SUNRISE, Fla. - Curtis Joseph has put any potential retirement plans on hold.
Buoyed by his improved play of late, the veteran goaltender said he would like to continue strapping on the pads in the NHL next season.
"No question, I still want to play," Joseph said after the Maple Leafs had completed their noontime practice at the BankAtlantic Center today.
"It's easier to retire when you donét feel good. That was the case earlier in the season. But I'm having fun now. I'm really enjoying the game."
Joseph admits some family issues made it difficult for him to concentrate early in the season, effecting both his focus and his play. But he has managed to overcome his domestic matters and feels he is excited about hockey again.
While he no longer is the dominating goaltender that he was during his first stint with the Leafs earlier this decade, Joseph feels he still can be a reliable backup. He exhibited some of the old Cujo magic in the Leaf 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday, allowing just one goal on six shootout attempts by the Lightning.
The Leafs appear to be leaning in a different direction in terms of a backup for Vesa Toskala next season. Whether any of the other 29 teams will take a chance on a 41-year-old goalie remains to be seen, although it likely is a long shot at best.
"I'm good for salary cap purposes," said Joseph, who earns $700,000 US this season.
Chuckling, he added: "I know Donny won't like to hear that, but ..."
Joseph was referring to Don Meehan, his long-time agent.
Joseph is 3-7-1 this season with a 3.47 goals-against average and .867 save percentage.
"He can still be a backup somewhere," coach Ron Wilson said. "He was not what we expected but he's been good the past three or four games."