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Champs get Cujo

Report: Wings find replacement for Hasek

Posted: Tuesday July 02, 2002 9:59 AM
Updated: Tuesday July 02, 2002 4:07 PM
  Curtis Joseph Curtis Joseph made $6.57 million in his last season with Toronto. AP

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings again are relying on the formula that led them to the Stanley Cup -- bring in an aging, high-priced, superstar goalie to try to win another title.

This time, it's Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings signed Joseph to a $24 million, three-year contract to replace Dominik Hasek, who retired last week after leading Detroit to its third Cup in six seasons.

"With the loss of Dominik Hasek last week, Curtis was our No. 1 priority," general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday. "We're thrilled to bring Curtis to Detroit. ... We think he's an absolute perfect fit for our hockey club."

Joseph said it was a difficult decision to move.

"I'm excited about the Red Wings' organization. Obviously we all saw what transpired not too long ago," Joseph said. "Everybody knows Detroit's a great team, they're used to winning, and the future is now."

At a news conference in Toronto before leaving for Detroit, Joseph was overcome with emotion and discussed how difficult it was leave the Maple Leafs -- but that the lure of hockey's top team prize was too strong to resist.

"Probably a year ago I couldn't have seen myself playing anywhere else," he said. "Detroit offers a very unique opportunity. Everybody who plays there says the future is now. That was enticing. ...

"There's no guarantee's that I'll go to Detroit and win a Stanley Cup. But I'd like to take that opportunity."

Joseph, with his daughter on his lap and his family around him, said there were 'a lot of sleepless nights' in deciding his future.

He said money was not the biggest consideration in leaving Toronto, and added he wants the chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings.

Joseph compiled a 133-88-27 record and a 2.42 goals-against average in four seasons with Toronto. Joseph earned $6.57 million last season, which was the last of a four-year, $24 million deal.

Joseph broke his hand last season but went 29-17-5 with a career-best 2.23 GAA and a .906 save percentage in 51 games. He had a 2.30 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 20 playoff games. The Leafs were eliminated in the Eastern Conference championship series by Carolina.

"I guess the bottom line ... at 22 years old, when I came into the league, if you told me I was 35 and I hadn't won a Stanley Cup, and you are able to go where the odds may be 3 to 1 or 2 to 1, I'll take it," Joseph said.

Joseph became an unrestricted free agent after failing to reach a deal Sunday with the Maple Leafs, who then traded his rights to Calgary for a 2004 eighth-round draft pick.

Calgary had the rights for about two hours Sunday before the goalie became a free agent.

"He's similar to Dom in the way he can make that save when you think the other team can score," Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "His reactions are so fast, especially on the shots in close. I think he's really capable of playing good with a good team."

"I think maybe in Toronto, he and [captain Mats] Sundin were the two big players with all the focus on them," said Lidstrom, who won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP and the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman. "With us, he'll have other guys to take the pressure off him."

Joseph lost the starting job as Team Canada's goalie at the Salt Lake Olympics after a 5-2 loss to Sweden in the opener.

But he finished the NHL season on a positive note, winning Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final in Carolina with a sensational shutout and playing well in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 6.

Joseph, who also has played with St. Louis and Edmonton, is 346-260-81 during his 13-year NHL career.

 
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