Most of the 32 rinks that will compete in the Viterra Championships being held in Virden February 6-10 have been chosen but a few remaining spots have yet to be won. Local favourite and perennial provincial competitor Graham Freeman has already secured his spot and will have his crew, consisting of son Brooks and the Barkley boys (Cory, Dwayne and Kevin), ready to go come February.
This is the fourth time Virden has hosted this prestigious event with the first one being in 1972, then in 1984 with the last one in 1998. Let's test that memory of yours, shall we.
Trivia time, #1) What was the name of those three championships, and as a hint, they're all different? Trivia #2) Who's the defending champion?
In case you haven't picked up your tickets for the event, Friday is the last day to take advantage of "early bird pricing", meaning it'll only cost you $100 to watch the best curlers in Manitoba. After Friday, it goes up to $125. The winner of the Viterra Championships qualifies for the Tim Horton's Brier being held in Brandon from March 2-9th.
Due to their recent hot streak, the streaking Oil Caps (18-11-1-4) have moved up the ladder and now sit in a tie for fourth place with the Selkirk Steelers, 13 points behind the league-leading Portage Terriers. After playing the Winnipeg Blues Thursday night, the Caps' next home game won't be until after the Christmas holidays, on January 3 vs the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
For those who are interested, the Oil Caps are in second place as far as attendance is concerned, drawing an average 859 fans per game, trailing only the Steinbach Pistons who average 960 per game.
Has anyone noticed the lack of over-all hitting (legal body contact) in the league these days, so much so that many observers are now referencing the NHL as the "No Hit League" and I believe they have a point. It really seems that during the regular season everyone "plays nice" until the playoffs come around, then all bets are off and we have total warfare out there on the frozen pond, clutching and grabbing along with major scrums occurring almost after every whistle. My hope is that the standard that is set during the season continues on throughout the playoffs, but unfortunately, I just know it won't.
Major League Contracts
Just a follow-up on the Blue Jays giving "Tulo" (SS Troy Tulowiski) his outright release, which included the whopping $38 million (US) left on his contract, which many feel is absolutely insane. But if you think this is a record, you'd be wrong. Gilbert Arenas, a three time all-star was let go by the Washington Wizards after he brought two hand guns (not loaded) into the dressing room after being diagnosed with "abnormal" behaviour. The Wizards had enough of his many bizarre actions and told him to go away but not before he took home the $68 million that was left on his contract. Nice little severance package.
Trivia answer, #1) it was called the British Consols in '72, the Labatt Tankard in '84 and the Safeway Select in '98. It also should be noted that whoever wins, they should feel pretty confident going into the Brier because two of three of the previous champions from the Virden Provincials have gone on to win the Brier (Orest Meleschuk in '72 and Mike Riley in '84, in fact Meleschuk went on to win the World's that year). #2) Reid Carruthers from West St. Paul CC. Until next time....