Undrafted goalie Curtis Joseph became improbable NHL star

Maple Leaf fan favourite Curtis Joseph is coming to Sarnia on Nov. 29 for a book signing. Submitted Photo

Troy Shantz
By the age of 21 most undrafted hockey players have given up on their dreams of playing in the NHL.

But for Curtis “Cujo” Joseph, things happened quickly after the scouts finally took note.

“I was playing tier two hockey and 18 months later I’m playing against Gretzky,” said Joseph, 51.

“It was fun.”

Joseph’s unconventional rise is detailed in his new memoir, Cujo: The Untold Story of my Life On and Off the Ice.

The former Toronto Maple Leafs netminder will be in Sarnia on Nov. 29 to meet fans and sign copies of the book at The Book Keeper.

Cujo said he didn’t really take to the ice until he was 10 or 11 and often then in borrowed equipment.

“To say I was a prospect would’ve been the farthest thing,” he told The Journal by phone.

Joseph said he was thrilled to be offered a hockey scholarship at the University of Wisconsin. But less than a year into his studies the NHL scouts came knocking.

“I wanted to go to school,” he said. “I thought that was the be-all to end-all. The NHL didn’t even enter my mind. They said, ‘You’re what’s called a free agent.’”

Joseph signed with the St. Louis Blues in 1989 and began a remarkable 20-year career in the NHL.

In 1998 Joseph joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, his favourite team growing up.
“It was a game changer… it was at another level,” he said. “Even the equipment you wore — you started getting paid for it.”

 

He was a three-time all star and recorded 452 wins during stints in St. Louis, Toronto (twice), Edmonton, Detroit, Phoenix and Calgary.

He was a two-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie, and 2002 he helped Team Canada bring home Olympic gold.
Today, Joseph works as an ambassador for the Maple Leafs, splitting his time between Toronto and Phoenix. He also helps out at Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux’s fantasy hockey camps.

He said writing the book was his wife’s idea, and he hopes it makes an impact.

“I want it to do a lot of good for people, and encourage (them to) go for it, no matter what their circumstances.”

 

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Curtis Joseph, author of Cujo: The Untold Story of my Life On and Off the Ice

WHEN: Nov. 29, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

WHERE: The Book Keeper, 500 Exmouth St.

OTHER: To attend the book signing you must have a numbered book purchased at The Book Keeper. Only those will be signed.