Just a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience

Cujo’s sons play hockey here Boys 9, 11 travel from Phoenix


For brothers Tay­lor and Tris­tan Joseph, the ride to the mi­nor hockey rink is a doozy — 3,038 kilo­me­tres. And that’s one way.

Tay­lor, 11, and Tris­tan, 9, will be fly­ing from Phoenix this win­ter to play with the York Simcoe Ex­press, an elite Triple- A or­ga­ni­za­tion in the On­tario Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion. The boys will be in Ari­zona be­cause that’s where their dad works — he’s Cur­tis Joseph, the for­mer Maple Leafs goalie who signed with the Phoenix Coy­otes one month ago.

“ It’ll be a lit­tle bit of a chal­lenge,” mom Nancy Joseph agreed yes­ter­day in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Phoenix. “The boys are re­ally ex­cited about it. The hockey pro­grams in Phoenix are not as ad­vanced

as they are in Canada. Both of them love their hockey. When we moved to Phoenix, it was some­thing that was im­por­tant to Cur­tis, that they con­tinue with their hockey pro­grams.” But there is a pos­si­bil­ity the fre­quen­tflier brothers will face a reg­u­la­tory hur­dle, one that also tripped up Joseph’s new boss, Coy­otes coach Wayne Gret­zky, 30 years ago.

It’s a ques­tion of where the fam­ily’s home is. Both Tay­lor, who is in Grade 6, and Tris­tan, who is in Grade 4, are be­ing home- schooled in Phoenix by a Cana­dian tu­tor be­cause of their travel sched­ule. The fam­ily still has its farm in King City, and ini­tially Nancy Joseph said she was plan­ning to come north for one week each month with the two boys so that they could play with the Ex­press. Mean­while, the fam­ily’s two other chil­dren, sis­ter Madi­son, 13, and brother, Luke, 4, at­tend Phoenix- area schools and are cared for by a nanny.

In a sec­ond dis­cus­sion, Nancy Joseph said she would live pri­mar­ily in King City with the boys while reg­u­larly com­mut­ing to Phoenix.

“ They’re young boys so they might miss their dad a lot,” she said of the split ar­range­ment.

“ We haven’t worked out all the de­tails yet.” The whole fam­ily will also oc­ca­sion­ally head out on the road with Dadto see other cities. And some­times their paths will cross serendip­i­tously — on Nov. 6, for ex­am­ple, the Coy­otes will be in Chicago to face the Black­hawks while Tay­lor’s mi­nor pee­wee team is due to be in the city for a tour­na­ment. Nancy Joseph said the goal of con­tin­u­ing to play hockey in On­tario isn’t to groom their sons for the NHL.

“ I’m sure if you asked any Cana­dian boy what they wanted to do when they grow up, they’d say they want to make the NHL,” she said.

“ But for Cur­tis, if they were able to get a univer­sity schol­ar­ship for do­ing what they loved to do, it would be a bonus. It’s hard to make the NHL. To get a schol­ar­ship, to get an ed­u­ca­tion, that’s all you can ask for.” The two boys, how­ever, may need an ex­emp­tion from the OMHA to play for the Ex­press again this sea­son. Mi­nor hockey rules stip­u­late that a player must live and go to school in the same ju­ris­dic­tion as his team.

“ When the boys were signed to the ( reg­is­tra­tion) cards, Cur­tis Joseph was not un­der con­tract with Phoenix and ( the boys) were liv­ing here,” York Simcoe Ex­press pres­i­dent Paul Mar­tini said yes­ter­day. “ Now that they are do­ing the transcontinental trav­el­ling, this may be prece­dent- set­ting.” But Jim Kink­ley, an OMHA ex­ec­u­tive for the past 44 years, was less equiv­o­cal.

“ If they are liv­ing in Phoenix with their par­ents and go­ing to school there, then they are not el­i­gi­ble to play in the OMHA,” said Kink­ley.

“ It is against the rules,” he said.

“ It is not un­like the sit­u­a­tion when Wayne Gret­zky wanted to play in Toronto, al­though the fam­ily lived in Brant­ford.”

Gret­zky was de­nied per­mis­sion to play in Toronto in 1975. He left Brant­ford any­way to play ju­nior hockey.

“ It’s tough,” Kink­ley said. “ Cur­tis Joseph is a good sup­porter of the OMHA. But there would have to be a spe­cial hear­ing to set aside the reg­u­la­tions.” The Josephs plan to settle in King City when the 38- year- old Cur­tis’s play­ing days are over. They are even con­struct­ing a new home on their farm.

“ It’s al­most like we’re visit­ing here,” Nancy Joseph said of Phoenix. “So that’s where our think­ing is on that. If worse comes to worse, we can spend more time back home.”

Cur­tis Joseph may have left the Leafs for the Coy­otes, but his sons are loyal to OMHA teams.

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