MOOSE JAW, Sask. - Richard Hart returned to the curling scene on two fronts this season.
He rejoined Team Glenn Howard after taking three years off and is also handling coaching duties for two-time defending champion Rachel Homan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The 2007 world men's curling champion and 1998 Olympic silver medallist brings an experienced eye and veteran presence to the Ottawa team.
"I've been able to add a couple little things here and there," Hart said. "But for the most part, it's awesome just seeing the way they do it as well. It's a real learning experience for me because all the top teams do things a little differently.
"So I've enjoyed that part of it."
The 46-year-old Toronto native, who has dabbled in coaching in the past, had an up-and-down season with Howard, Craig Savill and new addition Jon Mead.
"We had some great weekends but we also had a few off-weekends," Hart said.
In a stunner, Howard didn't qualify for the Ontario playdowns. Mark Kean won the provincial title and berth in the Tim Hortons Brier with a lineup that included Howard's son, Scott.
Hart was able to give his full attention to coaching Homan's team of Emma Miskew, Lisa Weagle and Joanne Courtney at the women's national championship at Mosaic Place.
Homan beat Manitoba's Jennifer Jones for her first Scotties title in 2013 and defeated Alberta's Val Sweeting in last year's title game.
Both Jones — the reigning Olympic champion — and Sweeting are back this year. Joining them in the 12-team field are Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton and Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault.
Hart said the Homan team is quite comfortable as the defending champions.
"They're used to it, they know how to deal with it," Hart said. "I think in a lot of ways they like that. That's comfortable to them as opposed to first-time Team Canada teams."
Earle Morris used to handle coaching duties for the Homan rink but he left the team last year to coach his son and Team John Morris.
Hart said he was honoured to be considered for the position of helping the defending champions go for a third straight title.
"It's fun being on a team, right?" Hart said. "It's fun to get to know the girls and have them sort of invite you in and get to know the team a little bit. That's what I enjoy the most."
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