TORONTO -- Curtis Joseph couldn't contain his emotions as he announced that he had become a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
The 35-year-old goaltender fought back the tears as he tried to explain why he turned down the Leafs contract proposal, ending his four-year relationship with the team, and accepted less money to become a Red Wing.
"I guess the bottom line is what I told Donny (Meehan)," Joseph said after numerous inquiries. "If at 22 years old when I came in the league, and you told me at 35 that I hadn't won Stanley Cup and I was able to go where the odds maybe 3-to-1 or 2-to-1 (to get one) I probably would have taken it."
When Joseph was asked if he thought the Leafs were close to winning the Stanley Cup he couldn't answer. Judging by his facial expressions he clearly didn't believe the team was as ready as the Wings to claim the trophy. Cujo did feel that his former teammates would support his decision.
"We're friends and I expect them to completely understand," Joseph said. "I'll be making a lot of phone calls today."
The Leafs wanted Joseph to return - there is no doubt about that - but last minute efforts by Leafs management couldn't change his mind. Cujo called Pat Quinn personally at 1 am Tuesday morning to inform him of his decision.
| Curtis Joseph signed with the Red Wings. |
"A year ago I probably couldn't see myself playing anywhere else. Detroit offers a very unique opportunity. Everybody that goes there says that the future is now. That was enticing,"explained Joseph.
The netminder thanked his family and friends for helping making the choice, the fans and media for their support over his tenure. Visibly moved, Joseph wanted the one thing for the organization even in departure.
"My last wish is that if I don't win the Cup in Detroit that the Leafs ... (win the Cup)," Joseph said struggling to keep his composure.
Assistant to the president Bill Watters, who was heavily involved in negotiations, isn't going to let the loss of Joseph hinder in future discussions with other players.
"But the bottom line is that Curtis has chosen to leave us. What are we going to do? Throw up our arms and stop running the franchise? No." Watters told the Canadian Press. "The offer made him the highest-paid goaltender in the history of the National Hockey League. We can't do much more than that."
No animosity exists between the two sides despite their failure to get a deal done.
"I think the world of Curtis, as did everyone in the organization," Watters said. "He's a wonderful young man, he has a great family. He's done wonderful things for the city of Toronto, particularly the children's hospital. Hey, we are really going to miss Curtis."