Two Maritime provinces no longer have a reserved spot at the Tim Hortons Brier and will have to play their way into the Canadian men's curling championship next year.
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Yukon have all been moved into the relegation round under new rules from the Canadian Curling Association. The territories used to compete as one team.
Mark Dacey, the 2004 Brier champion skip, said the decision is bad news for amateur curling.
"For me it's the worst day ever in Nova Scotia curling History," he said Thursday at the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax.
The teams from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Yukon have all posted poor records over the last three years at the Brier.
The winning teams from those four regions will still travel to Calgary for next year's championship, but will have to play each other in a mini-tournament before the Brier. Only the winner will get a spot in the actual tournament.
"It's a tough day. You know, there's been a few emails going around with former teammates and other curlers and not too many have many positive things to say. We're all pretty embarrassed right now," said Dacey.
Nova Scotia has won 0 games at this year's Brier
This year's Brier is underway right now in Kamloops B.C.
The Nova Scotia team isn't doing well. The team is 0 in 8 with three games left.
The Nova Scotia Curling Association said part of the reason Nova Scotia and the three other teams have been relegated is to make room in the Brier for new teams from the northern territories, and Team Canada.
Tom Birchall, president of Nova Scotia Curling, said the province only has about 8,000 curlers. It may seem like a lot but Birchall said that's the size of some clubs in other parts of the country.
"We just don't have a lot of opportunity for our really top-flight curlers to get great ice, great competition on a regular basis over a long period of time," he said.
Rod MacDonald, who has represented Prince Edward Island seven times at the Brier, said he has seen a lot of changes over the years and he's not impressed with this one.
"I certainly don't like it. I think what they're doing is taking away the amateur part of curling in Canada. I feel this will become another slam event for the professionals," he said.
"I don't think it's going to help any of the curling in Canada. There are a lot of clubs that are right now closed. I don't really think the CCA sees that yet."
MacDonald said he doesn't think there is much that can be done at this point to reverse the decision.