Leafs legend Darryl Sittler signs autographs at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Oct. 1 PHOTO: JOSH BENETEAU

Q & A with Cujo and Sittler

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By Harlan Nemerofsky

On the eve of the beginning of the new NHL season, The Eyeopener interviews two former Toronto Maple Leafs greats, Curtis (CUJO) Joseph and Darryl Sittler (SITTLER) during the ScotiaHockey Viewing Party of NHL Face-Off at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

THE EYEOPENER: Hi CUJO. What was it like to play at the former Maple Leaf Gardens when you were playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

CUJO: Well it was great to play in Maple Leaf Gardens, it was a historic building. A lot of legends played [here] before me but being from Toronto it was great to be a Maple Leaf.

THE EYEOPENER: Did you grow up a Maple Leafs fan?

CUJO: I grew up a Maple Leafs fan and I’d watch them on TV, I used to watch them play regularly on Saturday nights so it was a real treat to play for the Leafs.

THE EYEOPENER: Now that the Ryerson Rams of the CIS are playing here, what do you think of this facility, now called the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

CUJO: It’s a tremendous facility. I was just telling someone they’ve done a great job here. It’s beautiful. Great use of the building. The roof hasn’t changed and [when] you look up into the rafters, it brings back memories.

THE EYEOPENER: Who was your favourite goalie growing up?

CUJO: I had a lot of favourite goalies but certainly here in Toronto, Mike Palmateer was one of my favourite goalies.

THE EYEOPENER: Reimer or Bernier?

CUJO: Well it’s a healthy competition, that’s for sure, so we’ll see how it plays out. I hope both guys are successful and the Leafs go far.
THE EYEOPENER: Hi SITTLER. What does it feel like to be at the former Maple Leaf Gardens, where you used to captain the Leafs?

SITTLER: Well, it’s always nice to come back. I played here for most of my career and I’ve always enjoyed it. There’s a lot of history and I have a lot of good memories in this building so it’s nice to see that it’s still active. The celling is obviously so historic and I remember as a young kid, going in and looking up and seeing how big the building was. So it’s good to be back.

THE EYEOPENER: What are your fondest memories from your time in this building?

SITTLER: Well, when I first came to training camp, I went in the dressing room and they pointed to number 27, so I knew I would be wearing Frank Mahovlich’s number. [I remember] the night I scored 10 points in a game, which is still a record today. I also scored five goals in a playoff game here against the Philadelphia Flyers. I remember these guys like, Lanny McDonald, Tiger William, Borje Salming, Mike Palmateer. Lots of good memories.

THE EYEOPENER: Who was your favourite hockey player as a kid?

SITTLER: When I was growing up, believe it or not, I was a Montreal fan and Jean Béliveau was my childhood idol. And I got to play against him: my first year was his last year. So I faced off against him in a Leafs uniform, which was really special.

THE EYEOPENER: Reimer or Bernier?

SITTLER: I don’t know if there’s a duel. Both of them are good goaltenders and I’m sure [coach Randy] Carlyle will use them accordingly. Everyone goes through hot streaks and cold streaks and I think because of that, we’re going to have a good season. You need the depth in goal in order to succeed in this league and I think we got that.

THE EYEOPENER: How do you think the Leafs are going to do this year?

SITTLER: Well i think we’re going do okay. It’s obviously a tough league and the division has changed with Detroit in it but we’ve got a lot of good young players who started coming together last year. And I think if we just continue on, we’ll make the playoffs and see where we go.

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