SUN Hockey Pool

Joseph happy to be back

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

He bided his time on the backyard rink, waiting for the phone to ring.

Curtis Joseph felt he still had something to offer an NHL club, and he wasn't ready to close the book on an outstanding career.

But it took a great performance at December's Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland to prove it.

"It was good having a backyard rink," Joseph said. "It was Dave Gagner's company that set it up. That's how his son (Sam) got so good, he'll tell you.

"I had a few calls this summer, but I figured the inquiries would be stronger three months into the season.

"It was fun in the backyard, it was grassroots. I was hanging out with a bunch of men's league guys too, although I wasn't playing goal.

"I told them I was going to the Spengler Cup and they said 'You're going to the Spengler Cup?' "

Joseph, 40, worked out on the backyard rink in King City, Ont., for two weeks prior to the tournament. He's had the rink set up for the past three years, although having been in Phoenix with the Coyotes, he didn't get much use out of it. He purchased an old ice-resurfacing machine from the city of Toronto to go along with it.

"I still felt really good," Joseph said.

"When you're not getting a bunch of offers then you start thinking it might be over. Because of my age, I certainly understand how teams work. If you're a playoff team, you have a good goalie. If you're not a playoff team, you're looking for that young stud, so you're going to give the young guys more of a chance."

At the Spengler Cup, Joseph helped Canada capture gold by winning all three games he played - twice earning him MVP honours - and finishing with a 1.95 goals-against average.

Upon his return, he signed with the Calgary Flames for the remainder of the season. Last night he made his first start with the Flames against his old club, the Oilers.

Things didn't go very well for Joseph, who was on the short end of a 5-0 loss.

Heading into last night, he was fifth on the all-time wins list with 446, one behind Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk. He's also fourth among active shutout leaders with 51.

Joseph was beaten early by Fernando Pisani on a rebound, and by Dustin Penner, who had an open shot in the slot. In the second a shot bounced in off Ales Hemsky, while Steve Staios and Sam Gagner added power-play goals in the third.

"I should have made a couple of big saves in the first to give us some momentum," Joseph said. "They got a couple of nice goals and I think from there they go some momentum and turned up their game."

Also in the third, Joseph came to the aid of his teammates, challenging Mathieu Garon after a scrum in front of the Oilers net. Garon turned down the invitation, but still got a minor for leaving his crease.

"Nothing happened; he was just standing up for his teammates," Garon said.

"The exact same thing happened last year when I was in Los Angeles and we didn't fight, I didn't want to get involved with him, I have a lot of respect for Curtis Joseph and it was his first game back. I don't think he really wanted to fight, he was just standing up for his team."

Joseph was brought in to help take some of the load off Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames workhorse had started 51 of the team's 52 games heading into last night.

Joseph doesn't know how often he'll get the call, but the 18-year veteran is just happy to be back in the NHL.

"When you get older, you just play for the moment," he said. "You enjoy every minute of it and you appreciate being here a lot more."


Videos

Photos