Did the Calgary Flames guarantee themselves a spot in the Stanley Cup final with the signing of Curtis Joseph?
But bringing the veteran goaltender into the fold for a stretch drive run was a very astute signing for a team with a really good shot at challenging for the Western Conference title.
Let’s be honest, the No. 1 goaltender job in Calgary belongs to Miikka Kiprusoff and that will not change as long as he remains healthy. Despite some ups and downs this season, particularly early in the year, Kiprusoff remains one of the NHL’s best goaltenders; a workhorse the Flames will likely play in the majority of their remaining regular season and all their playoff games.
So why sign a veteran for relatively big bucks?
Well, consider the fate of the Flames if Kiprusoff were to get injured. With all due respect to Curtis McElhinney, Matt Keetley and all the other goalies in the Flames system, is there anybody out there who thinks any of them could step in without the team missing a beat? Not a chance.
There are some who pushed Joseph as a potential starter at the beginning of the season when he was looking for a contract. I was not among them. To me, Joseph’s days as a No. 1 goalie are long over. Age has a way of doing that to even the most successful professional athletes. This is not to disparage anything he has accomplished in a long, fruitful career, during which he won 446 games with St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto, Detroit and Phoenix. Joseph entered this season fifth all-time in victories.
But if something was to happen to Kiprusoff, it is important the other players on the Flames have faith in his replacement. While Joseph likely wouldn’t give the Flames the exact same opportunity to win as Kiprusoff, Cujo’s teammates know he has been there, done that. Joseph hasn’t won a playoff game since 2003-04 with the Red Wings, but he does have 62 post-season victories to his credit. That is exactly 62 more than McElhinney and Keetley.
Some wondered if the Mike Keenan-Curtis Joseph partnership would be a good one, or merely a distraction for the rest of the team, but any disagreement the two had in St. Louis way back when is water under the bridge. Keenan did a very wise thing in contacting Cujo before the signing to make sure both were on the same page – and they are.
Keenan wants a second Stanley Cup and Joseph wants his first.
I’d say the signing of Joseph as a backup in Calgary puts both in a much better position to achieve that goal than they were a few weeks ago.
Mike Brophy's Double OT appears regularly on The Hockey News.com.
One of THN’s senior writers, Mike Brophy gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Mike's expertise delivered to you every issue.