The Jeff Stoughton team is breaking up, with all four members going separate ways at the conclusion of this curling season and the Hall of Fame skip saying Sunday his future in the sport is now uncertain.
"I’d like to keep curling next year — that’s why we’re putting this out there now," Stoughton told the Free Press Sunday afternoon. "But it’s got to be a good fit."
Stoughton said his team — third Jon Mead, second Mark Nichols and lead Reid Carruthers — will curl two final cashpsiel events together this winter — in Grande Prairie, Alta., next weekend and then next month at the Players Championship in Summerside, P.E.I.
Stoughton said the team made the decision to go their separate ways late last week after a disappointing season that saw the team fail to make the playoffs at the Roar of the Rings at the MTS Centre in December and then lose the 3-4 game to Quebec at the Brier in Kamloops earlier this month. They did rebound to defeat Quebec 9-5 to claim the bronze medal.
"We had a lot of success together," said Stoughton, "But we just couldn’t get over that hump these last couple years."
Stoughton said Mead, his longtime third, is uncertain whether he will continue to curl next season, but — like Stoughton — is open to the idea. Stoughton said Nichols — a 2006 Olympic gold medallist with Brad Gushue — has decided to move back home to Newfoundland. Stoughton said Carruthers is uncertain what he intends to do next season.
The Stoughton foursome with the current team members won the last two Manitoba men’s curling championships and also lost the Brier final in 2013 to Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs.
And three of the four team members — Stoughton, Mead and Carruthers — also won a world mens curling championship in 2011.
"I’m open to all the possibilities for next year," said Stoughton. "We’ll see how things play out the next little while... and if nothing comes up, I won’t play next year."
A Manitoba competitive curling scene without Stoughton on it would be a first in over a quarter century. The 50-year-old Charleswood skip won his first Canadian title in 1988 when he skipped a Canadian mixed champion and took down his first of 11 Manitoba men’s titles three years later.
Along the way, Stoughton also won Brier titles in 1996, 1999 and 2011 and world championships in 1996 and 2011.