GANGNEUNG — In 2014, Kevin Koe made one of the toughest decisions of his life, giving up his role as skip of Team Canada to form a new squad that he believed would have a good chance of reaching the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Pyeongchang 2018 logo.
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On Wednesday, when that team played its first game on the ice at the Gangneung Curling Centre, pulling out a workmanlike 5-3 win over Italy, it cemented Koe’s belief that he made the right call.
“I had no regrets at the time,” Koe said. “I didn’t have any regrets even when we didn’t have a great first year and obviously I definitely don’t have any now.”
The Koe foursome, with Marc Kennedy at third, Brent Laing at second and Ben Hebert at lead, was formed in April of 2014. There was significant controversy at the time because word of the new team leaked out before Koe and his Brier-winning team of Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen even competed at the world championship.
Under the circumstances, the old team didn’t fare well at the worlds and Koe was heavily criticized for walking away from a team that had already earned a return visit to the 2015 Brier as Team Canada.
In 2014, Kevin Koe made one of the toughest decisions of his life, giving up his role as skip of Team Canada to form a new squad that he believed would have a good chance of reaching the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Simmons moved up to skip, John Morris was added to the lineup and Team Canada won that 2015 Brier, while the Koe team didn’t even make the playoffs.
Simmons and Co., went on to win a bronze medal at the world championship.
“I’m still great friends with those guys and we had a great team,’ Koe said. “I didn’t even really question the decision when they went and won the Brier the following year. We had played together a while and I felt it was time for a change for me. Lucky enough we put this team together and this was the far out goal, to get to the Olympics and hopefully do well here.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing from the beginning.
When the new team was first formed, Koe, Kennedy, Laing and Hebert didn’t immediately gel.
Though they were all world champions and two of them — Kennedy and Hebert —were already Olympic gold medallists, the players all came with different styles and philosophies.
“The biggest challenge was we came from three really successful teams and I felt like Team (Glenn) Howard did things the right way and Ben and Marc felt like Team (Kevin) Martin did things the right way and Kevin thought that his team did things the right way,” Laing said. “We were all right but it wasn’t necessarily the right thing for us, we had to realize that this is the new Team Koe, so how do we do things? …read more