With hundreds of Vancouver 2010 photos pouring in from ace TCN photographer Anil Mungal, this archived pic from 2008 seems an odd one to showcase today.
The truth is, Sweden's Niklas Edin (middle) played with Team David Murdoch not once, but twice, in the Continental Cup championships of 2007 and 2008. That's Murdoch third Ewan MacDonald at left, and lead Euan Byers at right. He replaced regular Murdoch second Peter Smith on both of those Canadian event junkets. Played very well, too.
As the world now knows, its Team Sweden which dispatched Great Britain's defending world champions yesterday in the Olympic tiebreaker, and meets Canada's Team Kevin Martin in a semifinal later today, at 2pm Pacific time.
This was an epic loss for Murdoch's men. For much of the fall the team struggled on the ice, particularly from injuries to Smith and Murdoch, and they failed to make the medal round at the European championships, after back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008.
It was old friend Edin, who two years ago didn't have a sniff of making it to the Olympics – and who still likes to say that his team is simply building for Sochi 2014 – who took Murdoch's 20009 Euro title.
Then, the "Scottish Brits" started to turn it around. A qualifying paycheque at a Capital One Grand Slam event was followed up by that popular win at the Casino Rama Skins Game. This made for a great January.
Then it was off to Calgary for pre-Olympic training, on specialty ice made by Olympic ice technician Hans Wuthrich (which resulted in a formal letter being sent to Wuthrich by the Canadian Curling Association) and with special stones actually shipped in from Scotland.
But it was not meant to be. Edin's young troops manhandled Murdoch in the very first match 10 days ago, and then withstood a strong Scottish comeback yesterday afternoon to pip the lads in the extra end.
And only Murdoch and Byers, the holdovers from the 2006 team at Turin, will be able to say – in time – which Olympic Games feels worse.
Is it winning a bunch in row only to lose your last four games (and a medal) a la Turin, or scrapping back and forth through the round-robin only to lose a chance at the medal round altogether, as happened in Vancouver?
One thing is certain: the CAN-GBR round-robin tilt was a barnburner, and fans may feel deprived of a semifinal barnburner as the Murdoch-Martin history is well known. In contrast, the Canadians have simply mopped the floor with the Swedes in their last two matchups, by scores of 7-3 and 9-1.
No wonder the Canadians are confident.
[CCA photo by Michael Burns]