Former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph announced his retirement today. He was perhaps the single-biggest piece of the Leafs’ two runs to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1999 and 2002. Joseph retires as the fourth-winningest goalie in NHL history with 454 victories.
It’s hard to recall a Maple Leafs team that relied more on its goaltender than in CuJo’s four seasons here. Pat Quinn’s run-and-gun style only worked because of the backbone in goal, Curtis Joseph. Remember, the Leafs went from 69 points in the 1997-98 season to 97 points in 1998-99, CuJo and Quinn’s first season here.
Joseph’s instant impact on the Maple Leafs’ fortunes was dare I say, ‘Gilmour-esque.’ The Leafs would bow out in the Conference Finals to the Sabres that season, but the Leafs were contenders again for the first time in five seasons.
Once the enemy with St. Louis in that memorable playoff series in 1993, CuJo was now a hero in Toronto with his unorthodox, acrobatic style. He was a fierce competitor who also brought a great deal of leadership.
Joseph and the Leafs reached the second round of the playoffs in both 2000 and 2001, before another long playoff run to the Conference Finals in 2002. Joseph then departed to Detroit, and the Leafs haven’t been as close since.
He retires as the winningest goalie without a Stanley Cup. However, he must be congratulated on a great career that is definitely worthy of hall of fame consideration.
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