31 Days Until The Season Begins

Cam Lewis
10 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 31 we have Curtis Joseph, a goaltender who helped turn the tides for the organization in the late-90s.
Joseph went unselected in the NHL draft despite leading the Notre Dame Hounds to the Centennial Cup in 1988-89. He spent one season with the University of Wisconsin and posted a .919 save percentage over 38 games. That performance netted Joseph a contract with the St. Louis Blues.
After spending the first part of the season with the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL, Joseph was called up to the big leagues. He made his NHL debut in January of 1990 and allowed six goals in a loss to Bill Ranford and the Oilers. The Blues finished with a 37-34-9 record and Joseph led them to a first-round series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
After splitting the net with Vincent Riendeau in 1990-91, Joseph was St. Louis’ starting goaltender for the next four seasons. Between 1991-92 and 1994-95, Joseph played in 235 games and posted a save percentage of .910. He finished third in Vezina Trophy voting in 1992-93 and fourth in 1993-94.
The Blues finished the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season with one of the best records in the league but suffered a seven-game upset in the first round of the playoffs to the Vancouver Canucks. Given the team’s lack of playoff success, Blues general manager Mike Keenan opted to move on from Joseph.
The team signed veteran goaltender Grant Fuhr in free agency and traded Joseph to Fuhr’s former team, the Oilers. The Blues had also signed Shayne Corson from Edmonton in free agency and had to send two first-round picks to the Oilers as compensation. The Oilers flipped those picks and god Joseph and forward Mike Grier in return.

Edmonton Journal Newspaper Clipping From August 5, 1995.

The Oilers and their new goalie couldn’t come to terms on a contract before the start of the season so Joseph started the 1995-96 campaign playing for the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL for $100 per day. In January, the Oilers traded veteran goaltender Bill Ranford to the Boston Bruins and signed Joseph to a three-year contract.
Joseph posted a .886 save percentage over 34 games the rest of the way and the Oilers missed the playoffs by 10 points. In 1996-97, Joseph had a stellar year between the pipes, posting a .907 save percentage over 72 games. The Oilers made it back into the playoffs for the first time since 1992 and pulled off a shocking upset over the Dallas Stars in the first round.

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The 1997-98 season was similar for the Oilers, as Joseph played in 71 of the team’s games and helped them pull off another first-round upset in the playoffs, this time over the Colorado Avalanche. After bowing out to the Stars in the second round, Joseph inked a contract in free agency to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs reached the Eastern Conference Final twice during Joseph’s four seasons with the team but they weren’t able to reach the Stanley Cup. Joseph left Toronto in free agency in 2002 to join the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings, after Dominik Hasek retired.
The Red Wings had a great season with Joseph between the pipes, going 48-20-10-4, but the team got shocked in the first round of the playoffs by Jean-Sebastien Gigeure and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Detroit improved to 48-21-11-2 in 2003-04 but again lost in the playoffs, this time in the second round to the Calgary Flames.
After the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Joseph spent two seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes, one with the Flames, and one more with the Leafs before retiring in 2010. He finished his career with 454 wins, which ranks seventh all-time, and a .906 save percentage. Joseph’s 63 playoff victories are the most by a goaltender without winning a Stanley Cup.


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