Gunnlaugson, Carruthers reuniting for next Olympic cycle Samagalski, Njegovan complete all-Manitoba foursome
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/04/2022 (247 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Reid Carruthers and Jason Gunnlaugson are kicking it old school.
Adversaries on the ice for the better part of 15 seasons, the former teammates will reunite on a new men’s squad in time for the 2022-23 competitive season.
Carruthers, Gunnlaugson and Derek Samagalski curled three years together early in their men’s careers, losing the 2006 provincial final to Jeff Stoughton.
The trio has joined forces and will throw in that order, while Connor Njegovan plays lead.
“Back to our roots, where it all started,” Carruthers said Wednesday. “To have four guys, all in Manitoba, wanting to play at an ultra-high level, it just kind of came together.”
The squad is a combination of two players from the current Mike McEwen team and two from Gunnlaugson’s current crew. The foursome has committed for the entirety of the four-year Olympic cycle.
A decision hasn’t been made on which Manitoba curling club the team will represent.
The union comes four years after Carruthers invited McEwen to cross enemy lines and join him, Samagalski and Colin Hodgson out of West St. Paul. The team won a pair of Manitoba titles (2019, ‘22) and competed at four consecutive national Briers, including twice as a wild-card team.
A week ago, the McEwen team announced it was disbanding.
Earlier this week, Gunnlaugson’s Morris-based team of third Adam Casey of Charlottetown, Matt Wozniak and Njegovan also announced a split. The team won the 2020 provincial crown and participated in three straight Briers.
Carruthers, who played third for McEwen, said he was firm on wanting to call the shots.
“I really established in my head that I wanted to skip again. This could be my last quadrennial that I play and I’d like to give it one more go as a skip,” he said. “And Jay was open to the idea. For now, it’s written in pen. But with a guy with that much experience under his belt as a skip, a switch is there if we need to.”
The on-ice dispositions of the two men on the back end couldn’t be more dissimilar.
Carruthers has a calm and collected demeanour, demonstrating that style with aplomb recently as coach of the bronze medal-winning Kerri Einarson team from Gimli (Team Canada) at the world women’s championship in Prince George, B.C.
Meanwhile, the man known as ‘Gunner’ who was once recruited by the Russians to skip that country’s entry at the 2014 Winter Olympics (the plan ultimately was scrapped) is excitable, demonstrative and has one of the most infectious laughs in curling.
“Curling with and against Jason has always been a thrill. He brings a lot of energy to the team. He’s just a great guy,” said Carruthers.
Gunnlaugson isn’t foreign to the third position. He was third for Carruthers from 2006-09 and spent a season in Vernon, B.C., handling the third duties for Jim Cotter.
“Curling with and against Jason has always been a thrill. He brings a lot of energy to the team. He’s just a great guy.” – Reid Carruthers
“We’ve all gained more and more appreciation for each others’ efforts, talents and successes over the last decade or so. I’m really looking forward to playing with Reid again. We are very different people but can be really complementary, which we proved the first time together.
“I’m excited to see what the more mature version of us can achieve.”
The current McEwen and Gunnlaugson teams still have work to do on the Grand Slam of Curling tour this spring before officially parting ways.
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).