Curlers grumble about new timing system used at Canada Cup

Matt Dunstone said the new timing system used at curling’s Canada Cup “has got to go.” Braeden Moskowy felt it was “all cons, no pros” while Brent Laing simply called it “terrible.”

The Season of Champions event served as a test for a new on-ice clock setup that could eventually replace the current model. Instead of the traditional 38 minutes per game, teams had four minutes per end in the first five ends and 4:15 in the last five ends.

In addition, teams had two 90-second timeouts as well as additional 30-second timeouts ahead of a skip’s final throw in each half of the game.

“I thought it literally almost ruined the game in a lot of cases,” Laing said of the new setup.

Supporters of the new system feel it leads to fewer blank ends and helps keep play at a steady pace. Those opposed note that skip stones are sometimes rushed and the pre-shot banter is kept to a minimum.

Laing, a veteran second on Team John Epping, said reaction on his Twitter feed was generally quite mixed, in stark contrast to discussions he had with other curlers last week at Affinity Place.

“I honestly didn’t get one single comment back that was positive,” he said. “It didn’t really make any sense to us.”

Curling Canada brass plan to discuss the test run over the coming weeks although any decision on a permanent change would be made by the World Curling Federation. The system will not be used at the national or world championships played this season in Canada.

“If we want the game to be shorter, especially Curling Canada, let’s just go to eight ends,” Laing said. “If you want the broadcast to be shorter and if that’s what TSN and the fans want, let’s shorten the game. Let’s not ruin it.”

The most glaring issue occurred in the middle of the men’s final last Sunday between Team Kevin Koe and Team Brad Jacobs. An apparent miscommunication between Koe’s team and the officials led to confusion about how much time was remaining.

Koe was called for a time violation even though he said he was told he had enough time to deliver his final throw. His team went on to drop a 5-4 decision to Jacobs.

Laing, who played with Koe last season, said making things more challenging was that 30-second timeouts weren’t added to the countdown clock. Instead, officials would raise their arm while time elapsed, leaving curlers uncertain of how much actual time was left.

On occasion, seconds would also tick away between a curler calling timeout and the countdown clock actually stopping.

“It needs to be done extremely accurately and I don’t think that’s fair to ask of volunteers,” Laing said. “And the extra officials out there (in the final), it was like an officials party on the ice. They were there at both ends. I really didn’t like it.

“I don’t see really the purpose of it. I didn’t know we had a slow play problem in curling to be honest.”

ICE CHIPS

Team Kevin Koe lead Ben Hebert became quite animated when advised of his rink’s time violation in the final game of the Canada Cup.

Players wear microphones during play so their in-game comments can be used for the television broadcast. That didn’t stop Hebert from using colourful language when discussing the violation with an on-ice official.

He also dropped an F-bomb while discussing the situation with members of Team Brad Jacobs.

A Curling Canada spokesman said it wasn’t immediately clear if Hebert would be fined.

———

Team Brad Jacobs has a new substitute player in the lineup this week at the National in Conception Bay South, N.L.

Matt Wozniak will play second for the team at the fourth stop of the Grand Slam of Curling season and E.J. Harnden will move to third.

The roster vacancy was created when third Ryan Fry decided to take an indefinite leave from the team last month. Marc Kennedy filled in at third for the team last week.

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