It didn’t take long for Darren Moulding’s phone to start blowing up after news of his departure from Team Brendan Bottcher was made official earlier this month.
Fresh from an in-person meeting where he’d been cut, Moulding hopped in his truck with his six-year-old son. His former team issued a statement and the calls and messages started pouring in.
Young Brady was curious. He asked his father if he’d been let go and whether he’d find a new team. Still digesting the developments, Moulding – a free agent for mere minutes – saw it as a teachable moment.
“Any time something like this happens, you just keep trying,” Moulding said. “I told him I would. So a big motivation is to show him that when something crappy happens to you, you just move forward and you just keep playing.”
After taking a few weeks to consider his options, Moulding has decided to join Team James Grattan. The team made it official Wednesday evening via social media channels.
Moulding plans to throw third stones for the rink at the New Brunswick playdowns in February. The event winner will represent the province at the national championship.
“This was the best for me as far as having a team that’s going to be competitive,” Moulding told The Canadian Press from Lacombe, Alta. “I really believe in the talent on this team. They’re really tough to play against.”
Grattan, 47, has played in the Tim Hortons Brier on 14 occasions. He won bronze in his Brier debut as a skip in 1997 and finished third again in 2002 as vice for Russ Howard.
Moulding said Grattan reached out to him a few days after he was cut by Bottcher. The 39-year-old Calgary native took some time to think about it before deciding to give it a go.
“We do have a lot in common and I think it’s going to be a good fit,” he said.
Playing a Brier in his home province – with his son in attendance – is a big carrot for Moulding, whose former teammates will wear the Maple Leaf at the March 4-13 event in Lethbridge, Alta.
Moulding plans to start training with his new team next month and said he hasn’t committed to anything beyond the playdowns.
“For me the focus is to get another spot to Lethbridge,” Moulding said. “That’s the motivation for me personally is to win this spot a second time. Getting to the Brier is really hard.
“I expect it to be a grind and a challenge and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Moulding was let go by the reigning Brier champions on Dec. 3, about a week after the team missed the playoffs at Canada’s Olympic curling trials.
The wording of a team statement announcing the move was hotly disputed by Moulding, kicking off an extended news cycle as perceived causes of the split were aired separately by skip Brendan Bottcher and Moulding.
The Bottcher team changed the wording of its statement two days after the announcement. References to Moulding taking time away from the sport and departing for personal reasons were removed.
Moulding’s son was playing with lead Karrick Martin’s son in a different room when the curlers held their sitdown meeting. Given the initial wording of the statement, Moulding had to deal with several concerned calls and his son picked up on it.
“I’m trying to lead by example for him because he saw that happen,” Moulding said. “I’m trying to be a good dad.”
Team Bottcher, which also includes second Brad Thiessen, has yet to name a replacement at third.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the front end of Grattan’s lineup will look in the New Year. Paul Dobson has played third this season with Andy McCann at second and Jamie Brannen at lead.
Moulding, meanwhile, said he’s excited about returning to the curling grind, training in New Brunswick and joining a veteran team with experience.
“I’m still in my prime as far as my ability goes,” he said. “I just don’t want to waste any time. I just want to play as much as I can.
“This gives me another opportunity to chase another spot at the Brier and compete. That’s what I love to do.”