An online petition has been started in Prince Edward Island to remove the relegation round from Canadian curling championships.
Connor MacPhee dreams of one day representing Prince Edward Island at the Tim Hortons Brier.
He now knows it may be little harder with a change to the format being instituted next season by the Canadian Curling Association.
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Nunavut will play in a tournament with the winner qualifying for the 2015 Brier. The other three teams will not compete at nationals.
“I was disheartened to be honest,” MacPhee said of his initial response to the change. “It’s tough to grow/sustain curling levels, especially at a competitive level, if you’re counting people out.”
MacPhee started an online petition on Monday to show numerical evidence of the amount of people against the change. The petition will be presented to the association later this year and he hopes the association takes another look at the change.
“It’s lacking unity as a Canadian championship if all your provinces are not being represented,” MacPhee said.
Al Cameron, the association’s director of communication and media relations, said members from across the country passed the motion leading to the change. It was done to create equitable opportunity to access national championships.
“Not every curler in Canada was eligible to compete,” Cameron told The Guardian.
“We had to rectify that situation.”
Under the former system, Nunavut couldn’t enter the playdowns for the Brier and Scotties, Northern Ontario could not enter the Scotties while the Yukon and Northwest Territories had to come as a combined representative.
Cameron said the new system is not a relegation round, where teams are not able to compete in the tournament the following season.
“It’s a performance-based championship and the teams that perform will access the championship,” Cameron said. “Nobody is being left out of the mix.”
The teams competing in the play-in tournament are based on the provinces’ records at the event during the preceding three years. The system is already in place for the mixed and senior nationals.
“It’s not just P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, so it has a Canadian impact,” said MacPhee, 22, who has curled for 12 years and competed at national competitions at the junior and university level.
Eddie MacKenzie skipped P.E.I.’s men’s team at this month’s Brier in Kamloops, B.C.
“I think it would be nicer to have all the provinces there and the round-robin changed to accommodate it,” he said.
MacKenzie said P.E.I. voted against the motion to change the format. While it will not impact his decision to try to qualify for the nationals, it may for some.
Equitable opportunity to access Canadian championships
What it means – There will be four-team play-in tournaments before next year’s Brier and Scotties. The winner receives the last of 12 spots in the Canadian curling championships.
Why – The previous system did not provide equal access to all provinces/territories that were members of the Canadian Curling Association.
2015 play-in teams for the Brier – Nunavut, Yukon, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
2015 play-in teams for the Scotties – Northern Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.
Online – There is a Twitter account (NoToRelegation) and an online petition against the change