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Roar of the Rings

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stoughton hits button with barb

Wisecrack about Maritime rinks draws fierce Twitter retorts

Posted: 12/7/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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And in the end -- just like in the beginning and in the middle -- Jeff Stoughton just couldn't help himself.

"I can get in trouble here," Stoughton correctly predicted at the MTS Centre on Friday morning when asked his thoughts on playing a meaningless round-robin game against Ontario's Glenn Howard on the final draw of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.

And then, as he has done so often before in a 25-year curling career, Stoughton did just that anyway and pulled the trigger:

"Oh what the heck -- We know what P.E.I. and Nova Scotia feel like on a Wednesday during the Brier."

Ba-da-boom.

It was funny, of course, because it's true -- P.E.I. and Nova Scotia do play a lot of meaningless games late in the Brier round-robin, mostly because they're not usually very good.

But Stoughton's quip not surprisingly touched a nerve out in the Maritimes and within minutes of offering up that parting shot to the media, he was being ripped on Twitter by people with handles such as "spuddoc" who had this to say: "With comments like that from Stoughton, it's no wonder I've never been a fan of his #classless."

Someone named "Team Lecocq" out in New Brunswick was also less than impressed: "and people clap for this guy? Classless comment if he did say it. #goodbye fossil. Not gonna miss ya."

A lot of others will, however. And especially here in Manitoba, where the winningest men's curler in provincial history drew a huge ovation at the conclusion of a 9-3 win over Howard that will in all likelihood be his final appearance at an Olympic curling trials.

In a game in which both teams had been eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night, Stoughton, 50, and Howard, nonetheless did their best to make the game entertaining, playing a wild skins format that saw lots of rocks in play every end and with Stoughton at one point even briefly wearing a goofy white toque.

Say what you want about the guy -- in a sport so often accused of being boring, Stoughton always did his very best to make it entertaining, on and off the ice.

So what now? Quite a bit, actually, said Stoughton, naming the world men's curling championship in Beijing in April 2014 as his next goal.

"That'd be pretty fun," said Stoughton. "And we have the Continental Cup in Vegas (in mid-January). And the provincials at the end of January. And then we have two more Slams after that. So there's lots of curling left, that's for sure."

And beyond this year? "Well, I guess it depends how we do at the end of January. If we get to go to the Brier, that'd be great... We'll play it by ear after that."

So, if you won the Brier this winter, your team might come back and defend your Canadian title next year?

"I don't know about the team. It's hard to say what Mark's up to -- if he wants to go home or he's staying. Who knows what's going on? So like I said, we'll play it by ear after the end of the year."

"Mark" is of course Stoughton lead Mark Nichols, who moved from Newfoundland in 2012 to take a run at the Trials with Stoughton this week.

Nichols said Friday he hasn't decided what he's doing after this winter. "I have no idea. We started talking about it a little bit last night, myself and my wife. We really didn't talk about it to this point -- everything was about the Trials... So there will be a lot of chat over the holidays and we'll weigh our options..."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 C4

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