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.