January 13, 2010
Here's 31 Cujo facts to chew on
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY
Stanley Cups: Zip.
In the debate as to whether Curtis Joseph belongs in the Hall of Fame, these are the numbers that will be dissected ad nauseum.
Yours truly thinks he should be enshrined. Colleague Steve Simmons disagrees. It will be an argument that heats up as his eligibility approaches.
In the meantime, there is another numbers game associated with Joseph. Specifically, why did he always wear No. 31?
"That's what they gave me when I first joined the St. Louis Blues," Joseph said yesterday during his retirement presser. "I wasn't going to give it back."
For the next 19 seasons he never did.
In honour of Joseph's career, here are 31 facts and fables about the life and times of Cujo.
1. Preparing to leave for his presser, son Tristan asked if they could skate at the ACC. "Those days are over," Joseph replied. "I'm retiring today."
2. If he does come back to the NHL in some capacity, he hopes it will be something to "make me jump out of bed."
3. His 454 regular-season wins trails only Marty Brodeur (585 entering yesterday's play), Patrick Roy (551) and Ed Belfour (484).
4. Winningest goaltender never to have won a Stanley Cup.
5. Third career in post-season shutouts (16); 12th in playoff victories (63).
6. Shares record with Gump Worsley for most career losses by a goalie (352).
7. Had more wins (454-335); shutouts (51-43), and a better average (2.79-2.91) than Hall of Famer Worsley, who won four Cups.
8. Born to an unwed teenaged mother who gave him up for adoption before he was a week old.
9. Grew up in Keswick.
10. Buddies since high school with Tyler Stewart of the Barenaked Ladies. "Drummers and goalies ... they're at the back, they're a little weird, they see everything," Joseph said.
11. Donated private box at Maple Leafs Gardens and ACC to Hospital for Sick Children so ailing kids, many terminal, could enjoy the games.
12. Donated room at Sick Kids that looks like Leafs dressing room for children undergoing chemo.
13. Owned a number of thoroughbreds along with long-time agent/close friend Don Meehan. Our favourite? "Chasing Stanley."
14. Lived in a trailer while playing Tier II as a 20-year-old in Notre Dame Saskatchewan. "The wind used to whip through that trailer. Six of us in there, right by the railway tracks."
15. As an undrafted player at ND, used to get Hartford paraphernalia and letters of support in the mail from David McNab, a Whaler scout.
16. Because couldn't afford equipment, ND found some way to budget new gear for him. "My old catching glove was as soft as the tie I'm wearing now."
17. Still asked to autograph photos of Doug Gilmour's memorable wraparound goal on him during the '93 Leafs-Blues second-round series.
18. Had mask ripped off his face by a shot from Leafs captain Wendel Clark in Game 7 of that '93 series.
19. Remembers how jubilant Leafs fans rocked Blues team bus after Toronto won Game 7. "We thought the bus was going to tip."
20. Will always be known in Edmonton for making "The Save" in Game 7 of 1997 playoffs versus Dallas, a spectacular mid-air diving snatch off a Joe Nieuwendyk shot. Oilers won in overtime.
21. In 1998, then-Leafs prez Ken Dryden was looking for ice cream at a Toronto corner store when he bumped into Meehan, who suggested the free agent Joseph would be a good fit. He was.
22. Coolest thing about playing in your hometown? "Looking around the stands and seeing friends, teachers, people you grew up with."
23. Joseph and teammate Mats Sundin were dubbed "The Wizards of Ahhhs" by one Toronto scribe for their penchant of saying "Ahh" before answering questions.
24. Will always be known for upending referee Mick McGeough while arguing he'd been interfered with during the 2000 playoffs between his Leafs and the rival Sens.
25. Had an indoor rink in his barn at his former King City spread.
26. Has told close friends that leaving Toronto for Detroit after 2002 season was a mistake.
27. On not winning a Cup: "I know what my detractors have said over the years. I can't change history. It's not like I didn't want to win a Cup. It just didn't happen."
28. On the Hall of Fame: "I feel flattered just being mentioned as a possible candidate."
29. Now spends most nights at various rinks as a hockey dad.
30. Son Tristan plays for Don Mills team that was coached by the late Peter Zezel.
31. As he prepared to face Alex Ovechkin in shootout last March, he thought: "How cool is this!" He stopped the shot. The Leafs won 3-2.
A lasting memory in a prestigious career.