GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Curtis Joseph signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday, guaranteeing competition for the No. 1 goalie spot on a team that was weak in the net until a few weeks ago.

Brian Boucher, who set a modern-day NHL mark with five consecutive shutouts for the Coyotes during the 2003-04 season, didn’t sign his new contract until Aug. 2.

Now general manager Michael Barnett considers the situation ideal.

“Neither of these goaltenders has ever been viewed as backups,” Barnett said. “They indeed are at different stages in their careers, but we saw that as a positive. Curt has an impressive history but isn’t content to rest on his laurels, while Boucher has every intention of creating more history. They both welcome the competition for minutes and don’t expect to have anything handed to them.”

The 38-year-old Joseph, who ranks ninth on the NHL career list in wins, went 16-10-3 in 31 games with Detroit in 2003-04. He posted two shutouts, a .909 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average, but had to play behind Dominik Hasek after injuring an ankle.

But Hasek was hurt before the 2004 playoffs, and Joseph had a sensational, nine-game run, allowing just 12 goals in nine games to establish personal postseason lows with a 1.39 GAA and .939 save percentage.

The season before, Joseph went 34-19-6, his 10th season with 27 or more victories and sixth with at least 32. He has a 396-289-90 record after playing for St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto and Detroit during a 15-year career that included the last nine years of Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky’s playing days.

“Curtis played against Wayne,” said Don Meehan, Joseph’s agent. “He’s intrigued and very excited about this chance.”

Red Wings games usually attract sellout crowds in Arizona, and Meehan expects Joseph to be a big draw for the Coyotes.

“I think it will be a great rivalry with Detroit, for one thing, but if you look at Cujo’s performance in the last playoffs, he led all goaltenders with his save percentage average,” Meehan said. “He’s a great goaltender, and I know the fans are going to love him.”

AP-ES-08-17-05 2106EDT


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