Darren Molding had seen signs of a fracture within the Bottcher squad long before things got out of hand for the reigning men’s national champions this week.
A group text about a sponsorship request led to an in-person team meeting at Chief Karrick Martin’s Edmonton home on Friday night. Molding was joined at the session by Martin, captain Brendan Bottcher and second Brad Thiessen.
âWhen I showed up I walked through the door and they just told me I was cut off,â Molding said.
The Bottcher team released a statement later Friday evening confirming Molding’s departure. The statement added that it would “be taking time out of the game for personal reasons,” which Molding described on Twitter as a “full statement from BS.”
This is a full statement from bsâ¦ I am very disappointed that the team has not released a specific statement on my status. I don’t take time out of the gameâ¦ I am ready, willing and able to play. I intended to defend my title as Team Canada in Lethbridge. https://t.co/zYEuOMDueL
For a team that is ranked sixth in the world and will soon wear the Maple Leaf at the Tim Hortons Brier, the mid-season decision – even after a disappointing performance at the Olympic Trials in Canada – came as a major surprise.
The team said they plan to name a new teammate at a later date. Bottcher said he would have no further comment until media availability on Monday, which was then rescheduled to Sunday afternoon via a conference call from Curling Canada.
Molding, joined by The Canadian Press from their home in Lacombe, Alta., Said the ripples within the squad started to reach a new level when coach Don Bartlett joined them at the Brier for the first time in 2020.
âI kind of supported them,â Molding said. âFrom there, basically, he wasn’t willing to do things right and do what needed to be done to fix the problem and I wouldn’t back down. So he just decided he had had enough of me. . “
Molding said he wanted a better business structure within the team and essentially “took the ball in the head” for trying to get some transparency.
“It went like a lead balloon,” he said. “Brendan doesn’t like it. If he can’t control everything all the time, then he’s going to have to find someone who lets him. It’ll be interesting to see who can handle this.”
Details on team earnings and payout percentages were not available.
“If I’m part of the team, I want it to be an equal part”
“If I’m in the team I want it to be an equal part,” Molding said. âIt means not only financially, but also having a say in how we do things and being able to see how we do things and having transparency. So it’s definitely a business issue.
âI was never told it was a performance issue. At practice, Brendan obviously struggled there. Everyone saw the games on TV. They know what happened. “
Bottcher, who won a world junior title in 2012, was 3-5 to settle for a tie for fifth in the round robin at the SaskTel Center, a long way from the playoff cup.
Molding said he called the team reunion after Bottcher “freaked out a bit on me” in a response to his group text. He described the captain as someone who was generally “very defensive”, who could be “upset and emotional”.
âHe would pick on me for no reason and wouldn’t make a lot of sense,â Molding said. âThe other two guys just sit there. They don’t say anything. They’ve been curling with him for a long time and I think they know if they say something they’re afraid of getting cut which is sad because that they are both very good players.
Molding initially hoped to find out why the bucket was upset. Instead, the meeting focused on why he was away.
“I asked why and Brendan just said I said hurtful things about Don and him, which I don’t agree. [with], but I just told the truth about a few things that I saw happen in the team that I didn’t like, âhe said.
“I had to stick to my morals and my values ââand I didn’t want to let him get away with it. Sometimes telling the truth gets you in trouble, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. things to do.”
Molding then updated his Twitter profile bio to read: “Proud Dad, Free Agent Curler.”
An accompanying photo of Team Bottcher members has been changed to a sunset over a lake.
“I am healthy, happy and will play at any time”
âI can assure you that I am healthy, happy and will be playing anytime,â Molding said. âI have no personal reason that prevents me from playing curling. [statement] was unfair because it can affect my curling career. They have the right to cut me off. It sucks, the timing sucks. They could have just said, ‘We want a new player, you’re done’.
“It’s not really good, but distorting my status after five years of giving the team all I can, I just felt I deserved a little better than that. But people do things their own way. manner.”
The Bottcher quartet reached three Brier finals before finally breaking through last season. The team will defend their title in March in Lethbridge, Alta.
Molding said the team provided him with additional “pretty petty” reasons for making the switch.
One was that he was sometimes “eccentric” in the bubble. Another was that they didn’t like him calling a line-of-sight official in a world championship game against Netherlands, Molding said.
“They brought in Marc Kennedy to play fifth but they didn’t tell me about it,” he said. âI found out pretty much the same way I found out about FGC – by surprise. So it was a problem.
The four players have spent four full seasons together and appeared to be a solid unit with solid chemistry on the ice.
âI would say what you saw there was real,â Molding said. “We were really so close. I’d say since Don’s arrival we’ve really gotten worse that way. But that only helped Brendan. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Bottcher was the only member of the team to appear on Sunday’s conference call.
Interview requests for Bartlett, Thiessen and Martin were made through the federation on Saturday, but it was not immediately clear whether they would be made available.
After getting a chance to absorb the news overnight and into Saturday, Molding said he was happy with the way he handled everything and wouldn’t change a thing.
Although he is sad that he cannot defend his title at the Brier, Molding said he is excited about the future and hopes he will compete at a high level very soon.
âFor the first three years together it was wonderful,â Molding said. “It has run its course. But I would think of it as a positive moment in my life.”