Leaf of the Day - Jan 5, 2009 - Curtis Joseph

Editor's Note: In case anyone ever wonders why I hate Old Yeller 1967ers does a good job of reminding us just how classless Joseph's departure was from Toronto. I stayed up until all hours to watch the Ducks SWEEP! the Red Wings in 2003. It might be my most satisfying non-Leafs series.

Jan 5, 2008 - Curtis Joseph

Forgoing the normal 1978-79 Leaf today because I'd like to say congrats to Cujo on win #450.  I'm glad he got that one in before loss #352, which I have to admit I hope he doesn't get.  While it's true that you have to be a pretty d@mned good goaltender to be allowed to lose that many games (ask the Gumper and Gilles Meloche), it's still not something you want to be associated with if you can avoid it.

It was pretty interesting to hear Joseph's name being chanted in the ACC (almost typed "the Gardens" there - more coffee, please - or better, change the name of the new building) again.  Five years ago, it would have been chanted, all right, though probably with the word "sucks" attached to it.  For all that has been said and written about the departure of Mats Sundin, the way Joseph left was head and shoulders worse.  (Both, I think, pale in comparison to the departures of Vince Carter and Roberto Alomar, but that again is a story for another day.)

Curtis had come to the Leafs in 1998 after Felix Potvin lost his mojo (although a mojo-less Cat was still better than what we've seen recently) and the confidence of the team.  Combined with the arrival of Quinn, the Leafs vaulted from the lower echelons of the league to the upper ones, immediately went three rounds into the playoffs and a new era of good Leaf teams was upon us - the entire thing dependent on top-notch goaltending to cover for an attack-oriented style of play.

The Leafs never won it all (really?) with Joseph, but in every series they won, Joseph was key.  When they write the book about all the reasons the Sens never won a Cup with that team, there will be at least one chapter on Curtis Joseph.

By 2002, though, there were cracks somewhere.  Joseph's deal was up and when asked about it after the last playoff loss that year, he went out of his way not to say anything positive about the team he played with.  First day of free agency, he was a Red Wing and not long after that came the smarmy interview with the CBC that contained the gem about "we'll see who's playing in June."

This was a much bigger deal than Mats.  Joseph had just bailed on a team that still thought it had Stanley Cup aspirations, much of which were resting on his shoulders, and he piddled on the rug on his way out the door.  The Leafs had been very interested in resigning him, something for which there was no evidence with Mats. 

The Leafs did catch a break in that they were able to sign the best UFA goaltender left on the market and Belfour was able to step in right where Joseph left off, at least in terms of beating Ottawa.  Still, though, the next Detroit-Toronto game was supposed to be one to watch, and much venting was to be the heard. 

Never happened, though.

For whatever reason, Joseph didn't play.  The catcalls were never heard and here we are, celebrating his milestone win and bygones are bygones.  There were other factors, of course.  He didn't win in Detroit and was shunted aside in a rather abrupt fashion.  There were quotes about how he never should have left Toronto, which probably helped.  The biggest factor, I guess, is time.  Even Robbie Alomar got cheered when they put his number up.  Carter?  Well, we'll see.  Mats?  I would think so



1984-85      King City Dukes      OHA-B      18                     0      4.82                              
1984-85     Newmarket Flyers     OPJHL     2     1     1     0     0     8.00                        
1985-86     Richmond Hill Dynes     OPJHL     33     12     18     0     1     5.45                        
1986-87     Richmond Hill Dynes     OPJHL     30     14     7     6     1     4.35                        
1987-88     Notre Dame Hounds     SJHL     36     25     4     7     1     2.59                        
1987-88     Notre Dame Hounds     Cen-Cup     5     4     1     0     0     3.17                        
1988-89     University of Wisconsin     WCHA     38     21     11     5     1     2.49                        
1989-90     St. Louis Blues     NHL     15     9     5     1     0     3.38     6     4     1         0     3.30
1989-90     Peoria Rivermen     IHL     23     10     8     2     0     3.87                        
1990-91     St. Louis Blues     NHL     30     16     10     2     0     3.12                        
1991-92     St. Louis Blues     NHL     60     27     20     10     2     3.01     6     2     4         0     3.64
1992-93     St. Louis Blues     NHL     68     29     28     9     1     3.02     11     7     4         2     2.27
1993-94     St. Louis Blues     NHL     71     36     23     11     1     3.10     4     0     4         0     3.66
1994-95     St. Louis Blues     NHL     36     20     10     1     1     2.79     7     3     3         0     3.67
1995-96     Las Vegas Thunder     IHL     15     12     2     1     1     1.99                        
1995-96     Edmonton Oilers     NHL     34     15     16     2     0     3.44                        
1995-96     Canada     WC-A     8                 2     1.76                        
1996-97     Canada     W-Cup     7     5     2     0     1     2.31                        
1996-97     Edmonton Oilers     NHL     72     32     29     9     6     2.93     12     5     7         2     2.82
1997-98     Edmonton Oilers     NHL     71     29     31     9     8     2.63     12     5     7         3     1.93
1997-98     Canada     Olympics                                                
1998-99     Toronto Maple Leafs     NHL     67     35     24     7     3     2.56     17     9     8         1     2.43
1999-00     Toronto Maple Leafs     NHL     63     36     20     7     4     2.49     12     6     6         1     2.06
2000-01     Toronto Maple Leafs     NHL     68     33     27     8     6     2.39     11     7     4         3     2.10
2001-02     Toronto Maple Leafs     NHL     51     29     17     5     4     2.23     20     10     10         3     2.30

2001-02     Canada     Olympics     1     0     1     0     0     5.00                        
2002-03     Detroit Red Wings     NHL     61     34     19     6     5     2.49     4     0     4         0     2.08
2003-04     Detroit Red Wings     NHL     31     16     10     3     2     2.39     9     4     4         1     1.39
2003-04     Grand Rapids Griffins     AHL     1     1     0     0     0     1.00                        
2005-06     Phoenix Coyotes     NHL     60     32     21     3     4     2.91                        
2006-07     Phoenix Coyotes     NHL     55     18     31     2     4     3.19                        
2007-08     Calgary Flames     NHL     9     3     2     0     0     2.55     2     1     0         0     0.76
2008-09     Toronto Maple Leafs     NHL     10     1     5     1     0     3.93                        
Leaf Totals     331     162     117     38     19     2.53     60     32     24         8     2.25

NHL Totals     932     450     348     96     51     2.78     133     63     66         16     2.42

WCHA First All-Star Team (1989)
WCHA Freshman of the Year (1989)
WCHA Most Valuable Player (1989)
NCAA West Second All-American Team (1989)
King Clancy Memorial Trophy (2000)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1994, 2000)

- Signed as a free agent by St. Louis, June 16, 1989.
- Traded to Edmonton by St. Louis with the rights to Mike Grier for St. Louis' 1st round choices (previously acquired) in 1996 (Marty Reasoner) and 1997 (later traded to Los Angeles - Los Angeles selected Matt Zultek) Entry Drafts, August 4, 1995.
- Signed as a free agent by Toronto, July 15, 1998.
- Traded to Calgary by Toronto for Calgary's 3rd round choice (later traded to Minnesota - Minnesota selected Danny Irmen) in 2003 Entry Draft and future considerations, June 30, 2002.

- Signed as a free agent by Detroit, July 2, 2002.
- Signed as a free agent by Phoenix, August 17, 2005.
- Signed as a free agent by Calgary, January 17, 2008.
- Signed as a free agent by Toronto, July 1, 2008.

the HHOF take on Curtis:

One of the true "money" goalies of the 1990s, Curtis Joseph developed into an NHL star while guarding the net of the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. Although he was usually excellent in the regular season, "Cujo" became of the most feared playoffs foes due to his penchant for elevating his game in the NHL's second season. His cat-like reflexes and indomitable competitive spirit made Joseph one of the toughest goalies for shooters to face in recent years.

A native of Keswick, Ontario, less than an hour north of Toronto, the shy Joseph initially struggled to make an impression as a hockey goalie at the amateur level. He almost gave up altogether before venturing to Wilcox, Saskatchewan to play for the Notre Dame Hounds. At this point Joseph was trying to earn a college scholarship through hockey as a means of gaining access to an education. He impressed a few scouts and eventually was offered a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, which was trying to replace the departed Mike Richter.

Joseph excelled for the Badgers during his one season of college hockey in 1988-89. He won 21 games and was voted on to the WCHA Conference First All-Star team. A few weeks after the season "Cujo" was signed by the St. Louis Blues and left college for a pro career. He began the 1989-90 season with the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL but was eventually called up to the Blues to solidify their goaltending picture after Greg Millen was traded to the Quebec Nordiques. Joseph played in 15 regular season and six playoff games while solidifying the goaltending picture with Vincent Riendeau.

Joseph became the Blues' first string goalie in 1991-92 when he won 27 games in 60 appearances. The following season he won 29 games but earned league-wide attention with his brilliant effort in the playoffs. Even though the club lost to Toronto in the Norris division final, Joseph emerged as a hero after stopping 119 of 122 shots in consecutive double overtime games.

Prior to the 1995-96 season the cost-cutting Blues shipped the popular Joseph to Edmonton. He played well but the Oilers were in the early stages of a rebuilding process. In April 1996 he excelled for Canada at the World Championships and later that year represented his country in the inaugural World Cup of hockey.

In 1996-97 and 1997-98, Joseph helped the young Oilers reach the playoffs where his brilliance guided the team into the second round both years. Joseph shocked the hockey world in July 1998 when he left the Oilers to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although he never dominated the NHL's goaltending statistics, "Cujo" was looked upon as one of the league's top netminders whose play only improved during the post-season.

His impact on his new club was immediate as his excellent goaltending helped the Leafs register 99 points and reach the Stanley Cup semifinals. His coolness under fire impressed back up netminder Glenn Healy. Joseph won 35 games in the regular season and nine in the playoffs and was runner-up to Dominik Hasek in the voting for the Vezina trophy.

As Toronto closed out the twentieth century, Joseph's netminding was a key reason behind the club's challenge for the most points in the Eastern conference. The Leafs finished at the top of the Northeast division to win their first regular season title since 1962-63 and were a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup. Joseph's popularity reached epic proportions in hockey-mad "Hogtown."

Joseph went on to play two more seasons with the Maple Leafs and was a member of Canada's Gold Medal Olympic Team in Salt Lake City before leaving the team in the the summer of 2002 to sign as a free agent with the 2002 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Looking to fill the void left by Dominik Hasek who retired following the Wings Stanley Cup win, the team felt that Joseph would be the ideal replacement and early on has shown that the team made the right choice. However, following a one year hiatus, Hasek returned to the Motor City in 2003-04, which created a log jam in the Red Wing goal with Joseph, Hasek and Many Legace.

Injuries would limit Joseph to a mere 31 games in 2003-04 and following a cancelled 2004-05 NHL season, he was acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes. With the Coyotes Joseph would split both his seasons and record his 424th career win, thereby moving into sixth place on the NHL's all-time list, passing Tony Esposito. After a pair of seasons in Phoenix, Joseph would not be resigned by the club and remain an unrestricted free agent up until the Calgary Flames signed the veteran goaltender on January 14, 2008.

In Calgary, Joseph notched his 448th career NHL win which moved him past Terry Sawchuk for fourth place in all-time wins. In the post-season, Joseph replaced Kiprusoff to backstop the Flames to an exciting come from behind win after the club initially fell behind 3-0. However, the Flames were eliminated that round and Joseph would sign in the off-season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.


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