Road To The Olympic Games

Curling carousel continues as Koe, Carruthers make changes

The flurry of changes to Canadian curling rinks continued on Tuesday, with Calgary's Kevin Koe and Winnipeg's Reid Carruthers both announcing changes to their teams for next season.

Mike McEwen to join Carruthers' rink as 4th

Kevin Koe, left, and Reid Carruthers both announced changes to their respective rinks for next season (Associated Press/Canadian Press)

The flurry of changes to Canadian curling rinks continued on Tuesday, with Calgary's Kevin Koe and Winnipeg's Reid Carruthers both announcing major changes to their teams for next season.

Mike McEwen, whose own Winnipeg-based rink is disbanding at the end of the season, is joining Carruthers as the new fourth. Carruthers will continue to call games.

Braeden Moskowy previously said that he's leaving Carruthers' team after four years playing vice, adding that he competed this season on a broken ankle.

Koe's team is also undergoing a makeover after a fourth-place performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. B.J. Neufeld and Colton Flasch will replace the departing Marc Kennedy and Brent Laing at third and second, respectively, with Ben Hebert remaining as lead.

"I wouldn't be committing to a team like this if I didn't think we could win," Hebert told CBC Sports' Devin Heroux. "This will give us a kick in the ass to keep working hard. It's great for us."

Neufeld joins Koe's team after competing with McEwen's soon-to-be disbanded Winnipeg rink for 11 years. Flasch skipped a team to the Saskatchewan men's final this year after appearing in three national championships as Steve Laycock's second.

"I finally get to be the second best sweeper on the team," Hebert said, describing his new teammates  as "two big horses up front."

"In the curling world, everyone who knows who Colton is ... [and] B.J. has been one of the best thirds in the world for a long time."

'Bittersweet' changes

Laing is joining John Epping's new rink as second, while Kennedy is taking a hiatus from competitive curling. They will finish out the 2017-18 season with Koe at the final two Grand Slam events in April.

"We talked about staying together and we looked at different options and it became pretty clear that just for whatever reason — circumstance, choices, what everybody was looking for — it's just the three of us weren't going to end up together," Laing told The Canadian Press on Monday.

Epping's Toronto-based rink is also adding Craig Savill at lead.

Hebert acknowledged that it will be "bittersweet" competing without Kennedy for the first time in 12 years, but is excited for the new-look rink.

"This year is a tester year. It's the honeymoon stage. We all want to impress each other."

Curling Canada allows one member of each team to live outside the province or territory in national championship playdowns.

Flasch, from Biggar, Sask., is moving to Calgary, according to the statement released Tuesday by Koe. Koe's team will continue to curl out of the Glencoe Club.

​​Movement between curling teams is particularly frenetic after a Winter Olympics as teams re-form with a view to qualifying for the next games.

With files from The Canadian Press

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