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Cujo handle Hurricanes but breaks paw

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - Disappointment can come many different ways but rarely does it coincide with winning a gold medal.

Curtis Joseph broke the metacarpal bone in the back of his glove hand late in the Leafs 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

Honoured along with Catriona LeMay Doan and Pat Quinn before the game for their Olympic accomplishments, Joseph was riding a high that few athletes ever taste. Now he has to deal with the opposite side of the coin.

It will be six-to-eight weeks before Joseph is patrolling the net again. That puts him out of action until at least the beginning of the first round of the playoffs.

"We're hopeful that it's quicker, there's some procedures that we're going to try," head coach Pat Quinn said. "The ultrasound, that seems to speed up the healing process but that isn't a guarantee to work on everybody."

Joseph was following a Carolina player across the crease with less than nine minutes left in the game. Cujo went down and tried to pushed off from the side of the net as leverage but his hand rolled into the mesh, breaking the bone.

After the incident Joseph headed straight for the dressing room before most realized what had actually happened on the play.

"I knew right away that something was wrong," said Joseph, who talked to the media with his hand incased in a splint. "It felt like it was bent backwards."

To say the injury is devastating to the Leafs is probably the biggest understatement ever uttered. With Joseph out, the hopes fall to backup Corey Schwab.

The native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan has played in just 12 games this season posting a 4-5-0 record. He has six seasons of NHL experience under his belt.

"Do I expect him to be as good as Curtis, probably not but he's good player," Quinn said. "He's been helpful to us certainly since we signed him in the summer. He's played some pretty good hockey in his career."

The Leafs will call up a goalie from St. John's before Friday's game against the Devils in New Jersey. Young Mikael Tellqvist was practicing with the team while Joseph was still in Salt Lake but no decision has been as yet.

Quinn said he would look into the possibly of picking up a goaltender in a trade but also stated that his ability to do so is limited bcause of a "lean" minor-league system. Nik Antropov, considered a valuable talent, just suffered his second serious knee injury in two years.

The Leafs will have to go on without Joseph during their tough stretch drive but that doesn't mean the team will be in that much trouble. At least one person doesn't think so.

"I'm optimistic that we're going to stick together and have a good month here," Joseph said.

Notes: Alexander Mogilny missed his sixth-straight game because of lower back problems. The speedy Russian has been skating but he doesn't know when he'll be ready ... St. John's callup Paul Healey recorded his first NHL point assisting on Robert Reichel's goal ... Aki Berg and Jyrki Lumme were a combo after playing together during the Olympics ... Darryl Sittler was honoured as one of the Leafs Top 25 Players of all-time.
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