Familiar face, new rink

Katie Brickman
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Morris to skip with Simmons and Team Canada

The options were endless, but the fit seems just right.

Pat Simmons releases a stone during Super League curling action in October.

John Morris will be the new skip for Team Canada next season.

Morris, originally from Ontario, but skipped a team out of British Columbia this year will join forces with Nolan Thiessen and Carter Rycroft and Moose Jaw’s Pat Simmons.

The change was announced on Tuesday from the Canadian Curling Association.

“It was one of those things where there were lots of options, but I think we had to take into consideration where the Brier is next year and the fact that our team was based out of Alberta,” said Simmons on the change. “We are pleased with that and it should be a good fit. We are excited going forward.”

The trio curled this season with Kevin Koe out of Alberta, but after news broke last month that Koe was moving on to skip another team, they had to decide on their future.

Morris curled this season with Jim Cotter, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky out of Kamloops, B.C.

“My plan was to take the 2014-15 season off as I move ahead in my career as a firefighter,” Morris stated in a release. “But to be able to play for Team Canada, and considering the Alberta events are so close to home, it was hard to pass up this offer.”

Having Morris living in Chestermere, Alta., which is just outside of Calgary, was a major factor in bringing him on board. As well, the Brier next year will be held at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

“There was more than just the curling that we had to consider in regards to this,” said Simmons. “We put high value on where he is from and where the Brier was this year. He is a good choice, regardless of that, as well. He is proven and I think it will be a good fit.”

Rycroft and his wife are expecting a child, so he will only be playing part-time this season, so the team picked up another second.

Ontario’s Scott Bailey will play in the Grand Slam events next year with the team.

“We aren’t playing as much because John can’t play more than that either. Basically, all we are playing in is the Grand Slams, Brier, Canada Cup and the Continental Cup,” said Simmons. “With given everything and given how much he wants to play and what our schedule is going to be like, it worked out well.”

The new team will curl out of the Glencoe Club, the same rink as last year and will be Team Canada at the Brier.

“They have a year to market us now,” said Simmons of the new team.

Given how heavy their schedule was this season with the Brier, the Olympic trials and all other major events, next year will more relaxed.

“The focus is a little different for us. We will be looking to peak for the Brier and Canada Cup,” said Simmons. “Typically when September rolls around, we are getting ready. If this stays true, our first event will be at the very end of October. There will definitely be an onus on practising.”

Simmons is excited for this new chapter to begin, but understands the four of them will have to try and work at making sure they gel together.

“One personnel change makes a new team. We have familiarity with the three of us, but it totally changes team dynamics and there will be some large changes,” said Simmons. “It will be good and a fresh start. Hopefully we can gel together. It is a unique experience in that, as of right now, we are just coming into this for one year.”

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

Organizations: Team Canada, Canadian Curling Association, Scotiabank Saddledome Glencoe Club

Geographic location: Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia Moose Jaw Calgary Kamloops Canada Chestermere

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