Canes Now

From the archives: CuJo Flapgate

The news that the Hurricanes are bringing in former NHL goalie Curtis Joseph, a most worthy opponent during the 2002 Eastern Conference finals, as a goaltending consultant brings to mind one of the stranger occurences of that playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs: CuJo Flapgate.

From the May 20, 2002, News & Observer (with bonus Arturs Irbe content):

AIDED BY PADDING, JOSEPH STILL MAKING SAVES

By Luke DeCock

staff writer

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph has stopped 62 of 65 shots in the Eastern Conference finals, but he had a little extra help in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

After taking a shot to the back of his leg in warmups, Joseph had a thin black rectangle, about five inches by 14 inches, attached to the outside of his left leg pads.

During the first two periods, it flared out to the back but Joseph came out for the third period with the attachment taped down at the request of the on-ice officials.

NHL rule 21(b) states that "no attachments such as plastic puck foils are permitted. Calf protectors must follow the contours of the calf."

"I just put a piece of padding there to protect [the leg], " Joseph said. "It was sticking out. It was covering the spot where I got hit, right on the nerve. ... It's no big deal."

A violation of the rule, which can only be enforced by an NHL inspection, results in a one-game suspension. The league must decide to inspect the pads -- unlike an illegal stick, an opposing team cannot demand a measurement.

Goalie equipment is inspected before the playoffs by NHL consultant Dave Dryden.

FAREWELL, OLD FRIENDS: In the other net, Arturs Irbe made an announcement of his own concerning his equipment.

This will be the last season for his beaten, battered and beloved 5-year-old leg pads, Irbe said.

"I am retiring after the playoffs my pads and gloves, " Irbe said. "Hopefully my favorite company can come up with something similar to what I feel so comfortable with."

Irbe has made innumerable repairs with his own hands to the dirty white leg pads. There probably isn't an original piece of leather on them.

And many nights on the road have been spent in his hotel room hunched over his glove with needle and thread in hand.

"Face lifts and liposuction and you name it, " Irbe said. "There have been some internal organs obviously exchanged."

The announcement is almost as shocking as it would have been had Irbe announced he was retiring along with his equipment.

His pads are as much a part of his aura as the old Jofa bucket-style helmets he collects, refurbishes and wears.

"They have become a very integral part of my body, I can say, because I know when the puck bounces off any of those pieces of equipment I know where it's going to go, " Irbe said. "It's going to be there underneath or it's going to be flat or it's going to be on the side. It's an unbelievable feeling."

Irbe was 7.4 seconds away from his first playoff shutout when Alyn McCauley scored for the Leafs, but he stopped the 20 shots before that goal and the six after it in overtime.

"He was on his game right from the start, " Carolina defenseman Sean Hill said. "When he plays like that, we have a great chance."

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