The Leafs didn't take long to find a new goalie after Curtis Joseph's announcement that he would be signing with Detroit.
After a late Tuesday morning declaration from Joseph, Toronto staged its own press conference a few hours later to introduce Ed Belfour as the team's new goalkeeper, a move that gives the Leafs a proven puck-stopper with championship experience.
The 14-year NHL veteran spent the last five seasons in Dallas, including the 1998-99 campaign when the Stars won their first Stanley Cup. In addition to that most obvious difference in accomplishments between the two goalies, Belfour also won the Vezina Trophy in 1991 and 1993 and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in each of those years. He was also a Second Team All-Star in 1995 and played in the NHL All-Star Game five times, most recently in 1999.
| Ed Belfour is one of the most accomplished goalies in the NHL. |
Canadian fans will also remember the goalie known as "The Eagle" as a member of the gold-medal winning 2002 Olympic Team under bench boss Pat Quinn, a stint that may have paved the way for his landing in Toronto.
Now 37, Belfour had some tough times in his final year in Dallas and it became clear that the Stars were going to stick with Marty Turco as their top goalie.
"One thing about Ed is he loves a challenge," his agent Ron Salcer told the Dallas Morning News. "Things didn't end in Dallas as he would have liked them to and he wants to show everybody he's still one of the top calibre goalies."
What he can also show is a new wedding ring as the Manitoba native tied the knot in June. That might placate the notoriously feisty Belfour and be a good thing for the Leafs.
The terms of his contract are obviously agreeable to Toronto and give some insight into other moves in the short and long term.
Belfour's two-year deal is certainly for less money than what would have been offered to Joseph so the Leafs should have some extra cabbage to direct at upgrading their blueline or forward corps. The length of the deal, and perhaps the unwillingness of the club to offer Joseph his much sought after four-year pact, suggests that Toronto may think enough of its young goalie prospects Mikael Tellqvist and Sebastien Centomo to believe that one might be ready to step up into a starter's role in the next few years.
For the present the Leafs are mostly thinking about now. And now they have a qualified goalie that will turn dog whistles into eagle calls at Air Canada Centre.