Swiss route back to NHL?

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

MONTREAL -- In the midst of the snow-capped peaks of Davos, Switzerland, the Spengler Cup could go a long way in clarifying the respective hockey futures of former Maple Leafs Doug Gilmour and Curtis Joseph.

For Gilmour, who will serve as an assistant coach for the Canadian entry in the holiday tournament, the experience should help him determine if he has the appetite to one day occupy a full-time spot behind the bench of an NHL team.

For Joseph, the opportunity to showcase his talents on an international stage hopefully will send a message to any NHL teams in need of goaltending such as the Pittsburgh Penguins that, yes, he remains primed to turn away shots at the age of 40.

Whether Gilmour eventually opts to go the coaching route or chooses to pursue a path in the management ranks, this much is certain: He is one heck of a recruiter.

It is Gilmour who wooed Joseph to join Team Canada, making the suggestion to the veteran goalie when they ran into each other at the Air Canada Centre during the Maple Leafs' 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning last Monday.

"One of the guys we had pencilled in to play goal for us broke his finger and there were some issues with other (candidates)," Gilmour said.

"I knew Cujo might have some other options but when I saw him, I asked him if he might be interested in joining us."

Joseph's response?

"He said: 'Yeah, I'm in,' " Gilmour said. "In fact, he's very excited. For him, it's a chance to put on a Team Canada jersey again, represent his country again and have a forum to exhibit his talents.

"I respect him as a person and as a goalie. In fact, we have boys that will play on the same team, Don Mills, next season."

A member of the Phoenix Coyotes last season, Joseph is said to be in good shape. He has worked out with the Ontario Hockey League's St. Michael's Majors, thanks in part to the generosity of team general manager/coach Dave Cameron.

At the time he was approached by Gilmour, Joseph allegedly was mulling over an offer to join a team in the Russian elite league, a proposed deal that reportedly would have paid him well in excess of $1 million US for about four months' work. The deadline for him to decide on that option is tomorrow, although that issue seems to be moot now that he is slated to be at the Spengler, which runs Dec. 26-31.

Perhaps not wanting to step on the toes of Hockey Canada officials, Joseph's only comment when contacted about the Spengler was: "The official announcement of the roster will be made (tomorrow)."

The Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are among the teams mentioned as being potentially interested in Joseph for the second half of the NHL season.

In his role as player development adviser with the Leafs, Gilmour has spent the past 15 months serving a variety of capacities with the organization including going on a European scouting trip with assistant general manager Mike Penny last season.

While there was a push among fans for the Leafs to name Gilmour an assistant when Paul Maurice was named head coach in 2006, the former Toronto captain wants to proceed cautiously in order to make certain a career in coaching is what he wants.

"For me, the Spengler is going to be a learning step," Gilmour said.

"It should be fun. In any event, we are going into this to win."

Team Canada's head coach will be Sean Simpson, who serves that same capacity for EV Zug in the Swiss Elite League. Simpson has been an assistant with the Canadian entry for the past three Spengler Cups.

Jim Koleff, an assistant at last year's tournament, joins Gilmour as Simpson's assistants this time around.

A year ago, former Leafs coach Pat Quinn served as Canada's coach while Toronto goaltending prospect Justin Pogge was the starting goalie. Former Leafs defenceman Nathan Dempsey has received consideration to be on the roster, although injury woes might scuttle those plans.


Videos

Photos