Kukla's Korner Hockey
by lsefton on 08/03/11 at 11:34 PM ET
First, let me say I am really happy that there’s a 3 year waiting period for election to the Hockey Hall of Fame, since that gives everyone a better chance to cool down and reflect on a career, rather than operating on emotion.
That said, there’s still a lot of discussion going on, and some alleged pundits must have had “No Way Osgood Gets Into the Hockey Hall Of Fame” columns stored away on their disks, hands hovering over the “send” command, just waiting….
Me? I’ve been running the numbers, and working through the history on Chris Osgood.
First, let’s see what we’re grading on. Here’s what the Hockey Hall of Fame has to say about candidate attributes:
“Playing ability, sportsmanship, character and their contribution to the team or teams and to the game of hockey in general.”
Looks like it’s all covered: talent, work ethic, avoiding trouble, and how well do you play with others. Looks suspiciously like a performance review, doesn’t it?
I then looked at the NHL goalies who have been voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, specifically those who have played with modern equipment. That means at least basket masks, and a the new lighter pads and protected gear. That group includes: Billy Smith, Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy, and Ed Belfour.
Osgood is on the lighter side of games played, but not appreciably so. And he also showed the same pattern of being able to tighten up his goatending during the playoffs. Osgood compares favorably with his closest peer in the group, Belfour.
Smith and Fuhr are definitely from the “don’t worry—we’ll score more” era of the game.
And let’s take a look at two other peers who played around the same time Osgood did, Curtis Joseph and Dominik Hasek:
Unless it gets pretty weird, Hasek will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joseph is another name that gets punted around as “should he or shouldn’t he”, with more falling on the side of “close but not HHOF material”.The big hole in Joseph’s resume is a lack of a Stanley Cup, but his stats are just far off from the rest of his peers who have made the cut to show where the line is likely drawn.
Osgood’s numbers are much more in alignment with his peers. And when you look at some of the usual arguments, you find that Roy, and to a much closer extent, Belfour, had similar environments. Belfour left the Blackhawks just as they were sinking, and after a partial season with the Sharks, he arrived at Dallas just in time for a Stanley Cup. Roy arrived in Colorado when what the Avs needed was a goaltender who could lead them to the Cup. Osgood? He was traded to the Islanders and the Blues at a time when both teams were past their heights. Yet he managed to play his game, and come back to the Red Wings after their experiment in Goalie D’Jour.
What’s colored Osgood’s career is that first year playoff loss aganst the Sharks, which if you think about it doesn’t give the Sharks any credit for their hard work, a rookie’s reaction, and his coach pulling the rug out from under him in public. How many players would have come back from that, much less come back to have to prove themselves repeatedly? Prove themselves, and still rack up numbers that show him in the same class with other Hockey Hall of Fame goaltenders?
Interesting questions, but we’ll have to wait a few years to find out. But I get the feeling the vote is going to go in Osgood’s direction.
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