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Kennedy confirms move to Koe rink

Marc Kennedy of St. Albert is leaving the Kevin Martin rink to curl with Kevin Koe next season

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 02:45 pm

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  • KENNEDY DELIVERS - Olympic gold medallist Marc Kennedy was the guest speaker at the Canadian Open Stick Curling Championship on Tuesday night at the St. Albert Curling Club. The southpaw second for the Kevin Martin rink announced he will be joining the Kevin Koe team next season.
    KENNEDY DELIVERS - Olympic gold medallist Marc Kennedy was the guest speaker at the Canadian Open Stick Curling Championship on Tuesday night at the St. Albert Curling Club. The southpaw second for the Kevin Martin rink announced he will be joining the Kevin Koe team next season.
    JEFF HANSEN/St. Albert Gazette
  • GOLDEN MOMENT - Joanne and Kevin Baldock of the Salmon Arm Curling Club show off Marc Kennedy's Olympic gold medal at the Canadian Open Stick Curling Championship banquet Tuesday at the St. Albert Curling Club. Kennedy was the banquet's guest speaker and shared his gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games with the audience. The Baldocks were among 48 two-person stick curling teams competing at the 10th annual national championship.
    GOLDEN MOMENT - Joanne and Kevin Baldock of the Salmon Arm Curling Club show off Marc Kennedy's Olympic gold medal at the Canadian Open Stick Curling Championship banquet Tuesday at the St. Albert Curling Club. Kennedy was the banquet's guest speaker and shared his gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games with the audience. The Baldocks were among 48 two-person stick curling teams competing at the 10th annual national championship.

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It’s official: Marc Kennedy will curl for Kevin Koe’s rink next season.

Kennedy made the announcement at the 10th annual Canadian Open Stick Curling Championship in St. Albert.

“I can’t talk about it too much but I am playing with Kevin Koe next year,” said the guest speaker at Tuesday’s banquet, to a round of applause.

The worst kept secret in curling percolated at the Tim Hortons Brier in Kamloops last month, as the Calgary-based Koe team of third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen won Alberta’s 26th Brier Tankard.

Last month Kevin Martin confirmed the front-end tandem of Kennedy and Ben Hebert would be leaving his rink to hook up with Koe. It was also reported that Brent Laing of the Glenn Howard rink would join the Koe foursome.

The status of Simmons and Thiessen was unclear and before the Boston Pizza Cup provincials Rycroft said he was going to take a year off from the sport.

Another thorny issue is Koe’s status as the first Team Canada rink at the 2015 Brier in Calgary. The Canadian Curling Association guidelines state that at least three players from the Brier champions have to continue with that rink as Team Canada or forfeit their spot to the Brier runners-up.

With the proposed new-look lineup, Koe would be ineligible for next year’s Brier and the John Morris/Jim Cotter rink of British Columbia would wear the maple leaf.

After his speech Kennedy was reluctant to go into details about the move with the Koe rink, including alternate Jamie King of St. Albert, competing at worlds in Beijing.

“We told who we needed to tell and we’re going to wait until the worlds are over before we can really comment or discuss it,” Kennedy told the Gazette. “There is a lot of friends and teammates involved in this whole thing.”

Kennedy, 32, acknowledged the rumours surrounding the lineup shuffle were fairly accurate after word surfaced following the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials in December that Martin might step away from the competitive circuit.

“I can’t deny them. A lot of them are true,” said the southpaw second. “It’s pretty much been confirmed. There is no hiding who is playing with who anymore. The issue is we’re not going to discuss the timing or why we did it or who did what until (Koe is) done at worlds. They have a job to do over there and they don’t want to be distracted any more than they already are. We want them to win and we want them to do their best and we’ll worry about everything else at the end of the day.”

Eight years

The last hurrah for the Martin rink, featuring Dave Nedohin at third, is the Players’ Championship, April 15 to 20 at Summerside, P.E.I.

The Martin, Kennedy, Hebert trio, along with Morris before he left the rink after the 2012/13 season and was replaced by Nedohin, won five provincial titles, two Briers, a world championship in 2008 and Olympic gold in 2010.

“We’ve had eight great years together for Ben and Kevin and myself and we’ve had a great year with Dave,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to be hard (at the Players’ Championship) but with that change comes some excitement for what’s to come and starting a new Olympic run and all the energy that comes with that is going to be great. We just want to get through these next couple of weeks without too much negativity and try to keep it as low key as possible.”

On the World Curling Tour this season Martin ranks third on the money list at $66,400 and is eighth in the Order of Merit standings.

Martin is also 41-13 in eight WCT events after going 4-2 for sixth place and $7,000 at the Syncrude Nationals last month in Fort McMurray.

“It was a bittersweet year in the sense we were so close so many times and couldn’t quite finish it off,” Kennedy said. “We put ourselves in so many opportunities to win and just didn’t win the big games, which for us over the years, we won those big games a lot so to be on the other side of those big losses, yeah it was tough, but considering what we did in bringing a new player in, I think it was a very successful year. At provincials we made the final quite easily (and lost 7-5 to Koe). At the trials (6-2 record) we made the semis. We kept putting ourselves in these great chances to win, we just couldn’t quite finish it off.”

It was only natural Kennedy would spill the beans about the change in teammates at his hometown rink, where he was inducted into the club’s wall of fame in 2011. During a riveting talk, and to the delight of a captivated audience, the RBC Olympians’ ambassador pulled out his Olympic gold medal for everybody to pass around the Friendly Giant Lounge.

“It should touch every hand in Canada because everyone was a part of us winning it,” Kennedy said.

After the speech the Paul Kane High School alumnus and former St. Albert Storm quarterback received a rousing standing ovation.

“I was happy I got asked to do this tonight. Anything I get asked to do in St. Albert, I love it. The city is still so close to my heart and especially this curling club and seeing a successful curling event run here is wonderful.

“Coming into the club is still nostalgic for me. I still feel like a little kid here. It’s been wonderful and the reception for myself and my wife, Nicole, is always great when we come here. I couldn’t ask for a better night and I love being involved in this type of event.”


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