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Hasek will not hurt Cujo talks

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- The Dominator's disappearance will not alter Curtis Joseph's contract talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dominik Hasek announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon leaving the reigning Stanley Cup champions without a No. 1 goalie for the upcoming season. Red Wings GM Ken Holland said the team would address the situation through free agency or via a trade.

Does that announcement mean Curtis Joseph will test the open market after July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? Not necessarily according to statements by Cujo's agent Don Meehan.

Curtis Joseph contract talks continue.
"If for whatever reason we can't conclude a contract (with Toronto), obviously, it becomes an important issue for Detroit, which might be relative to our own situation," Meehan told the Canadian Press.

Talks between the Joseph's camp and Leafs management have been ongoing over the past week with more meetings expected this week.

"I've had an opportunity to meet Pat (Quinn) and an opportunity to talk to Bill (Watters)," Meehan said. "I expect we'll be meeting or talking again throughout the week."

Meehan was clear that Hasek's retirement would not effect any deals with the Leafs.

"All of the discussions we've had going back to a year ago have related to Curtis' status with Toronto. Our negotiations have always been based on that alone without any reference to any other team in any respect," Meehan said.

"Our discussions to date have been consistent with that position."

Joseph isn't the only goalie available as a free agent. Ed Belfour, former Dallas Star's netminder, Mike Richter, the New York Rangers' stopper and Boston Bruins' goalie Byron Dafoe make up the upper echelon available at the position.

Even though Joseph is the consensus best of the bunch, Belfour's name is mentioned most as a replacement in Detroit. The 37-year-old has won a Stanley Cup, would cost less money and has many Red Wings pulling for his acquisition, most notably Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman.

If the Red Wings do indeed go with Belfour, that would just leave the New York Rangers as a possible landing spot for Joseph other than the Leafs.

Stay tuned as this melodrama unfolds over the next week.
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