RALEIGH, N.C. – Former National Hockey League (NHL) netminder Curtis Joseph felt it was the right time to transition back into the game.
Since he retired following the 2008-2009 season in his brief second tour of duty with the Toronto Maple Leafs that ended a storied 18-year playing career, he focused on being a dad and raising his kids.
With homes in Oakville, Ontario and Virginia Beach, Va., Joseph, aka ‘Cujo’, maintained a close reach to the game and kept close contact with former teammates and players.
Getting into coaching was not an immediate desire or interest, but one that close friend and Carolina Hurricanes pro scout/advisor Joe Nieuwendyk apparently massaged over time.
“I always thought about it,” Joseph said.
“I have some goaltending friends in the NHL and I helped them in staying a part of the game. Joey – I’d see him at different events and he’d always ask me. He got talking with Ron Francis and it was a good time in my life to get back into the game.”
The Carolina Hurricanes brought him on to be a goaltender consultant in July, primarily to work as a part of the goaltending coaching staff led by David Marcoux in developing the team’s goaltending prospects at the American Hockey League (AHL) level.
While he was watching from the stands at the Hurricanes’ recent prospect camp, he pointed out that, in general, young goalies have been developed with a better skill foundation from which to progress from.
“They’ve had goalie coaches their whole lives it seems like,” Joseph said.
“Whereas, when I played, none of us had goalie coaches. They’re bigger and they have great technique. It’s fun to watch.”
Talking and guiding the professional careers of the Hurricanes’ up-and-coming prospects and speeding up their development process to become pros will be the core of what Joseph will provide, particularly when they’re playing in Charlotte.
However, even if they’re playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), or back with their junior clubs, online interaction with video will help him bridge the gap for them and provide a dedicated team resource with whom to work with.
As an undrafted free agent, Joseph worked his way up and through playing Junior B (King City), Tier-two Junior A (Richmond Hill, Newmarket), prep school (Notre Dame – Saskatchewan), and NCAA hockey (University of Wisconsin) before making it to the NHL with the St. Louis Blues.
No word will be more genuine and more helpful during times of struggle and low confidence than to hear from someone like Joseph who forged his career on hard work, determination and effort to become the league’s fourth all-time winningest goaltender.
“One thing I tell them is, don’t be intimidated.
“Everybody’s in the same boat. Don’t be intimidated; be confident. Let your skills shine. Try and get noticed because everybody’s good out here. Have confidence and don’t feel like you don’t belong – don’t let that be a factor.”