TOP 100 OILERS: CURTIS JOSEPH (30)

Cujo

Curtis Joseph provided fans of the Edmonton Oilers with so many magnificent moments during the three seasons he spent here, but if you’re like me, there’s one burned into your brain. It happened April 29, 1997 with the Oilers and the Dallas Stars locked in a 3-3 tie in overtime at old Reunion Arena. That was almost 20 years ago, but you know what happens next. Of course you do.

Darryl Sydor circles Edmonton’s net and tries a wraparound. Joseph hugs the post and the puck goes to Joe Nieuwendyk at the top of the crease. A falling Nieuwendyk shoots at a gaping net but Joseph dives across the crease and somehow keeps it out. Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock looks skyward in disbelief. GM Bob Gainey shakes his head. Moments later, Todd Marchant takes a pass from Doug Weight, races past a stumbling Grant Ledyard and snaps the puck behind Andy Moog. Oilers win the series. It was Cujo’s most magnificent moment of all as an Oiler. The sequence is here.

Curtis Joseph

Goalie — shoots L

Born Apr 29 1967 — Keswick, ONT 

Height 5.11 — Weight 188 [180 cm/85 kg]

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

W

L

T/O

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

MIN

1989-90

22

STL

15

9

5

1

48

435

387

.890

3.38

0

852

1990-91

23

STL

30

16

10

2

89

874

785

.898

3.12

0

1710

1991-92

24

STL

60

27

20

10

175

1953

1778

.910

3.01

2

3494

1992-93

25

STL

68

29

28

9

196

2202

2006

.911

3.02

1

3890

1993-94

26

STL

71

36

23

11

213

2382

2169

.911

3.10

1

4127

1994-95

27

STL

36

20

10

1

89

904

815

.902

2.79

1

1914

1995-96

28

EDM

34

15

16

2

111

971

860

.886

3.44

0

1936

1996-97

29

EDM

72

32

29

9

200

2144

1944

.907

2.93

6

4100

1997-98

30

EDM

71

29

31

9

181

1901

1720

.905

2.63

8

4132

1998-99

31

TOR

67

35

24

7

171

1903

1732

.910

2.56

3

4001

1999-00

32

TOR

63

36

20

7

158

1854

1696

.915

2.49

4

3801

2000-01

33

TOR

68

33

27

8

163

1907

1744

.915

2.39

6

4100

2001-02

34

TOR

51

29

17

5

114

1210

1096

.906

2.23

4

3065

2002-03

35

DET

61

34

19

6

148

1676

1528

.912

2.49

5

3566

2003-04

36

DET

31

16

10

3

68

744

676

.909

2.39

2

1708

2005-06

38

PHX

60

32

21

3

166

1690

1524

.902

2.91

4

3424

2006-07

39

PHX

55

18

31

2

159

1481

1322

.893

3.19

4

2993

2007-08

40

CGY

9

3

2

0

17

181

164

.906

2.55

0

400

2008-09

41

TOR

21

5

9

1

50

383

333

.869

3.57

0

841

6 yrs

STL

280

137

96

34

810

8750

7940

.907

3.04

5

15987

5 yrs

TOR

270

138

97

28

656

7257

6601

.910

2.49

17

15808

3 yrs

EDM

177

76

76

20

492

5016

4524

.902

2.90

14

10168

2 yrs

DET

92

50

29

9

216

2420

2204

.911

2.46

7

5274

2 yrs

PHX

115

50

52

5

325

3171

2846

.898

3.04

8

6417

1 yr

CGY

9

3

2

0

17

181

164

.906

2.55

0

400

Career

943

454

352

96

2516

26795

24279

.906

2.79

51

54054

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

W

L

T/O

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

MIN

1989-90

22

STL

6

4

1

18

167

149

.892

3.30

0

327

1991-92

24

STL

6

2

4

23

217

194

.894

3.64

0

379

1992-93

25

STL

11

7

4

27

438

411

.938

2.27

2

715

1993-94

26

STL

4

0

4

15

158

143

.905

3.66

0

246

1994-95

27

STL

7

3

3

24

178

154

.865

3.67

0

392

1996-97

29

EDM

12

5

7

36

405

369

.911

2.82

2

767

1997-98

30

EDM

12

5

7

23

319

296

.928

1.93

3

716

1998-99

31

TOR

17

9

8

41

440

399

.907

2.43

1

1011

1999-00

32

TOR

12

6

6

25

369

344

.932

2.06

1

729

2000-01

33

TOR

11

7

4

24

329

305

.927

2.10

3

685

2001-02

34

TOR

20

10

10

48

557

509

.914

2.30

3

1253

2002-03

35

DET

4

0

4

10

120

110

.917

2.08

0

289

2003-04

36

DET

9

4

4

12

197

185

.939

1.39

1

518

2007-08

40

CGY

2

1

0

1

33

32

.970

0.76

0

79

Career

133

63

66

327

3927

3600

.917

2.42

16

8106

NOTABLE

To say Joseph, who arrived as the successor to Bill Ranford via the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues, had a flair for the dramatic is to understate. Joseph’s tenure in Edmonton, like his career, was dotted with memorable performances and stretches of brilliance. Joseph made 38 saves that night in Dallas. While the Oilers had emptied the tank to beat the Stars and fell to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the second round, Cujo finished that post-season with a .911 save-percentage.

Joseph was even better, if not quite as dramatic, in the 1998 playoffs as the Oilers came back from a 3-1 series deficit against Colorado in the first round to win the series in seven games. Joseph backstopped the Oilers to a 3-1 win in Game 5, then closed it out with back-to-back shutouts, 2-0 and 4-0. In each of those final three games, Joseph matched his jersey number with 31 saves. Even though the Oilers lost in five games to Dallas in the second round, Joseph finished the post-season at .928.

The other bit of Joseph magic that sticks with me is the 52 saves he made in a scoreless tie against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena back on Dec. 10, 1996. It was the first scoreless tie in franchise history, a span of 1,369 games at the time. How good was Joseph? Let Igor Larionov tell it: “Brilliant game. Best I have ever seen anybody play.” For context, Larionov played with a guy named Vladislav Tretiak back home.

THE STORY

The 1998 post-season was Cujo’s swan song as a member of the Oilers as he’d later sign as an unrestricted free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the kind of money the Oilers simply weren’t able to pay – he got a four-year deal worth $24.375 million to tend the twine in Hogtown. He’d made $2.3 million in each of his previous seasons in Edmonton.

Some Oiler fans, weary of seeing the team operated on a shoestring budget as player after player was sent out in the name of the bottom line, soured a bit on Joseph. “He sold out.” That’s an understandable reaction on one hand, but it’s hardly accurate. That’s the business end of hockey. Joseph enjoyed his time in Edmonton. He was a tremendous citizen here and was involved in the community and with several charities, including Cujo’s Cloud Nine, a set-up that allowed sick kids to watch Oiler games from a luxury suite.

Joseph’s flair for the dramatic didn’t leave him when he left Edmonton, quite the contrary. In his first game back here with the Maple Leafs, Oct. 13, 1998, Joseph made 28 saves to beat the Oilers 3-2. In another trip back, he blanked the Oilers 2-0 with 33 saves. When he was named first star of the game, Oiler fans gave him an ovation – just as they had many times before when he wore Edmonton silks.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

PREVIOUSLY:

  • Kaplan

    CUUUUUJOOOOO!!!!

    Loved Curtis Joseph, devastated when he left, but he was such a key figure in the Oilers’ post-season shockers of the late ’90s.

    Fuhr and Ranford (and Salo!) are my favorite Oilers goalies, but Cujo always had so much heart – and was the definition of clutch.

    BTW, how is it possible Cujo was here for only three seasons? I feel like I have five years worth of memories of his play.

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    Hard as a fan not to have a love hate relationship with those EIG owned teams.

    No other team in the NHL did more with less than those Oiler teams while giving us players to love as fans, even if it was brief.

    Cujo was a great goalie and fun to watch.

    • ubermiguel

      We can hate the pre-CBA NHL for robbing us of so many great players in their prime, but you have to love the EIG. They saved the team not for the money but only for the love of Oilers.

      Cujo was one of those guys I wish had won a Cup on any team, not just the Oilers. He would be a lock for the HHOF if he had lifted Lord Stanley.

  • Spoils

    love Cujo, but I’m looking forward to reconfiguring the top 30 into a top 20 team lineup with lines… you know, for fun… and –

    #1 Goalie Fuhr
    Backup Ranford

    and then there’s Rollie’s run in 2006?

    we have some clutch choices for goalies.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Was arguing over an assist in the first game of a long road trip the straw that broke the camel’s back in deciding to let Shayne Corson walk?

    Because if so that score keeper needs a bottle of rye sent courtesy of Oilers fans.

  • Kaplan

    Thanks for sharing that video of Marchant scoring the OT winner against Dallas. Believe it or not, I’ve never seen the clip, or ever thought to look it up!

    During the game, I was driving in northern Alberta, up near Athabasca, and listening to the live play by play on a very weak 630 CHED signal.

    Almost drove off Highway 55 when Marchant scored.

  • morsecode89

    Going to get a bit nostalgic here…

    Edmonton was a such a different city then. I was only around 10 years old during CuJo’s time in Edmonton, and I still remember those games well. I remember my dad literally running into me and my sisters bedroom after the Oilers won that game in April of 97′. He pulled me out of bed to come and watch the high-lights of Marchands goal. It had to be around 11 at night.

    That period in time was nothing but hockey. Me and all my friends played on the same team, went to the same school, and wore our oilers or hockey team shirts daily.

    We were all going to play in the NHL. And we were all devastated when people talked about the Oilers leaving.

    The mid to late 90’s in Edmonton was as middle class and blue collar as ever. My dad drove a used car. Everyone’s dad on my hockey team did, accept one close friend who’s dad was a lawyer. McDonalds after a big win was a big deal and a team dinner at Boston pizza was a special event. Used hockey equipment was the norm, and a game in Castledowns arena was a far drive from the Westmount – North Glenora community I grew up in.

    I didn’t have cable. Sometimes weekday games were on A-Channel. I remember my dad taking me to the Coliseum to watch the Oilers play the Red Wings on a Saturday night HNIC game. Stevie Y and Federov were in town, and my dad commented that the stadium was going to be sold out… That was a rare event.

    I remember getting to miss school during minor hockey week to play in the Atom tier 3 finals at the old Northlands arena. CuJo was there after the game to sign autographs for us after we lost.

    In the summer, we played ball hockey in a drive-way, or mini hockey in a basement. Hockey cards were birthday gifts, and a Jason Arnott rookie card was more valuable than money.

    What a time.

  • Prongers Promises

    What a time to be alive. I remember I got one of those CUJO mcdonalds mask statues from a girl for valentines day back in grade 5 or so. What a time. What. a. time.

  • Slanto3000

    Fantastic series from a decent team with heart. It was heartbreaking that Cujo moved on. It’s remarkable that the team managed to survive such a tumultuous time. I’d love Talbot to channel some Cujo magic in the playoffs

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Little known fact: Cujo was arrested and arraigned on charges at the end of game 5 in the 1997 in Dallas for grand larceny “You . . . cannot . . . believe . . . that save . . . by Joseph,” with that 1-0 win in the 2nd OT.

    Great summary of the series on YT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQbuTZ_EEIc

    All the goals and all the saves.

    And don’t forget who was in the other net: Andy Moog, who played lights out in game 5.

    Bonus: check the ticker at 25:19 of the video where you’ll see “The Penguins have assigned Mark Letestu to Scranton in the AHL.”