Word this afternoon from Winnipeg that there are major changes to Team Jeff Stoughton for next year's 2006-07 campaign.
First, longtime Stoughton second Garry VanDenBerghe announced his retirement, with youthful skip Ryan Fry taking his place.
Now comes word that Jon Mead, Stoughton's hot-shooting third since 1998-99 (resulting in a Brier win and silver medal at the Ford Worlds in Saint John that year) has stepped away from the team. Fry now moves up to third stone, former Kerry Burtnyk second Rob Fowler comes in and Steve Gould remains at lead.
Mead will not reappear with another squad: he reportedly wants to take some time away from the sport.
After Manitoba's disappointing Regina Brier campaign, word spread of a knee injury Mead had been battling since the provincial championships.
Prior to the Brier, Team Stoughton had been on a hellish roll since losing the finale of the Olympic Trials to the Brad Gushue/Russ Howard combination. They won their hometown Grand Slam, the BDO Classic Canadian Open, and sailed through their Safeway Select provincial championship.
VanDenBerghe is supposed to compete with Stoughton at the final two stops on the World Curling Tour circuit: this weekend's Bear Mountain Arena Classic in Victoria and the season finale, the Calgary Herald Players' Championship in Calgary. It is anticipated that Mead will also compete with Team Stoughton in the squad's swan song, but that news is unconfirmed.