When great isn’t good enough

Glenn Howard and Team Ontario curled well this week and so have their opponents


Published on March 10, 2017

Team Ontario skip Glenn Howard keeps keeps a close eye on a shot during a game against Team Newfoundland and Labrador Thursday at Mile One Centre. This is Howard’s record 17th appear at the national men’s curling championships and while his team hasn’t been able to replicate the success of past Briers, they still feel good about their performance.

©Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press

Late in Thursday afternoon’s game again Newfoundland, one in which he trailed Brad Gushue 6-4, Glenn Howard was staring at two Newfoundland rocks when he delivered another routine draw — which he’s done a million times — to the four-foot to count one and hang in there against the hometown favourites.

“We’ve really played well this week. The record doesn’t support that, but every game that we’ve lost, the tight ones, the other team is like 95 per cent.” Glenn Howard

After the shot, Russ Howard, Glenn’s older brother who does colour on the TSN broadcasts, remarked that despite his record in this 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, Glenn Howard might be curling the best he has been this season.

Uh, did we mention Glenn was 3-8 following an 8-3 loss to New Brunswick in Thursday night’s draw.

“I’m glad he said that,” he said of his big brother, a curling and Canadian Sports Hall of Famer, “because we’ve really played well this week.

“The record doesn’t support that, but every game that we’ve lost, the tight ones, the other team is like 95 per cent.”

That was evident Tuesday morning, in a 7-6 extra-end loss to Quebec. In that game, Howard curled a nifty 92 per cent. Problem was Jean-Michel Menard was a lights-out 97 per cent.

“You’re like, ‘Holy cow!’” he said. “What do you do about that.”

Entering Thursday’s night draw, Howard was fourth amongst skips, curling at 84 per cent. His long-time third, Richard Hart, was third amongst vice-skips at 86 per cent.

Howard is 54, and Hart is 48.

Their younger front end is comprised of lead Scott Howard, Glenn’s son, and second David Mathers.

“I’m still just as spry and ready to go as if I was 24,” Glenn cautioned.

Howard is a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he finally does decide to put away the broom.

This is his record 17th appearance at the Brier, and he’s won four of them – in 1987 and 1993 as third for Russ, and two as skip and in 2007 and 2012.

He also won world titles in each of those years.

In addition to the victories, Howard has finished second seven times and third on three occasions.

Not saying the curlers weren’t great in Howard’s heyday, but this particular Brier field has 14 previous Brier winners, and nine Olympic gold medalists.

“The competition these days is amazing,” he said.

“But we’re right there. Take the Newfoundland game. With the exception of one end that got away from us (three in three), we were right there with them.

“And that’s what you do. You go out and do your best every night, which is what we’ve been doing.

“I’m really proud of the guys. Really proud. We’ve played really well in this Brier, and we don’t deserve the record, but that’s the way it is.”

Howard will finish with a sub-.500 record in St. John’s, just as he did at the 2016 Brier in Ottawa (4-7).

But don’t look for him to slide away from the game just yet.

“Are you kidding me?” he said. “Not at all. I’m loving every minute of this. I just love being out there on the ice.

“I still have the fire in the belly, still have the passion. I love it. Love it.”

rshort@thetelegram.com