Tag: Chris Osgood

Howard Osgood

Lockout puts crimp in Howard-Osgood bromance

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Several things have been lost during the lockout thus far — jobs, games and optimism, to name a few.

But how about friendship?

That’s the case in Detroit, where Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is lamenting the loss of his good buddy Chris Osgood.

Here’s more, from the Free Press:

Since he entered the NHL, Jimmy Howard has come to rely on Chris Osgood — as a mentor, a booster, and most of all, a friend.

The lockout that’s now in its 11th day dividing team personnel from players has left Howard unable to have contact with Osgood, who retired from the Wings a year ago and transitioned to goaltending development coach.

“It’s weird,” Howard said, laughing, of their new relationship. As for play dates between his young son, James Russell IV, and Osgood’s young son Max, “only our wives can get together.”

The two have known each other since the end of the last lockout. In 2005-06, a 21-year-old Howard made his debut for the Wings while Osgood battled it out with Manny Legace for the No. 1 gig.

Since then, other Detroit netminders have come and gone — Dominik Hasek, Joey MacDonald, Ty Conklin — but Howard and Osgood (Howgood? Osward?) have remained constants.

As such, Howard has a cache of drills and practice routines learned from Osgood and Detroit goalie coach Jim Bedard. That’s how he’s keeping sharp. He’s also fortunate to have the assistance of a potential new BFF — Todd Bertuzzi.

“I know what I have to do, and I’ve worked with Jimmy for long enough that I know a lot of his drills,” Howard said. “And Bert always participates in them before practice, so we’ll be able to get things going here once we get used to skating out here by ourselves.”

Mike Modano explains retirement: ‘It’s just time’


Earlier today, we shared Mike Modano’s announcement that he will hang up his skates after 21 seasons in the NHL. It’s not exactly shocking news that the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer decided to finally end his career, but it underscores the conclusion of a great era for USA Hockey as well.

Modano’s explanation was pretty reasonable. He said that it was “just time,” explaining that he hadn’t gotten any calls from NHL teams after free agency began during July 1.

Modano figured that was it, until he received a potential training camp tryout from the Vancouver Canucks. He decided to turn the offer down for fitness reasons, although it’s acceptable to think that he said “No” because it seems wrong for the all-time leader in points and goals among American-born players to go to training camp to merely fight for a deal.

“I told him I had to pass because I hadn’t touched a weight or unzipped my bag since we lost in San Jose,” he said.

The final hockey memory of Modano might be his rough final season with the Detroit Red Wings, where he earned just 15 points in 40 games in an injury-ravaged 2010-11 campaign. He even found himself as a healthy scratch during most of the playoffs, but fellow Red Wings retiree Chris Osgood thought that Modano was about to turn the corner.

“He was on the verge of really producing for us before he got injured,” former Red Wings teammate Chris Osgood said. “By the time he was able to play, it was too late. But back in the 1990s, few guys could skate and shoot like him. I can still see him flying down the ice, cutting down the lane and snapping off a shot toward the high glove.”

In the big picture, it doesn’t really matter how his career ended. Modano made such a huge impact on the Dallas Stars franchise (where he spent 20 of his 21 seasons) and American hockey that few should remember him for his late-career swoon.

“Scores of kids grew up pretending to be Mike Modano, not only in our country, but across the world,” Dave Ogrean said. “That fact alone helps frame the enormous impact he’s had on the game. His accomplishments on the ice speak for themselves. He’s one of our greatest players ever.”


“He was invaluable in helping sell the game of hockey in Dallas,” [Stars GM and former teammate Joe] Nieuwendyk said. “Mike is the face of our franchise and I think it is safe to say that no one else will wear No. 9 for the Dallas Stars.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman congratulated Modano on an outstanding career.

“We thank Mike for giving National Hockey League fans 21 years of thrills with his speed, his skill, his craftsmanship and his class,” Bettman said. “Mike also excelled on the international stage, representing the NHL and USA Hockey with great distinction.”

As Modano contemplates his next step, many in the hockey world will debate where exactly he ranks among the greatest U.S.-born players to ever lace up skates. If you gauge a player based on more than just stats and skills (such as his ability to grow the sport), an argument can be made that he might be the most important American player of all-time.

Either way, Modano’s impact won’t be forgotten anytime soon, even if his playing days are finally over.

Chris Osgood adapting to a new life as a goalie coach

Chris Osgood

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.

Chris Osgood’s retirement also marks the likely end of his distinct mask

Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche

Ever since Jacques Plante defied the NHL’s He-Man culture by donning a mask, people have taken notice of a netminder’s headgear. From the inventive stitching scheme worn by Gerry Cheevers to Gilles Gratton’s out-there tiger mask, many goalies are remembered for the creative designs that adorned their masks.

Artwork is really the only way to spot much personality in a goalie’s mask anymore, which seems fitting since most netminders share the same butterfly techniques on the ice. You can’t really blame goalies going with the modern framework of masks, however, because the bottom line is that they provide unprecedented (though not perfect) protection from the vulcanized rubber that can travel toward their heads.

Chris Osgood will be remembered for notching 401 wins and being the on-and-off starter for the dynastic Detroit Red Wings, but his retirement could also mean the end of his old school helmet. That’s something that the Toronto Star’s Denis Grignon discussed in this interesting story.

“We’d look at our reflection in the glass and think, ‘yeah, this is cool,’ ” reminisces Osgood about his time playing junior in Medicine Hat, about wearing the helmet and cat’s eye cage combo, which morphed into Bauer and Winwell versions in later years.


“I was always laid back,” said Osgood. “(Other goalies) would get their masks painted. I never wanted any attention on myself. And that’s what my helmet represented.”

Former Maple Leaf Glenn Healy, who wore The Helmet for his entire career until he retired in 2001, concurs.

“We weren’t one of those guys who gets his fancy little mask airbrushed with your superheroes on it,” says Healy, now a colour commentator with Hockey Night in Canada. “Dressing yourself up like some kind of rock star . . . you got KISS on your helmet? Give me a break. Just play the game.”

Sometimes it’s a matter of preference, but the article reveals that this particular fashion choice came with some pretty painful disadvantages. Grignon explains that while modern headgear is shaped to make pucks deflect off the head and face, Osgood and Healy’s preferred style absorbs the full impact of a shot. Healy admitted that he dealt with more than a hundred stitches because of that choice, while Dan Cloutier – one of its last proponents – said that Los Angeles Kings management asked him to change his mask for “insurance reasons.” (Cloutier’s career ended soon after anyway, but his problems weren’t related to his choice of headgear.)

Beyond “The Helmet” being a preference that produces extra pain, the nearly-obsolete model follows the path of other things that go out of circulation: replacement parts are hard to find. That created a “constant quest” for Healy and other users, who were forced to “scrounge” for parts at beer leagues and other atypical outlets.

Osgood apparently had a little better luck as he received masks and spare parts for various benefactors, with the Red Wings’ play-by-play guy Mickey Redmond even asking fans to help out. That being said, Osgood’s equipment situation was still a bit unusual.

And when the team masseuse remembered he had two HM30s in his garage back home in Moscow, Boyer promptly had them shipped.

“Yeah,” saids Boyer. “Ozzie finished his career with a helmet from the Red Army.”

While Craig MacTavish is known for being the last NHLer brazen enough to play without a helmet, Osgood might be the final high-level practitioner of “The Helmet.” It’s a bit sad to see something that unique go away, but considering the safety risks involved with wearing that type of mask, it might be better off as a relic of the past.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Are Helm, Eaves and Miller the Red Wings’ closest thing to a new ‘Grind Line’?

Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves

It’s probably not accurate to say that Kris Draper decided to “pass the torch” by retiring from the NHL. Such a notion downplays the Detroit Red Wings’ deft methods of “reloading” instead of rebuilding while simultaneously competing for the Stanley Cup year after year.

That being said, Detroit’s trio of retirements (Draper, Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood) do shine a spotlight on the team’s younger players – especially when you consider the crushing inevitability of Nicklas Lidstrom’s eventual last game. Naturally, the Red Wings will probably have some tricks up their sleeves* because: a) they always do and b) Lidstrom’s departure should give them a nice chunk of salary cap space, so that worry might not be quite as severe as it may seem.

Still, there’s little doubt that Detroit will need its depth players to come through here and there, much like Draper did in his prime. Maybe it’s too much to ask for a second coming of “The Grind Line” considering the defensive game’s shifting priorities from grit to speed, but it’s fairly easy to see the four forwards who will live to keep the puck out of Detroit’s net more than anything else next season.

Detroit’s candidates for a new “Grind Line”

For all the hype about Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg’s two-way play – and don’t get me wrong, much of it is justified – they weren’t the Red Wings forwards who did most of the heavy lifting last season. Here are the Red Wings’ top four penalty killing forwards in 2010-11, according to NHL.com’s stats. I also included their sometimes-laughable PP averages to show off how single-minded their approaches must have been.

1. Darren Helm (3:03 shorthanded minutes per game; 4 seconds per game on the PP)
2. Patrick Eaves (2:41 PK per game; averaged :13 on PP)
3. Drew Miller (2:13 PK per game; averaged :04 on PP)
4. Justin Abdelkader (1:42 PK per game; averaged :09 on PP)

The only Red Wings forwards who averaged somewhat significant PK time beyond those four were Daniel Cleary (1:10 per game) and – you guessed it – Draper (:51 per game).

Which three of the four will comprise the shutdown line on most nights?

Those numbers reinforce my original point that the Red Wings more or less moved on already, but the transition will truly be complete next season. It’s likely that this quartet of forwards will work together on the penalty kill for much of 2011-12, but let’s take a look at which three are most likely to be the team’s consistent grind line.

To do so, I consulted Dobber Hockey’s “line combo” stats. Let’s take a look at the four players’ most common even strength linemates from 2010-11.

  • It seems like Abdelkader moved around a lot – his most consistent linemates were Miller and Jan Mursak at 9.6 percent of the time – but his top two combos involved Miller.
  • Eaves spent more than 31 percent of his time with Draper and Helm and more than 26 percent of his time with Helm and Miller.
  • Helm‘s most common combo came with Draper and Eaves at just under 24 percent of his even strength play. He also spent 20 percent of his time with Eaves and Miller.
  • Miller played with Eaves and Helm over 27 percent of his even strength time and almost 13 percent of his time with Draper and Helm.

Looking at those numbers and the fact that the Red Wings didn’t make too many changes during the off-season (that weren’t imposed upon them by retirement decisions), it looks like the team might go with Eaves-Helm-Miller much of the time. Of course, things can change thanks to the pre-season and the general forces of line changes.


Ultimately, the Red Wings’ grinders should be very familiar with their duties next season. That doesn’t mean that the probable Helm-Miller-Eaves combo is guaranteed to match “The Grind Line,” but the team already built a foundation for their days without Draper.

* Dare we goad Nashville Predators fans into depression by mentioning Ryan Suter’s pending unrestricted free agency?