It wasn't too long ago when Curtis Joseph minded the Toronto Maple Leafs net when he was actually good at it.
But there comes a time where even the great become "has-beens", which is exactly what Joseph is now. And it isn't as if he hasn't been given the chance to endear himself once more to the fans of Toronto after his rather rough departure to Detroit in the aftermath of a messy contract dispute.
Not long ago I remember idolizing CuJo—a name I got into the habit of using constantly—and when he departed for Detroit, I was utterly disappointed. There was no doubt about it, Joseph was an excellent goaltender, and his acrobatic, spectacular saves will certainly be remembered.
However, there is still much negativity surrounding Joseph and not all fans have treated his arrival as the Leafs' backup as a fortunate turn of events.
And it'd be hard to argue otherwise.
As of now, Joseph is posting a 3.95 GAA with a .851 save percentage. These numbers are horrendous, even for a backup. It was surprising when Joseph was signed in the offseason, but there was still the benefit of the doubt when it came to Joseph—he posted a GAA just over three in the 2006-2007 season in 55 games with Phoenix.
But therein lays the contradiction within the organization—yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Did they not solemnly announce prior to the start of the season that, "wins and losses don't matter." We will be competitive, but how far we compete should not be expected to venture into the playoffs.
This was a bold and smart move for the management. Still, there are inconsistencies with this team's motivations. At first, we believe we're in a rebuilding stage, which is great. However, we regress and sign an aging backup in Joseph.
What was Joseph to accomplish? Mentor Toskala? We all know that can't have been the main reason, so what else is there?
Here's one: it was a comfort signing for Joseph. He wanted to make amends to Toronto—we can't say for sure, but we know there was tension between Joseph and some fans of the Leafs'—and what better way to show his loyalty to Toronto by returning in between the pipes? Plus, he was close to home and the chances of him joining a Cup-contending teams were slim.
So we sign him, and give Joseph a chance. That's all it should be, though. A chance. And that chance should run out now. Joseph has done nothing noteworthy to warrant his spot on this team.
If we're intent on rebuilding, and placing an emphasis on youth, not aging veterans, use the farm system to fill the void left by Joseph's departure. Although, Pogge has shown a lack of confidence in the AHL, a trip to the NHL may be just what he needs.
Of course, Pogge's stats show no sign that he should be in the NHL, but there are times where younger players, especially those so highly touted by their organization, are treated too much like "star players" and begin to lose focus, or their sense of accomplishment when left in the "lesser league"—in this case, the AHL.
By sending Joseph packing and giving Pogge a chance, we can test the mettle of our apparent number one goaltender prospect, while getting rid of an aging veteran—something this team should be focused on doing.
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