Curling Canada on Thursday culled the remainder of its 2019-2020 events, but the pandemic is failing to wipe out the sport’s ever-titillating off-season drama.
In Saskatchewan, Kirk Muyres decided to move to second from fourth and leave a team that included his brother and two of his best friends, who happen to be twins.
Saskatchewan champion Team Dunstone, which won bronze at the Brier in Kingston in March, jettisoned second Catlin Schneider to make room for Muyres, who spent sleepless nights pondering the opportunity presented to him about one week ago.
“Everything was up in the air. We hadn’t really talked about next year,” said Muyres, who skipped the rink that included his brother, lead Dallan Muyres, and twin siblings Kevin and Daniel Marsh, who played third and second, respectively.
“It was tough,” Muyres continued, noting Dallan has been supportive of the decision. “I’ve played with my brother for 10 years in the men’s ranks and, growing up, we travelled Saskatchewan playing every weekend. We learned the game together. Kevin and Dan are two of my best friends for a long time and I don’t foresee that changing. We all know how curling is.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited lineup changes across the country.
Among the most notable transactions: Colton Flasch, from Biggar, Sask., was dropped from Kevin Koe’s Calgary-based squad and replaced by one of the sport’s most decorated athletes, John Morris, who takes over at second.
Dunstone — who curls for a Regina-based team, but lives in Kamloops — struck quickly, knowing Flasch’s return to his home province is likely to spur roster shakeups, a ripple effect he would rather lead than follow.
“The whole process of how it works in curling absolutely sucks,” said Dunstone, who had a tough conversation with Schneider last weekend. “You don’t have the general manager who is built for that sort of thing. It’s a very terrible process, to say the least, not fun on any front. You spend two years with that person and make some great memories and win some big games and create a lifetime bond.”
Muyres, who moved to Regina in August, joins a pair of Reginians on the Highland Curling Club-based outfit — third Braeden Moskowy and lead Dustin Kidby — and skip Dunstone, with only the loftiest goals in mind.
“We met on Skype a few days ago and I said, ’Hey, boys. This is the deal. In my career, where I’m at right now, I really want to make that next step. I really want to win that Brier for Saskatchewan and go to the Olympics,’” Muyres said.
“It was overwhelming — that was the goal from the whole group.”
Muyres, from Saint Gregor, Sask., skipped his rink at the last two Saskatchewan provincial championships and squared off against Dunstone in the final both years.
Dunstone won in 2020. Muyres, who has five Brier appearances under his belt, won in 2019.
They were teammates on the Steve Laycock team that won the Saskatchewan provincial title in 2018.
“We’ve been good buddies,” said Muyres, who spent nearly all of six seasons, from 2012 to 2018, playing third for Laycock.
“On the ice, we wanted to beat each other like no one’s business, but that just makes us competitive. Off the ice and in between ends, we always had time to chat or have a quick beer.”
How does he feel about shifting to second from fourth and skip?
“It was a tough decision to make that move, but I used to play third a lot and I’ve always played a caddie role,” Muyres said. “I really enjoy that. I’m going to work to be one of best seconds in the world. Maybe I can add a few things here and help excel them to the next level.
“When Matty turns it on, he doesn’t miss. He makes crazy shots for big points and big wins. I’m excited to be a part of that and share in some of that with those guys.”
Schneider, left to search for work, may have already found it. One source told KTW on Thursday afternoon an announcement is expected within 24 hours.
“It is without a doubt shocking, but I wish them the best and I look forward to a new, fresh start,” Schneider told Claire Hannah of CTV Regina.