Joseph's game has evolved

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Curtis Joseph admitted yesterday that at 41 he is not the goaltender he once was.

The three-time NHL all-star, who will backup Vesa Toskala with the Leafs this season, insisted he is, in fact, a technically better goaltender than he was earlier in his career.

Understanding that he becomes a little less athletic every year, Joseph, who last played for the Leafs during the 2001-02 season, has spent the past five off-seasons working with goaltending guru David Franco in Vaughan and believes he now is a sounder goaltender in terms of mobility and positioning.

That work has allowed him to extend his playing career into his 40s.

'CHANGE WITH TIMES'

"You have to change with the times, and certainly I've had some help through a friend of mine, David Franco, to change with the times," Joseph said yesterday, following a training camp session at Ricoh Coliseum. "If you don't change, you're going to get swallowed up. I've certainly changed my game a lot and hopefully for the better."

Joseph said he now relies less on instinct, acrobatics and athleticism.

"I'll still try to throw those things in there once in a while to keep everybody honest," he said with a laugh. "But certainly, I'm way more technical than I used to be and it makes a lot of sense. A lot of the moves that goalie coaches teach now make a lot of sense. I've incorporated that into my game. It wasn't easy, it took a lot of work, but it makes the game a little more enjoyable."

Joseph is expected to start anywhere from 10 to 20 games for the Leafs this season. Though the Leafs aren't expected to make much noise in the Eastern Conference this season, Joseph said he is excited by the exuberance at this year's camp.

"There's a lot of youth and excitement, a lot of guys who have dreams of making this club," he said, adding he plans to do whatever he can to provide some leadership and be a sounding board for the younger players.

"You can tell the young guys stories about guys that are older than me when I was playing in a Canada Cup or whatever. You pass those stories along and whoever wants to listen listens, and it's a lot of fun," he said.


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