Who is the team at this year's Brier that is going to breakthrough? One or two teams will make a run, at Stoughton, Howard or Martin, which team will it be?
The 2013 Brier field is deep, really deep.
The fans in Edmonton should be in for a good treat. Talking about fans, the last time the Brier was in Edmonton, a Brier attendance record was held--281,985.
Remember what I said about how television is now a better option than watching live? I would be surprised if they get within three-quarters of that goal (211,000) as attendance is expected to be just over 200,000. Why head to the arena when you can watch on TV?
On to the projections.
A couple weeks I had some fun with the Scotties preview and interjected a little bit of a Tragically Hip homage. So in the spirit of Edmonton I will use their most famous musical import, which is...k.d. Lang? Moe Berg? Has any band came out of Edmonton?
Screw it, here is how I rank the teams.
Well, everyone knows there is the Big 3—Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. I could take the conventional choice and pick one of them.
These teams are clearly the cream of the crop and I would be surprised if any of the Big 3 finishes out of the playoffs. Instead I will rank the underdogs. I think that this Brier will have some upsets and one of the Big 3 will miss the playoffs.
A great thing about this Brier is that due to the Olympics next year and the age of Stoughton, Martin and Howard—this might be the swan-song for the Big 3. Might as well enjoy them while we have them because I am betting we won't see any of the Big 3 by 2015 for sure.
Northern Ontario – These guys are still relatively young, but they have a bunch of experience, as Brad Jacobs' crew has been to the Brier five times. If a couple breaks go their way, there is no reason why this team shouldn't be in the playoffs and who knows what can happen in a winner takes all situation.
I will stick my neck out and say that they will make their way to the finals against one of the big three.
Saskatchewan – Bad boys, bad boys whatcha' going to do? Brock Virtue and his team is as talented as any other team, it's just a case of keeping their emotions in check and gaining some more experience. Definitely a team to watch.
Newfoundland and Labrador – Brad Gushue is so close. Only 32, he has 10 Brier appearances and a Olympic gold medal. How many Brier appearances will this guy finish with when he is finally done? Twenty? Twenty-five? Thirty?
Quebec – Remember when Jean-Michel Menard won the Brier in 2006? Seems like a generation ago. Even though he has a title, it seems like a fluke for his team to do it again.
New Brunswick—Jimmy the Kid is one of my favourite curlers. Here's my prediction, they start off at 4-1, they're the darlings of the Brier, then they lose three or four feature games on TSN and all of a sudden they finish at 5-6.
Northwest Territories – Hard to believe that this team made the playoffs last year. Probably the highlight for NWT curling last year. Heck, probably the highlight for any sport in NWT ever.
British Columbia – Andrew Bilesky and his rink will give one of the Big 3 a good game at the Brier, but that will probably be their only highlight on what is their first trip to the show.
Just glad that B.C. finally sent a young team.
Nova Scotia –Paul Flemming. This guy is still curling? Could be a long week for Nova Scotia...but not as long a week as...
PEI – If Eddie Mackenzie makes the playoffs, I will move to PEI, establish permanent residency and enter a team in the PEI men's championships next winter.