Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood is retiring from the NHL after a career that saw him win 401 games over 17 seasons and saw him win three Stanley Cups. Osgood’s career is a fascinating one and one that will bring about one of the most hotly contested Hall of Fame cases of the modern era.
Osgood spent the bulk of his career with the Red Wings where he saw his highest highs and his lowest lows. Perhaps his most memorable accomplishment came in 2008 where he bailed out a struggling Dominik Hasek in the Stanley Cup playoffs opening round against Nashville to put the Wings on his back and carry them to the Stanley Cup. Osgood also helped lead the 1998 Red Wings to the Stanley Cup, but surrounding those championships were failures in Detroit that kept the Red Wings searching for another goalie.
From 1994 to 1996, the Red Wings suffered all kinds of tough playoff losses with Osgood at the helm as the starter. In 1994, Osgood’s rookie season, they were bounced out of the playoffs by the eighth seed San Jose Sharks in the first round. The following year, Detroit rolled through the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup finals where they were swept away by the uber-defensive New Jersey Devils. In 1996, it was an ignominious defeat in the Western Conference finals in six games to the Colorado Avalanche.
When the Wings went on to win the Cup in 1997 it would be Mike Vernon and not Osgood that led the way to that title. Vernon was so good in goal through the playoffs he won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year. After the 1998 Cup win, things got rough in the playoffs again for the Red Wings from 1999-2001 losing to the Avs two straight years and then in the first round to Los Angeles in 2001.
After that season, Osgood went to the Islanders where he went on to win 32 games and lead the Isles to the playoffs in 2002 and losing to the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round. The following season saw the Isles deal him to St. Louis mid-season and led the Blues into the postseason losing to Vancouver in seven games in the opening round. The following year in 2003-2004, Osgood won 31 games in leading the Blues to the playoffs as well losing to the Sharks in the first round.
After the lockout, Osgood found his way back to Detroit where he alternated between being the starter and the backup with the Wings. While being the backup to a future Hall of Famer in an aging Dominik Hasek is one thing, playing second fiddle to Manny Legace is another. Aging and giving way to Jimmy Howard was an eventuality, but Osgood’s career is one that didn’t see him dominate as a starting goalie but ultimately sees him look in the statistic rankings as a great goalie.
Red Wings and Osgood fans will point to his long career, 401 wins, three Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2008), as well as winning 30+ games in a season with three different teams as to why he should go in. Those opposed to him see him as a guy who compiled wins behind great Detroit teams over his career and had to play second fiddle to some great and not-so great goalies in order to win it all.
Osgood never won an individual trophy for his play and was twice part of a Jennings Trophy-winning tandem (In 1995-1996 with Vernon and 2007-2008 with Hasek). His career numbers are solid yet not spectacular finishing his career with a 2.49 career goals against average and a .905 save percentage over his 17 seasons. Osgood played in two All-Star Games (1996,2008) and was once named to the NHL All-Star second team in 1996.
Playing in the same era with the likes of Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur, and Dominik Hasek makes it tough to earn individual awards but Osgood found ways to get noticed, either for good or bad reasons. Is he a Hall of Famer? Let us know in our poll and in the comments.