at the foul line. Curling needs a bit of life, and if it means cheering missed shots, do it. And here in Ottawa, any kind of life in the stands would be most welcome … I know Ottawa is a big city, and I know it's an NHL-sized rink and all that, but these Trials, in terms of fan engagement and visibility and fun, are a joke compared to last year's Brier in St. John's. Some folks are still talking about it … One volunteer driver from the area was in St. John's for the Brier and absolutely loved it. She and her husband were in Mile One during the wind storm when the lights went out. One of her favourite memories, she said, was sitting in the stands and people singing in the dark. Yes, speaking of everyone singing, I began to tell her, oh, never mind …

Mind you, this was penned prior to Gushue's game last night against Steve Laycock (which reminds me, full game wraps from the evening draw, and I know you already know this, can be found at www.thetelegram.com. But you get the feeling Gushue could, right now, win wearing slippers. I'll be shocked if Gushue isn't in Sunday's final. Earlier in the week, it was 50-50 when Gushue took the ice. Maybe he'll come out on top, maybe not. Now you're getting the feeling he's winning no matter what. The swagger is there again … Brad Jacobs is done from these Trials, and I'm betting no one is shedding a tear. Easily the most arrogant curling team on the planet. The reigning Olympic gold medalists didn't do anything at the Brier last year, and less here in Ottawa. I'll bet Ryan Fry, who once curled with Gushue, won't be with the team next year. And I'm wondering what the future is for John Morris, who fizzled out at the Trials …

Caught up with Kevin Martin the other day. He's a grandfather now. The man doesn't age … Vic Rauter tells a good story about his long-time TSN broadcast partner Ray Turnbull, who died of cancer a couple of months ago at age 78. It occurred on their last on-air broadcast together. "Ray could get emotional," Rauter says, "and on this day, he did. As I turned to him to thank him for all the great years together, his eyes got a little moist and he said, ‘Thanks Rick.'" … What's the biggest difference you notice with the curlers today vs the rock slingers of, say, 20 years ago? They're all in good shape. Every one of them. There are no more Eddie Werenichs

Brad Gushue is one busy man. On top of his curling, he owns a raft of houses with his father, Ray, a couple of Menchie's frozen yogurt franchises and an Orangetheory fitness franchise with Mark Nichols. On top of that, he's busy on the speaking circuit (he's spoken to about 10 groups in the last few months). And between it all, Gushue is the point man with the curling team in every which way. The team does not have an agent. All bonspiel entries, flight and hotel room bookings are done by Gushue. "I still do all the management of the team," he said. Gushue is also the go-to man with sponsors. "I do it all myself." … Team Gushue currently sits No. 1 on the World Curling Tour's money list, with $89,248 pocketed so far. But he swears nobody is curling for the money, not when you consider the money the team pays out in expenses and whatnot. "I'm not lying," he said. "If somebody was at the level we're at, in hockey or baseball or whatever, they'd be millionaires. But not so much in curling." Gushue graduated from high school a few years ahead of another O'Donel high alumnus, Ryane Clowe. Clowe's last NHL contract, with the New Jersey Devils, called for $24.25 million over five years. "From a money perspective, yeah," Gushue smiled when asked if he wished he'd chosen another sport, "but I've obviously gotten a lot of opportunities through curling, and had a lot of good things have come my way from the sport." …

Robin Short is The Telegram's Sports Editor. He can be reached by email at rshort@thetelegram.com Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort.

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