When Chris Osgood called it a career this summer, it set up this season to be the first since the early 90s that he wouldn’t be preparing for a NHL season in goal. With his career over and the debate over whether he’s a Hall Of Fame-caliber goalie set to rage on for the next few years, Osgood is staying in Detroit but changing things up job-wise.
Instead of being the guy leading the way in goal, he’ll be the one teaching the young goalies coming through the system how to do things better. Osgood is jumping on board with the Wings staff as an assistant goalie coach focusing on helping out Wings prospect goalies in the system. For him, this year’s training camp is going to have a decidedly different feel to it.
Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News caught up with Osgood to see how he’s adjusting to his new role and new life as a teacher on the ice.
“I’m excited about it,” he said, flashing a familiar smile.
“It’ll be fun. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to going up to Traverse City with the young guys.”
Freshly back from his annual summer stay at his home in British Columbia, Osgood spent much of the Red Wings’ voluntary skate Wednesday talking with the Wings’ longtime goaltending coach, Jim Bedard, whom Osgood is to assist.
“I’m not doing too much, now,” Osgood said. “I’m just learning from Jimmy; just kind of riding shotgun, listening to what he says and learning how to run the drills myself, so when I’m in Toledo and Grand Rapids, I can do that.”
For Osgood, the one thing he’ll be best at teaching younger goalies is how important it is to be mentally tough. Through Osgood’s entire career he was a guy who went from being a starter to being swapped out in favor or someone else with a bigger name only to keep proving himself worthy again and again. In the mid-90s with Detroit he traded spots with Mike Vernon. In the 2000s he left Detroit because the Wings were moving on with guys like Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph, and even Manny Legace.
It took until 2008 for Osgood to get his redemption in Detroit when he supplanted Hasek in goal during the playoffs and led the Wings to the Stanley Cup. You don’t go through a career like that without having the thickest of skin, a trait that defined Osgood by the time he retired. If Osgood can help the Red Wings’ youth to have that same brand of mental toughness, even the worst of games will only motivate them to improve and help keep them focused on moving forward.