Curtis Joseph lands in Calgary
"It's very exciting. It's always been fun to visit Calgary. It's a hockey crazy town. If you could win a Stanley Cup in Calgary, it would be very special," said Joseph who was to undergo a medical examination Thursday morning before joining the Flames for practice at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Joseph, 40, is coming to Calgary to help take the work load off No. 1 goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for the stretch run,
"There's no playbook for coming in a little more than halfway through season," smiled Joseph, also known by his nickname, Cujo.
Joseph, who led Canada to a Spengler Cup victory last month, chose the Flames over the New York Rangers,who were also interested in his services.
The veteran netminder said there had been other offers since the NHL season began but, with four kids between the ages of 16 and six, he wanted to make sure he was going to a city that worked from a career standpoint and from the standpoint of his family. "I was comfortable with where I was in life. Maybe it (waiting) was a risk, but I didn't see it that way."
Joseph, who stayed in shape by working out and doing drills at a goalie school near his home in Toronto, said going to the Spengler Cup wasn't part of his plan but that the opportunity confirmed what he knew inside all along -- that he still had the hockey bug in him.
"It re-affirmed that I still wanted to play," said Joseph in an interview.
Asked if he had missed the daily camaraderie of being with an NHL team, Joseph didn't hesitate to answer.
"I sure do," he said. "I'm not really ready for the next chapter in my life. You might be a little older in hockey chapters, but if you are young for life and if you feel good within your body and mentally, why not try and help a team?"
Kiprusoff remains the undisputed No. 1 goalie for the Flames. Joseph, however, is a strong back-up.
"He's a great guy, a great team guy who can step in a win games for us," said Flames assistant captain Owen Nolan who played with Joseph in Phoenix last season. "He's is very capable. I don't think he is coming here to take Kipper's job. It's having two goalies we can count on at any time. That benefits the team."
The Flames and Rangers were the frontrunners for Joseph's services over the past week, while the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs also expressed interest. The signing also reunites Joseph with head coach Mike Keenan from their brief campaign with the St. Louis Blues.
Joseph appeared in 58 games last season with the Phoenix Coyotes and posted a 18-31-2 record with a 3.19 goals against average, .893 save percentage and four shutouts. He joined the Coyotes in August of 2005 as a free agent.
Joseph has played in the NHL for 16 seasons and has a 446-341-95 career record, 2.78 GAA and .907 save percentage with five different teams (St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto, Detroit and Phoenix). He has also appeared in 131 playoff games and has a 62-66 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
The Keswick, Ontario native recorded his 400th career victory in October of 2005 and trails Terry Sawchuk by one win for fourth place on the all-time list.
Joseph entered the NHL in 1989 when he signed with the Blues as a free agent. He played six seasons with the Blues and was later traded to the Edmonton Oilers. He played three seasons with the Oilers before signing as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998.
After four seasons in Toronto, Joseph hit the free agent market again and signed with Detroit, where he played two seasons with the Red Wings.
"This is a chance for me to play in Canada. That was attractive," said Joseph.
Joseph also was a member of the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympic teams.
It is technically Joseph's second stint with the Flames. In June of 2002, the Maple Leafs traded Joseph's rights to Calgary for an eighth round pick in 2004 and future considerations. He hit the free agent market the following week and signed with Detroit.
In 2004 he was with the Red Wings when the Flames upset them in the second round of the playoffs.
"I've played against them often enough to know that they play hard," said Joseph.
On Thursday the Flames assigned Curtis McElhinney, who had been serving as the back-up, to Quad Cities of the American Hockey League.