Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kipper keen to work with Cujo

No doubt fairly secure that he's still set to receive the bulk of the work in the Calgary nets, it would seem that the arrival of Curtis Joseph isn't going to weigh too much on the mind of Miikka Kiprusoff

The much discussed arrival of Calgary's insurance policy has been the talk of the city and the Flames dressing room for that matter, as Joseph arrived in town to settle in for his time down the stretch with the Flames.

Kirprusoff who just signed a long term and lucrative deal with the Flames is still considered the team's franchise goaltender, the one that the Flames have confidence in to help them make a mark in this year's playoff season. But having an established goaltender such as Joseph set to spell him off should prove to be more than beneficial once the playoffs arrive. Already this year Kirpusoff has appeared in almost every game, a pace that if continued could probe detrimental once the real money season arrives.

Jean Lefebvre of the Calgary Herald posted an article to their website on Friday detailing how his fellow players were looking forward to his arrival and how it's expected that the long time NHLer plans to fit in with his new team.

Kiprusoff unfazed after Flames sign Joseph
Jean Lefebvre
Canwest News Service; Regina Leader Post
Friday, January 18, 2008

CALGARY - At least one Calgary Flame is thrilled to see Curtis Joseph arrive at the Saddledome.

Now that the 40-year-old puck-blocker is in the fold, no longer is 36-year-old centreman Craig Conroy Calgary's elder statesman.

"Oh, he's pumped," chuckled captain Jarome Iginla, Conroy's off-and-on linemate. "That was one of the first things he said. Have you seen him? He's just riding high right now."

Conroy wasn't the only player to have a specific, personal reaction to Joseph's arrival.

"Uh oh," bemused rookie left-winger Eric Nystrom said when he noticed the four-deep media mob waiting to ply the newcomer netminder with questions. "My stall's next to Cujo's."

The most-anticipated response, however, was from the chap who sits on the other side of Joseph in the home dressing room. That would be Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary's No. 1 masked man.
As it turns out, the redheaded Finn - outwardly at least - was rather indifferent to the entire development.

"It doesn't change too much what I'm doing," Kiprusoff insisted. "I've had a few partners the last few years and they've all been good guys to work with. I've just met Cujo, but everybody's been telling me he's a great guy, so I'm looking forward to working with him."

"For (Kiprusoff), things don't change," agreed goalie coach David Marcoux. "He's a professional. He had success with veteran goalies behind him and he had success with young guys, too. That has no impact or no bearing on what his preparation has to be.

"It's not about the profile of the individuals. It's strictly about winning hockey games. It's strictly about maximizing every goaltender's potential."

Still, does Kiprusoff see the parachuting in of a well-seasoned backup who just happens to be chasing legendary Terry Sawchuk on the all-time wins list as a slight? As a not-so-subtle message?

"It's goaltending," Kiprusoff replied. "You're always competing for ice time. It doesn't matter how old the guy is, it's always it's the same thing. It's two guys that are trying to do their best and are trying to help the team get wins."

As for how much relief he expects now that old pro Joseph has replaced rookie Curtis McElhinney as his understudy, Kiprusoff shrugs.

"That's always the coach's call," he pointed out, "not mine."

The coach in question, Mike Keenan, was away to attend to a personal matter Thursday and was not available to shed light on that particular topic.

"Kipper's played a tonne," noted Iginla, "and down the stretch, it's going to be busy again.

However Mike does the rotation, we know we're going to have two experienced goalies. And winning goalies. It'll be great to have him."

Joseph spoke Thursday about returning to the NHL after a half-season on the sidelines because his passion for the game was still smouldering. His new colleagues can vouch for the enthusiasm.
"You should have seen Curtis this morning," said Marcoux. "He had the fire in his eyes. Coming in here, taping his sticks . . . he was like a rookie out here. It was really impressive to see the desire and the fire in his eyes."

Marcoux is of the opinion that Joseph's still-acrobatic style will present a challenge to the opposition.

"From a technical standpoint," he said, "there are some differences there. In Cujo's situation, you will notice that he's technically different from Miikka Kiprusoff and I think that can be a huge strength for our hockey club."

So exactly how does a goaltending instructor approach a goaltender who saw his first NHL shots when said instructor was still a university student?

"The teaching aspect?" said Marcoux. "You never stop learning, but in Curtis Joseph's situation, we did talk about the vast experience and what we need to (concentrate on) is our team system in our defensive zone and he's been very good. He's been asking a lot of questions in regards to how we play certain situations and the way that we play the puck. Those are the details he needs to know so that quickly everybody can be on the same page."

Joseph, wearing the No. 31 he successfully negotiated away from American Hockey League-bound Curtis McElhinney, will be in uniform as Kiprusoff's backup tonight.

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