WAINWRIGHT – Kevin Martin sat in the empty seat on the media bench directly above the sheet where his son Karrick was throwing lead rocks for Brendan Bottcher and admitted the apprehension.
It wasn’t so much with watching his son.
“Heck, we played against them last year in Lacombe,” he said of his last Boston Pizza Cup before retirement.
“They had a shot to win. They played very well that game. That’s when you know you have to retire or they’re going to beat you the next time.”
It was being here at the event he won 12 times and not being on the ice himself that caused the apprehension.
“I was worried. With all those provincials I’d played in over the years, and I’m not even sure how many that was, I was concerned. But it hasn’t bothered me a bit.
“It’s been no problem. It’s actually been a lot of fun. I was coming here to talk to you and it took me four ends to get to you because I know everybody here,” said Martin, born in Killam who is from the neighborhood. His wife Shauna is from Wainwright.
It’s been like that since the start of the season.
“So far, I haven’t missed the on ice part at all and I guess that kind of surprises me. But probably the reason for that is working with Sportsnet for all the Grand Slam events, I’ve been able to see the guys.”
Sunday morning Martin will slide over about 15 feet from where he spent five ends sitting with your correspondent and be the color commentator for the Sportsnet West coverage of both the 9 a.m. semi-final and the 1:30 p.m. final – the get-to-the Brier game.
Both son Karrick and 2010 Olympics gold medal-winning teammates of eight years, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert, involved in those games. So that will be interesting. But it’s not like it’s his first time in the booth with either his son or his former teammates involved.
“I’ve done a couple of the games with Karrick on the ice. They were in the semi-finals of two Grand Slams. It was good but Mike Harris and Rob Faulds were on me the whole time, bugging the heck out of me.
“I’ve been watching Karrick and his team on a different sheet of ice the past two years. But this year I know they have a chance. So that’s really exciting for me from a dad’s point of view.”
As for Kennedy and Hebert, Martin is watching Kennedy, especially with interest as he makes the adjustment from being a second to a third.
“It’s a very different role for Marc to throw third rocks and sweep. It has taken the whole team a while to get used to this unique team dynamic. Ben and Marc are still the best sweepers in the game.”
Martin is becoming a pro in his new career as a TV commentator.
“We’re 31 games in now. So I’m pretty comfortable with it now. It’s going really well. It’s really fun. I’m really enjoying it.”
Martin actually began his TV career with NBC working through the night in a studio in New York doing voice-over commentary on games from the Sochi Olympics.
“That definitely helped. That was about 30 games.”
Hired by Sportsnet to do five Slam events and this championship as well as to be an ambassador, he’s found both jobs to be expanding. Next year the Slam series which Sportsnet saved from extinction two years ago by becoming owner of the property, announced they are expanding the series to seven with $1.5 million in prize money and to eight events the following year with $2.5 million up for grabs.
“The TV ratings are just so strong. It’s so good for the sport,” said Martin, who won his 18th Slam in his final event last spring to go with his Olympic gold and silver medals and four Brier titles.
Nobody had more to do with the birth of the series of six figure tour events in the first place than Martin. And now he finds his role as ambassador is growing into something much more substantial.
“I’ve become very involved. My job has kind of been morphing. Originally it was more of an ambassador and consulting type of role. But as the season has gone on and things are expanding and getting busier and busier I’m kind of getting more involved just because there’s work to be done.
“I’ve become very, very involved in the venue part of it, the in-venue experience for the fans. And they have me working on some other aspects of it as well. There’s a lot involved that is really what I want to do.”
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