Darren Moulding had seen signs of fracture within Team Bottcher well before things came to a head for the reigning national men’s champions this week.
A group text about a sponsorship request led to an in-person team meeting at the Edmonton home of lead Karrick Martin on Friday evening. Moulding was joined at the sitdown by Martin, skip Brendan Bottcher and second Brad Thiessen.
“When I showed up, I walked in the door and they basically just told me I was cut,” Moulding said.
Team Bottcher issued a statement later Friday night confirming Moulding’s departure. The release added he’d be “taking time away from the game for personal reasons,” something Moulding described on Twitter as a “complete BS statement.”
This is a complete bs statement… I’m very disappointed that the team didn’t put out an accurate statement on my status. I am not taking time away from the game… I’m ready, willing and able to play. I was planning to defend my title as team Canada in Lethbridge. <a href=”https://t.co/zYEuOMDueL”>https://t.co/zYEuOMDueL</a>
For a team that’s ranked sixth in the world and will soon wear the Maple Leaf at the Tim Hortons Brier, the mid-season move — even after a disappointing showing at Canada’s Olympic trials — came as a major surprise.
The team said it planned to name a new teammate at a later date. Bottcher said he’d have no further comment until a media availability Monday, which was later rescheduled for Sunday afternoon via a Curling Canada conference call.
Moulding, reached by The Canadian Press at his home in Lacombe, Alta., said ripples within the team started to reach a higher level when coach Don Bartlett joined them at the Brier for the first time in 2020.
“I kind of stuck up for them,” Moulding said. “Starting there, basically he was unwilling to make it right and do what needed to be done to fix the problem and I wouldn’t back down. So he just decided he’d had enough of me.”
Moulding said he wanted a better business structure within the team and basically “took the bullet” for trying to get some transparency.
“That went over like a lead balloon,” he said. “Brendan doesn’t like that. If he can’t control everything all the time, then he’s going to need to find somebody that just lets him do it. It’ll be interesting to see who can handle that.”
Specifics on team revenue and split percentages from prize payouts were not available.
‘If I’m part of the team I want it to be equal share’
“If I’m part of the team I want it to be equal share,” Moulding said. “That means not just monetarily but also in having a say in how we do things and being able to see how we do things and having transparency. So it’s definitely a business issue.
“It was never indicated to me that it was a performance issue. At the trials, obviously Brendan struggled there. Everybody saw the games on TV. They know what happened.”
Bottcher, who won a world junior title in 2012, was 3-5 to settle for a fifth-place tie in round-robin play at SaskTel Centre, coming well short of the playoff cut.
Moulding said he called the team meeting after Bottcher “kind of freaked out on me” in a reply to his group text. He described the skip as someone who was typically “very defensive,” who could get “upset and emotional.”
“He’d be lashing out at me for no reason and not making very much sense,” Moulding said. “The other two guys just sit there. They don’t say anything. They’ve been curling with him for a long time and I think they know that if they say something, they’re afraid to get cut, which is sad because they’re both really good players.
Moulding was initially hoping to find out why the skip was upset. Instead the meeting focused on reasons why he was out.
“I asked why and Brendan just said that I’ve said hurtful things about Don and him, which I disagree [with], but I just told the truth about a couple things that I saw happening in the team that I didn’t like,” he said.
“I had to stick to my morals and my values and I wouldn’t let him off the hook. Sometimes telling the truth gets you in trouble, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong thing to do.”
Moulding later updated his Twitter profile bio to read: “Proud Dad, Free Agent Curler.”
An accompanying picture of the members of Team Bottcher was changed to a sunset over a lake.
‘I’m healthy, happy and I’ll play any time’
“I can assure you that I’m healthy, happy and I’ll play any time,” Moulding said. “I don’t have any personal reasons that prevent me from curling. So that [statement] was unfair because that can affect my curling career. They’re allowed to cut me. It sucks, the timing sucks. They could have just said, ‘We want a new player, you’re done.’
“It’s not exactly nice but to misrepresent my status after five years of basically giving everything I could to the team, I just felt I deserved a little bit better than that. But people do things in their own way.”
The Bottcher foursome reached three Brier finals before finally breaking through last season. The team will defend its title this March in Lethbridge, Alta.
Moulding said the team provided some additional “fairly petty” reasons to him for making the switch.
One was that he was “cranky” at times in the bubble. Another was that they didn’t like that he called for a hog-line official in a game against the Netherlands at the world championship, Moulding said.
“They brought Marc Kennedy in to play fifth but they didn’t tell me about it,” he said. “I found out much the same way I found out about getting cut — by surprise. So that was a problem.
The four players spent four full seasons together and appeared to be a strong unit with solid on-ice chemistry.
“I’d say what you saw out there was real,” Moulding said. “We really were that close. I would say that since Don came on, we really got worse that way. But it was just enabling Brendan. I think that’s the major thing.”
Bottcher was the only team member scheduled to appear on Sunday’s conference call.
Interview requests for Bartlett, Thiessen and Martin were made through the federation on Saturday but it wasn’t immediately clear if they would be made available.
After getting a chance to absorb the news overnight and into Saturday, Moulding said he’s happy with how he has handled everything and wouldn’t change a thing.
While sad he won’t get to defend his Brier title, Moulding said he’s excited about the future and is hopeful that he’ll compete at a high level sometime soon.
“For the first three years together, it was wonderful,” Moulding said. “It ran its course. But I would reflect back on it as a positive time in my life.”
Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu suffers concussion on opening drive vs. Bills – Sportsnet.ca
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering a concussion while trying to make a tackle on the opening drive.
The Chiefs had held the Bills to fourth-and-2 at midfield when Allen took off on a designed run. Mathieu went low trying to tackle the 240-pound quarterback and his helmet collided with the knee of teammate Jarran Reed.
Mathieu was checked briefly in the blue sideline tent before he was taken to the locker room.
Allen converted that fourth-down run, then the Bills converted again on fourth-and-goal at the Kansas City 1 to take a 7-0 lead in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game won by the Chiefs.
Beijing introduces more COVID measures as cases mount before Olympics
Beijing‘s city government on Sunday introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.
Nine locally transmitted cases were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, of which six were in the city’s Fengtai district.
Fengtai will organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.
Authorities have asked residents of “risky areas,” including a neighbourhood of Fengtai, to not leave the city, a local government spokesman said at a Sunday news conference, adding that Fengtai residents have been asked to avoid mass gatherings.
Beijing city has also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with COVID-19-like symptoms within 14 days of receiving any deliveries from overseas, local authorities said in a statement dated Saturday.
Authorities have suggested Beijing’s first case of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could have arrived via a package from Canada.
In Fengtai, some kindergartens have told parents that children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be able to attend, two parents told Reuters.
Reuters could not determine whether the requirement is a government regulation or the kindergartens’ own rules.
A mother surnamed Wang, whose child attends at a private kindergarten in Fengtai, said a teacher told her on Friday that unvaccinated children will not be allowed to return from Monday citing new government regulations, without providing Wang any official documents.
“This is not on a voluntary basis. This is coercion,” Wang told Reuters. She said she has filed a complaint with authorities in the hope of having the requirement removed.
Reuters could not reach local authorities for comment on a non-business day.
Mainland China reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22, down from 63 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
Of the new cases, 19 were locally transmitted, versus 23 a day earlier, it said.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43.
There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
As of Jan. 22, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Roxanne Liu, Jing Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing)
ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen release Jacob Panetta after Jordan Subban calls out racist gesture – The Athletic
The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen released defenseman Jacob Panetta on Sunday after South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban said he was subjected to a racist gesture during Saturday’s game. The league suspended Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Later Sunday, Panetta released a response on Twitter, tagging Subban and captioning the video, “racism has no place in this world and no place in the game we love.” He said the gesture he made toward Subban was a “tough-guy, bodybuilder-like” one during a confrontation on the ice. He also said he’s made the same gesture to “non-racialized players a number of times” in his career.
Subban said Panetta made monkey gestures in his direction. His brother, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, later tweeted a video of the incident, which occurred 23 seconds into overtime.
“More like (Panetta) was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Jordan Subban tweeted after the game.
In his video, Panetta said “no racist slurs, noises, or anything of the like, were said by me during the incident.” While he said there were no racial intentions behind the gesture, Panetta apologized for the “pain and suffering and anger my actions have caused him, his family, and everyone that was hurt by this.”
“I acknowledge the impact of my gesture and will commit to better understand the impact going forward,” Panetta said. “Those who know me understand (it) was not intended to be racial, it is not who I am, it is not how I have been raised.
“But at the same time, I need to and I will learn from this. Racism and other forms of discrimination have no place in society, including hockey. I believed that before, and I still believe that now.”
Panetta’s release is “effective immediately” and the investigation is still ongoing at the league level, Jacksonville said in a statement.
South Carolina president Rob Concannon said the club is “disgusted and appalled” by Saturday’s incident.
“Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as the other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination. This behavior has to stop and is unacceptable.”
The NHL also issued a statement Sunday, saying it “will continue to make its resources available to the hockey ecosystem to educate and inform, with the goal of making the game welcoming and safe for all players and fans.”
“Incidents of racism, whether they occur in hockey or anywhere else, are abhorrent,” the league said.
Later Sunday, the Devils released a statement backing the Subbans. “We stand in support of Jordan, P.K., the Subban family and anyone who has experienced discrimination within our sport,” team said. “This week’s racist acts within the hockey community are unacceptable and have no place in the game or anywhere.”
(Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)
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