The Tim Hortons Brier qualifying round between the Yukon, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to get into the 12-team began on Friday, but two of those teams won't play beyond Saturday.
Furthermore, those teams will have to return to the qualifier again in 2016 along with the team that finishes last in the main draw this year.
Nova Scotia's Glen MacLeod was the first eliminated Friday with an 11-3 loss to P.E.I.'s Adam Casey. The qualification finale between P.E.I. and Yukon's Bob Smallwood will be played during the first draw of the main round robin Saturday.
Friday evening's game between P.E.I and Nova Scotia was the only game on the four sheets. It was played in front of a smattering of fans in an arena that seats almost 20,000.
"I'm not a big fan of the relegation," said Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue. "I think it's a little embarrassing for the teams. The way they're playing out here with nobody watching and no ceremonies or anything, it's not right.
"It's disappointing not to have one of Nova Scotia or P.E.I, who have been in the Brier since I think the '30s. It's a little bit odd."
The Canadian Curling Association, which re-branded itself as Curling Canada on Friday, altered the format of both men's and women's national championships this year to mirror each other as well as be a true national championship with all provinces and territories having the chance to enter a team.
How to manage 14 teams and keep the event a reasonable length, however, is a logistical puzzle.
Curling Canada announced more than two years ago that 2015 would be the year the Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts would radically change.
MacLeod says his team was prepared for this play-in scenario, but his team was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion.
With the three teams tied 1-1, Nova Scotia had scored the worst in a pre-game, draw-the-button contest designed to break ties. In the end, the foursome was eliminated by two centimetres.
"Two centimetres was all it was," MacLeod said. "As far as the game goes, P.E.I. was the better team today.
"The format, I'm not too fussy about. The draw to the button is a little disappointing. It's an easy shot. We had that in our hands."
Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard, who won a Canadian title in 2006, is concerned that curlers from provinces or territories perennially in the qualifier won't feel motivated to enter their respective playdowns.
He says one option for the Brier is to take on the format of the Canadian junior championships, where a 14-team field is divided into two pools for the round robin.
"At first I wasn't a big fan of the format they're going in the juniors, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense," Menard said.
"You're guaranteed eight, nine or 10 games per team. That would probably be a way of making sure every team that made it to the Brier will be able to stay the whole week."