Similarly to the column I produced pertaining to the 2016 Scotties, I will pen my thoughts on who I foresee qualifying for the 2016 Brier played in Ottawa,Ontario.
Team Canada-Pat Simmons
Well, after a tumultuous Brier which saw a skip change as we witnessed John Morris self demote third, but through thick and thin this team showed a resilience that when the games begun to really matter, and four world class curlers who were a first year team ended up reigning victorious.
A good start to their World Curling tour campaign has them as the overwhelming favourites in Alberta especially with Simmons bye. Although Brier bound a year ago, this was a first year team that had it's consistency issues, but that can longer be an excuse. Assuming they get there, their one of the favourites to take it home.
British Columbia-Jim Cotter
Far and away the best team out of this province, the knock against them is that they have the propensity to falter in the big game. This will certainly, and has in the past be problematic in the Brier against a world class field, but due to the lack of depth, they'll be Ottawa bound.
With Jeff Stoughton seemingly out of the Manitoba picture, one would think this essentially keeps the door wide open for Mike McEwen, right? Well, although their career accolades speak for themselves, the pressure they feel continually attempting to get out of the province cannot be understated, and Vic's son may their kryptonite this go around.
New Brunswick- Terry Odishaw
Veteran experience will win out this time in New Brunswick. I don't see Mallais repeating once again and the lack of strategical prowess from the James Grattan will make Odishaw the benefactor.
Newfoundland and Labrador-Brad Gushue
One can hope more than two teams enter playdowns on the Rock this time around but in all reality does it really matter? Gushue's Canadian wide unit is so far and ahead of the rest of Newfoundland curling that I'm confident enough to write this pick in with ink.
Northern Ontario-Brad Jacobs
Just like Newfoundland and Labrador, this one is a formality. The 2014 Sochi gold medalists have revolutionized the sport with their increased fitness regime. A force to win the title.
Nova Scotia-Chad Stevens
This is a rink that is criminally underrated. Paul Flemming and Kelly Middlestadt have tangible Brier experience that will prove to be imperative as not only do I believe this foursome is Brier bound but a darkhorse page playoff team to boot.
Wouldn't this be a storybook ending. Electing to dump Craig Savill to bring his son Scott on board, and in the first year win the provincial title? As story book as this would be, the plausibility level is quite high because along with Richard Hart and Wayne Middaugh these four quality individuals have long had the skill level, it's time to show this once again.
Prince Edward Island-Adam Casey
Just because this is the lone Prince Edward Island team that plays on the World Curling tour on a consistent basis, that doesn't necessarily guarantee anything but the "acquisition" of David Mathers I suppose strengthens an already quasi lock.
In what for years was a Jean-Michel Menard dominated province, the new asserted commitment from the former Canadian Junior champion Dion will pose problems for the Menard rink as maybe a new era is upon in Quebec.
Steve Laycock now has enough experience from qualifying deep in some major events, ie his finals qualification in Yorkton against Brad Gushue tells me that even though my home province has other worthy suitors, color me stunned if he doesn't get back.
Northwest Territories-Jamie Koe
Jamie Koe has had a couple deep runs at the Brier, and no, that's not referring to late nights at the patch. The competition levels in the territories are non-existent as travel is difficult, but their yearly Brier trip is inevitable.
The last time he qualified to the Brier, he was Bob Smallwood, the previous time he was Bob Andrews. What surname will be used in his third stint?