“Cujo: The Untold Story of My Life On and Off the Ice” Book Review: An In-Depth Look at the Autobiography of Curtis Joseph

In “Cujo: The Untold Story of My Life On & Off the Ice”, Curtis Joseph tells an amazing life story, full of ups, downs and self-discovery.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another book review, here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. If you’re not familiar with my style of book reviews, you can check out my previous book reviews at: http://doinow.com/book-reviews/

Furthermore, this is one of the three blogs that I’m posting here today. You can check out my “2018-2019 New York Rangers Mid-Season Report Card” blog here: http://www.doinow.com/1819rc

You can also check out my NYR/NYI 1/10 Game Review blog here: http://www.doinow.com/11019

When I saw that Curtis Joseph, who is familiarly known as CuJo, released an autobiography this past fall, my interest was piqued. After all, I’m a fan of goaltenders and what makes them tick. CuJo, who in my opinion, belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame, had a legendary career, which spanned over three different decades. (80’s, 90’s and 00’s.)

For Ranger fans, (this is a Rangers fan blog) while Henrik Lundqvist has always been a one team guy unlike CuJo, Lundqvist, shares something with CuJo – both are future Hall of Famers (in my opinion) and both have never won the Stanley Cup.

Whenever there is a list made about the greatest goalies to never win a Stanley Cup, names like Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo, Eddie Giacomin, Ron Hextall, Miika Kiprusoff, Olaf Kolzig, John Vanbiesbrouck, Chuck Rayner and others are all listed. However, at the top of all those lists is Curtis Joseph. It’s a distinction that CuJo rather not have, but it’s a distinction that CuJo accepts. It’s also something his kids tease him about!

CuJo on his book tour. Photo Credit: @CUJO

For me personally, being born in 1982, Curtis Joseph was a name I grew up with and was familiar with. However, growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, out-of-market hockey wasn’t as available as it is today. Being a New Yorker, it’s not like we had “Hockey Night in Canada” here, where I would be exposed to CuJo on a regular basis. In fact, my early memories of CuJo came through a Sega Genesis and the 1994 All Star Game, which was an ASG that was very Ranger heavy.

As time went on, I grew to have more appreciation for CuJo’s career. As an adult now, whenever readers ask me who is the best goalie to never win a Cup, thinking that I will say Henrik Lundqvist or Eddie Giacomin, to me, it’s Curtis Joseph. While Curtis Joseph had some good teams during his career, he never had a loaded team like Giacomin did in 1971-1972 with the GAG line and Brad Park. CuJo never had a team that Lundqvist had in 2014-2015.

In 2019, it looks like that barring injury, one day Curtis Joseph, who retired as the goalie with the fourth most amount of all-time wins (Roberto Luongo has since surpassed CuJo’s 454 wins with 479 wins) will see both Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury surpass him too.

As I’ve made mention before on this blog, it will be easier for goalies to break these All-Time Win records, as we are in the no-tie era. In Curtis Joseph’s near 20 year career as an NHL goaltender, CuJo only played four seasons in the no-tie era. He also lost a full season because of the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. If you really look at it, if CuJo didn’t lose a season, and played his whole career in the no-tie era, it’s very likely he would’ve retired with 500+ wins.

Co-author, Kirstie McLellan Day, also had me interested in this book. Photo Credit: @kmclellanday

If you’re a regular reader of these blogs or just checked out the book review link I included at the top of this blog, you can see I’m an avid reader. Kirstie McLellan Day, who assisted CuJo with his story, was the co-author of this book. I’m very familiar with her work, as I really enjoyed her work on “99 Stories of the Game” by Wayne Gretzky, “Tough Guy” by Bob Probert & Dani Probert and “Playing with Fire” by Theo Fleury. All of her books are as good as a playoff hat trick, so knowing that she was part of this book, I looked forward to receiving this book in the mail, once I put it in my Amazon cart.

In “Cujo: The Untold Story of My Life On & Off the Ice” (From here on in, I will be referencing it as “CuJo”) the book isn’t just about hockey. “CuJo” is a story of human redemption, overcoming adversity and proof that hard work triumphs all.

CuJo still pops up at Leafs games. Photo Credit: @CUJO

CuJo could’ve wrote a book strictly about hockey, as he had an amazing career. However, after being influenced by his second wife, former “Playboy” magazine Playmate Stephanie Glasson (I’ll wait here while you do a Google image search on her) CuJo decided to tell the story of his upbringing, a story that he previously never made public.

In “CuJo”, Joseph talks about a childhood that included two mothers and three fathers. He also talks about not meeting his real mother until he was well established in the NHL. CuJo’s childhood would influence him to become the family man that he is today, as he is the father of an extended family with seven children. (I wonder if CuJo’s strong belief in family is the reason why he didn’t get into his divorce. CuJo was brutally and extremely honest in his life’s account, with only his divorce being glossed over.)

Joseph talks about how he grew up living in a mental home for adults. Obviously, there was something wrong with these adults and even a pedophile was living among Joseph and his siblings. Joseph would then get into how his mother, who he didn’t know wasn’t his real mother at the time, didn’t show much interest in him. Joseph would also talk about being the product of a mixed family.

Being from a poor household, Joseph had to make his own breaks, as unlike other children who grew up to be hockey stars, his parents never showed interest in his budding hockey career. Unlike many others, there are no stories about Joseph’s family accompanying him on long road trips to God-Knows-Where-Canada, just for CuJo to play amateur hockey. That said, Joseph would go on to list the many families and people that showed charity towards him and who helped him along the way.

To this day, Joseph has strong ties to the Leafs, Blues, Oilers and Coyotes alumni. Photo Credit: @CUJO

While this book is obviously about hockey, the main theme throughout the book is family. After detailing his early days, CuJo gets into his college days, before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Blues. Of note to Ranger fans, CuJo talks about the two times where the Rangers showed interest in CuJo, but obviously, every time the opportunity arose, CuJo decided to play elsewhere.

After having a great college career that saw him win a Centennial Cup with Notre Dame of Saskatchewan (The team still has reunions to this day) CuJo moved to the University of Wisconsin. Once turning pro, the book really picks up, as CuJo details every year of his career and discusses all the big name teammates, coaches and rivalries that he encountered.

Three names in this book really stick out, as CuJo talks about his dealings with Wayne Gretzky, at both a professional (Team Canada & Phoenix Coyotes) and personal level. In fact, Gretzky wrote the foreword to this book and it was on 99’s suggestion, that CuJo decided to have another kid with his second wife.

The second name that stuck out to me was Brett Hull, as CuJo talked about Hull’s greatness and leadership. The third name that stuck out to me was Mike Keenan, as CuJo played for “Iron Mike” in St. Louis and in Calgary. In fact, Keenan was the reason CuJo left St. Louis only for CuJo to play for him years later, when Keenan apologized and recruited him to play for the Calgary Flames.

Also discussed in this book – CuJo’s charity work, which is something I found impressive. Photo Credit: @CUJO

CuJo talks about his days with the Blues, before having a parting of the ways with the club because of Mike Keenan. From there, CuJo talks about his days with the Oilers. CuJo loved playing for Edmonton. After leaving Edmonton, CuJo talks about his days with the Leafs, which is probably how most fans remember CuJo. CuJo then talks about trying to chase a Cup with the Red Wings and how that didn’t work out. CuJo then transitions into his career with the Flames and the Coyotes, before somewhat returning full circle, as he finished up his playing days with the Leafs.

While CuJo is talking about his impressive career, I also enjoyed how frank he was about money and his role on teams. CuJo knew when he deserved more money and was blessed to have an agent that didn’t try to screw him, which is a rarity in today’s sports world. Then, as CuJo got older, he accepted his role as a senior man on a struggling Coyotes team. He would then embrace the fact that his prime was over and despite being a player who had to be the rock of a team, CuJo had no problem with becoming a back-up goalie.

When I finally closed the book on “CuJo”, I found Curtis Joseph to be a level-headed family man. Obviously, this is his book and his words, but there is nothing out there to question what he’s saying either.

CuJo was successful on and off the ice! Photo Credit: @CuJo

At this point, I’d like to share to you some pages from the book that I found the most interesting. All pages are property of CuJo, Kirstie McLellan Day and Triumph Books. Let’s hope they understand I’m trying to promote their book here, as I can’t find a place to get expressed consent to share these photos! Without further ado, here’s what I really enjoyed out of “CuJo”:

CuJo, Mrs. CuJo and the Great One. Photo Credit: @CUJO

I truly believe that this is a book that even non-hockey fans will enjoy. Obviously, this book is geared for hockey fans, but there’s enough human interest stuff to keep a non-hockey fan hooked.

You can pick up this book at Amazon.com, because really, I don’t know where else you can pick up books these days. To buy this book, visit https://www.amazon.com/Cujo-Untold-Story-Life-Off/dp/1629376787

Since this is a new book, it’s hard to get this book for cheap, like you can with other used hockey books. I believe the cheapest you can get it for is $13.99 on a kindle. However, I splurged here, and got the hardcover copy, as despite writing these long ass blogs on a daily basis, I can’t read books electronically. I like having the book in my hands.

In closing, I really enjoyed this autobiography and found “CuJo” to be an extraordinary story with a great ending.

As always, thanks for reading and…


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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