January 12, 2010
Curtis Joseph's(notes) official retirement from the NHL today after 19 seasons is one of those "don't know what you got 'till it's gone" moments, where a player you just assumed would Chelios his way through the ages until he actually hangs up the skates.
What a career, and not just because he was blessed with one of the all-time greatest and most appropriate nicknames in professional hockey history: "Cujo."
He played for six franchises, most notably the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. He also played nine games for the Calgary Flames that are somehow more memorable than the 105 he played for the Phoenix Coyotes.
(Joseph also holds a special place in alternative NHL history, as the Blues offered him and Rod Brind'Amour(notes) to the New Jersey Devils as compensation for signing Brendan Shanahan(notes) in 1991. The Devils ended up with Scott Stevens and, eventually, had a low first-round pick named Marty something-or-other as their starting goalie. One of the great "What If's" in recent memory, up there with the Rangers winning the Eric Lindros(notes) ruling over the Flyers or Mike Milbury getting a job at Red Lobster instead of general managing the New York Islanders.)
Based on the numbers, Cujo was one of the most impressive postseason netminders of the last 20 years, posting a career 2.42 GAA and .917 save percentage in the playoffs. That includes a 1.93 GAA for the 1998 Oilers and a 2.30 GAA during the Leafs' playoff run in 2002.
Never appeared in a Stanley Cup final, never won a Cup. But he was fourth all-time in regular-season wins (454), fifth in career games played (943), 20th in shutouts (51) and had a career 2.79 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Oh, and tied for most losses in NHL history with Gump Worsley (352). That too.
In other words, based on the stats, he was the Mike Gartner of his generation of goaltenders.
Of course, that's Hall of Famer Mike Gartner to you, bub, as his inflated offensive numbers in the go-go 1980s led to impressive career totals. Like Gartner, Cujo never won a Cup nor held a significant trophy ... well, unless you count her, allegedly. But Gartner's in the Hall; so, as Toronto celebrates Cujo Day with the appropriate nostalgia, we ask you dear readers:
Pass or Fail: Curtis Joseph is a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender.
Answers in the comments, and check out Tim Wharnsby and Scott Morrison on CBC Sports for an interesting debate on Cujo's HOF creds.