The Curling News Blog

Big change for Jennifer Jones

Jones (left) and Overton-Clapham in Korea

If you shut down your computer early last night, preferring to attempt – once again – to engage Season 3 of Lost, then you missed the big news.

Jennifer Jones has shaken up her curling team, again, this time dumping third stone Cathy Overton-Clapham. The official team news release is published here; the Canwest story can be seen here; and Canwest author Al Cameron blogs his thoughts here (internet mouth-breathers: HA!).

Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Sun was the first out of the gate with Overton-Clapham’s thoughts, which you can read here, closely followed by the Free Press, which called up former curling beat writer Paul Wiecek for the job.

So, what’s our view? And whom do we think will be the new third?

One can be both surprised and yet unsurprised by this development. Yes, this is the first time Jones has made such a move as current (three-time) defending Canadian champion, and there’s more than just next year’s STOH national on tap… the squad will also compete in the Canada Cup and Continental Cup competitions.

“Who we gonna get?” “Dunno, but let's keep reading...”

And yet, one wonders how things could have stayed the same. Overton-Clapham is 41 while the others are younger; she has struggled with a chronic knee injury; and the next Olympic Winter Games are four long years away.

Then there’s the uncomfortable reality of recent Team Jones performances. They are a gritty, never-say-die bunch but they can’t be too happy with their world playoff record in recent years. And forget Glenn Howard’s continuing disappointment over losing the men’s Olympic Trials final: how do you think the Jones gang has felt all season, being one of the first women’s teams to be eliminated from Olympic contention in Edmonton?

However, Overton-Clapham – the most decorated curler in Manitoba women’s history – did play like gangbusters at both the Scotties  and the Ford Worlds in Swift Current. She put in magnificent performances.

In the end, all we’re left with is the team’s final event, the Grey Power Players’ Championship in Dawson Creek, which wound up last weekend – yet another thing we need to catch up on here at ye olde TCN Blog.

Team Jones went 2-0 to start their Players’ title defense and then lost 6-2 in six ends to rival Kelly Scott. The came a crushing 9-1 loss to Stefanie Lawton in just three ends, where Jones dropped a three-ender to start the match and then a whopping six-count in the third.

Jones left the ice long before the six-end minimum game requirement, prompting a letter from the World Curling Players’ Association to be hand-delivered to her before her next match (any additional disciplinary action that may have been taken is unknown).

Could it be... Kaitlyn?

The squad then dropped a steal of two to open their C-qualifier against Winnipeg’s Kerri Flett, scored one in the second and then stole a huge three in the third end, en route to an 8-4 win.

Their quarterfinal loss (6-3) to eventual champion – and professional scoreboard manager – Cheryl Bernard proved to be their last game together.

Our view is that something had to happen – fire the coach(es), even? – but the skip-plus-two decided on making a move a third position. So, who will Team Jones welcome into the fold?

Manitoba curling veteran Resby Coutts can see only three (local) replacement candidates. We think he’s missing someone fairly obvious, although to be fair she has been hanging out in Edmonton recently.

We’re talking about Kaitlyn Lawes (WCF photo at left by Andrew Klaver). The 2008 and 2009 Canadian Junior champion skip – who took bronze and then silver at the world juniors – has been playing with veteran Cathy King. With King and Raylene Rocque now retired, Lawes has been quietly looking at team options in both Edmonton and Winnipeg, and is reportedly willing to skip or play third.

First Ferbey and Gushue (yes, another thing we need to comment on) and now this. What an interesting April this has been.

Here’s a quick rundown of Team Jennifer Jones – World Curling Tour only – for the 2009-10 season:

WINNINGS: $55,078
WCT RANKING: 1
GAMES: 59
RECORD: 45-14
EXTRA ENDS: 4W, 5L
ONE-POINT GAMES: 12W, 8L
POINTS FOR/GAME: 8.63
POINTS AGAINST/GAME: 5.82
HAMMER EFFICIENCY: 0.47
STEAL DEFENSE: 0.18
FORCE EFFICIENCY: 0.66
STEAL EFFICIENCY: 0.27

(22-6 won/loss record in CCA/WCF events)

[First two WCF photos by Lee Young Gyu]

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