The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/24/11 at 04:52 AM ET
Updated 2x with more Osgood interviews at 10:45 AM: I guess that if there’s one thing you can say for certain about Chris Osgood, he won more often than his competence was questioned, which is pretty good given that people questioned whether he was good enough to do the job from the moment he was called up from Adirondack way back in 1994. Now that he’s retired, the questions of the week involve Osgood’s lasting legacy and whether 401 wins and 3 Stanley Cups are Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy numbers for a goalie who was very, very good but never really considered among the greats of his generation.
Some very positive and incredibly negative arguments for and against Osgood’s candidacy have rolled in over the past three or four days, and two ever-present Sunday columnists weigh in this morning with varying degrees of subtlety. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggests that the arguments against Osgood’s candidacy aren’t personal…
Why is it every time a player retires, a Hall of Fame discussion takes place? Chris Osgood had a fine career in the NHL, but it’s not criticism to claim he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. It’s just an opinion of where he stands in hockey history: I’ll begin considering Osgood for the Hall once Rogie Vachon, Dominik Hasek, Lorne Chabot, Tom Barrasso, Mike Vernon and Mike Richter get in
While the New York Post’s Larry Brooks goes off and, well, delivers a rant which has a very political bent—suggesting that there are two specific HHOF omissions who are far, far more deserving than Osgood (and that the HHOF’s selection committee’s a fatally flawed enterprise as long as its decision-making process remains cloistered and off-the-record)...
So with Brooks being Brooks, Osgood is merely a plot device:
Chris Osgood was a good goaltender who had a very good career playing for a great franchise in Detroit, but this notion that he is a Hall of Famer is about as absurd as it gets. Seriously. Did anyone ever actually watch Osgood, who announced his retirement last week, and think, “Yep, there’s one of the best ever at his position?” Then again, given the hidden agendas of the hopelessly compromised 18-person Hall of Fame selection committee that disgraced itself yet again this year by keeping its institutional snubs of Fred Shero and Pat Burns in place, there’s no telling the standards for admission.
Osgood was a compiler who completed his 17-year career with 401 victories, 10th all-time. He was in nets for two Stanley Cup championships, pretty much along for the ride in 1998 while being a difference-maker in 2008. He made the second all-star team in 1995-96, his third year in the league before going the rest of his career without an all-star selection and without winning a single individual award.
This isn’t meant to denigrate Osgood, who created a niche with the Red Wings. Pretty much any goaltender in the world would sign up for his career. But he retires 30th all-time in goalie point-shares, a couple of laps behind people such as John Vanbiesbrouck (10th), Rogie Vachon (12th), Sean Burke (13th) and Tom Barrasso (18th). And before you ask, no, I can’t determine the exact formula used to determine the “point-shares” number, but when Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Terry Sawchuk, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante rank as the top six in the category, I give it a fair amount of credence.
Indeed, I give it a whole lot more credence to it than any decisions rendered by the Hall of Fame selection committee that operates behind closed doors and without a shred of accountability or a collective conscience. No Shero? No Burns? For shame.
If it wasn’t so damn important to Osgood, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness duly noted in his pro-Osgood column on Saturday night…
“It would mean a lot to me,” Osgood said. “I personally think, because I know what I’ve had to do to get to where I’ve been at over the years, I feel like I deserve to be in.
“It’s never easy to play goalie for any team in the (NHL). It’s a tough position, no matter if your team is good or bad,” Osgood added. “You still have to make the saves and compete and deal with the pressures. You have to make the plays when they are needed most. During the playoffs I think I’ve done that,” Osgood continued. “That’s what is more important to me. Getting into the Hall of Fame means the world to me. If I said it didn’t, I’d be kidding myself and lying to you guys. Hopefully one day it happens.”
During Osgood’s conference call, he said he didn’t start thinking about the HOF until after winning the Cup in 2008.
“I’m not sure if I’ve done enough, but I’ve given it my best shot,” Osgood said. “To me, I hope I get in there. I hope people think I deserve to be in there.”
Osgood’s candidacy will be a hot topic leading up to the first year he can get on the ballot, 2014, and will probably continue to be bantered about until he either is elected or the date passes when no one really cares.
I wouldn’t really care, either. He won three Stanley Cups, he won 400+ games, he won in the playoffs, he won when nobody believed in him, and he very rarely gave up that game-tying or game-losing goal when the stakes were high…
And in addition to the fact that the Wings think that he’s important enough to mentor the next generation of Red Wings goalies, teaching them the ropes and coping skills necessary to take on one of the hardest jobs in Detroit sports…
He mended fences with the man who replaced him, the verifiable space cadet (and certain Hall-of-Famer) named Dominik Hasek, and learned from Dom before succeeding him along the Wings’ 2008 Cup run. That’s downright miraculous.
Or perhaps we could talk about Osgood’s Hall-of-Fame-worthiness in one hundred words or less, via the Free Press’s Steve Schrader, first via his “Stevies”:
The “Bye-bye, Ozzie” award: To Chris Osgood, who announced his retirement the same week we also said good-bye to Borders, the space shuttle and “Entourage.” Now the debate is whether Ozzie belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The answer is yes, and the reason is simple. Duh, winning.
And then via his News Quiz:
Does Chris Osgood belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
A) Does Brandon Inge belong in Toledo?
B) Does Mickey Redmond like a little bingo bango?
C) Could switching to Geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance?
Otherwise, we’re stuck with a disparate slate of Wings-related stuff, mostly from the Free Press and starting with George Sipple’s conversation with one Mike Commodore, who’s a horse-racing fan in a very serious way during his summertime training in California. Here’s how he “got hooked”:
“I got traded from Carolina to Ottawa and got swept out of the first round,” Commodore said. “I went back to Carolina and packed my stuff. I was a free agent and didn’t know where to go. A buddy of mine called me and asked me if I wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby. He’d been to a couple horse races when he was younger and decided he might as well hang out with some friends and see what all the fuss was about at Churchill Downs. I had a blast.”
Commodore witnessed Big Brown win the race by nearly 5 lengths and talked to some people about investing in a horse.
“A few months later an opportunity came up with the Valkyrie Missile,” Commodore said.
His interest in the sport continued to grow, and at one point he was invested in six horses.
“I have three horses [at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club],” Commodore said. “It’s totally just for fun. It gives me something to watch.”
Shifting focus back to Schrader for a moment, he offers this take on Justin Abdelkader’s playful banter about flying over his alma mater’s least favorite university...
The “Look, Up in the Sky” award To Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader—a former Michigan State star—who kidded about bombing the Big House when he flew over Ann Arbor with the Blue Angels. And that’s why Michigan is glad Spartans just have swords and shields and stuff, and not an air force.
According to the Freep, at least 3,000 sports fans believe that Nicklas Lidstrom, Justin Verlander and Pavel Datsyuk (in descending order) are the three most talented professional athletes in town…
And statistics can be tweaked to prove just about anything, but I can’t disagree with the bottom lines from Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien’s analyses of NHL teams’ power play and penalty-killing units for the 2010-2011 season based on “plus-minus” metrics—the Wings’ PP was pretty dang good but the team’s penalty-killing wasn’t.
If you’ll indulge me, the rest of this entry has nothing to do with the Wings, but I still find the following tidbits and comments intriguing, starting with a few more toss-offs from Simmons...
If you listen to the rhetoric of the NBA lockout, it sounds word-for-word like the rhetoric when the NHL lost a season to a lockout. And six years later, how’s that worked out for most NHL teams? ... One thing nobody says: The much-criticized deal the later disgraced Ted Saskin signed on behalf of the NHL players has worked out swimmingly for most of them
Yeah, but Saskin also all but co-wrote the owner-friendly aspects of the CBA with Bill Daly once Bob Goodenow was removed from day-to-day negotiations…
You have to assume that Evgeny Nabokov is not the sharpest knife in the goaltender drawer. What he should have done was listen to his agents and report to the New York Islanders at trade deadline time and finish the final two months of the season with a team he didn’t want to play for. Now, in order to return to the NHL, Nabokov has to play for the Islanders and clear waivers before he can be moved again
From what I understand, now that July 1st has passed, neither Nabokov, Jaromir Jagr or anyone else who played pro games in European leagues after the 2010-2011 season began aren’t subject to waivers anymore…
As for Brooks’ usual amount of blather...
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr is conducting 14 meetings this summer, seven in North America and seven in Europe, in an aggressive effort to educate and prepare the union for the upcoming labor negotiations.
This just in. Slap Shots has learned that Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors have voted in the House of Representatives for Cut, Cap and Balance.
The NHL apparently will test more shallow goal cages at the annual Research and Development camp next month in an attempt to create more offense behind the net and more wrap-around tries, but is that a worthy objective?
Seems that more wrap-around tries and more crowding the net only will increase the amount of contact with goaltenders, an increasing problem. Seriously, when did it become a legal play to knock down the goaltender in an attempt to score a goal and why does the league tolerate it, much less encourage it?
That’s kind of the point, and as far as I know, Eric Lindros scored almost half his goals by shoveling the puck into a goalie and then shoving the goalie over the goal line…
And the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont found that the now-retired Mark Recchi wants to help the NHLPA out as the players hope to avert labor Armageddon (which the owners wouldn’t mind as NFL and NBA fans are beginning to assume that lockouts are kind of normal, and we live in a world where unionized workers are expected to “give back” as a rule)...
Recchi has plenty to occupy his time
By Kevin Paul Dupont
July 24, 2011
Text size – +
A partial review of Mark Recchi’s summer to-do list:
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■Return to Kamloops, British Columbia, for vacation and a day touring the town with the Stanley Cup.
■Begin workouts in a couple of weeks or, hey, whenever. No rush, really.
■Get back home to Pittsburgh for another day or two with the Cup (seniority has its privileges).
■Golf, golf, and, OK, a little more golf. Young Cameron Recchi is turning into a pretty good player.
■Look for a starting position in a new career with an NHL club.
Item No. 5 makes official what the 43-year-old Recchi said in the months leading up to the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup last month. It’s a wrap, folks. The plucky right winger is leaving the player’s life behind and wants to begin work soon in a player personnel role with an NHL team.
“That’s what I’d really like to do,’’ said Recchi, just prior to heading to Kamloops, where he is part-owner of the Blazers in the Western Hockey League. “You see a lot of guys moving into that player development role now, working with kids, building relationships with the younger guys from the time they are drafted and so on . . . I think I’d really enjoy that.’’
Here in the Hub of Hockey, ex-defenseman Don Sweeney has cultivated that role as part of his duties in the Boston front office the last few years. In Pittsburgh, ex-Bruins forwards Tom Fitzgerald and the recently hired Bill Guerin have taken on similar tasks with the Penguins. Agent Rick Curran is now exploring the same kind of opportunities for Recchi, who in June won the Stanley Cup for a third time after entering the league with the Penguins in 1988-89.
So, the final line on Recchi, playoffs included: 638 goals, 1,042 assists, 1,680 points. All that remains is his open-net, blindfolded forehand sweep into the Hall of Fame upon the conclusion of the standard three-year cooling-down period.
“Let me tell you, I enjoyed all of it, right to the end,’’ said Recchi, asked if the day-to-day grind and physical wear and tear made finalizing his retirement decision easier. “I never got to that point where I thought, ‘Ah, this isn’t for me anymore.’ Even the summer workouts, I enjoyed all of that, too. But, hey, it’s been a great run, and now it’s just time - it’s the right time to do it. I mean, to win the Stanley Cup, that’s what I came back for, and there’s only been a few of us . . . you know, guys like Ray [Bourque] and Lanny [McDonald], who got to leave on those terms. So, yeah, I’m good with it.’’
But he’ll miss it. He will miss the training, the practicing, the playing, and the friendships on the ice and in the dressing room. In Boston, he’ll leave behind the alternate captain’s ‘A’ and his dogged presence around the net.
Recchi averaged right around 45 points in his two full seasons with the Bruins. Not prolific, especially for a guy who three times scored more than 100 points a season. But right to the end, Recchi remained one of the league’s top practitioners of finding every way possible to be around the cage for scoring opportunities. When he hooks on with a club in a player development role, you can bet tutoring forwards on positioning, leverage, and top-of-the-crease tenacity will be high on his priority list. Few better than Recchi in that nose-for-the-net department.
Meanwhile, the NHL Players Association remains ever in need of a few good men. If called, Recchi says he would listen.
“I want to see [the PA] strong again, and go in the right direction,’’ said Recchi, who was among those in the rank and file who were appalled over the scurrilous dismissal of Paul Kelly, the union’s executive director who fell victim two years ago to a coup within his office and among many dim-witted players. “If I got a call, sure, I’d entertain it, see if I could help out. It’s been interesting what’s gone on there the last couple of years . . . heck, the last seven years.’’
During Recchi’s playing time, he lived through one players’ strike (often forgotten in league lore), a pair of lockouts, the implementation of a salary cap, and enough PA leadership tomfoolery, miscues, and misdealings to leave him with the kind of institutional memory that would be invaluable.
For now, Recchi remains optimistic that there will be not be a third lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires in 14 months.
“Both sides would be crazy to get to that point,’’ he said. “I am convinced that there is a solution there; it’s just a matter of finding it. I think both sides have to keep in mind that it took a long time to recover from the last lockout. And now, unlike then, they’ve got a basis of an agreement that they can work from.’’
And perhaps Dupont ends this little ditty on the proper note:
Chris Osgood retired from the Red Wings last week, leaving behind a debate as to whether he is Hall of Fame worthy. He finished with 401 victories, 319 with the Winged Wheels. Only nine other goalies reached the 400-win plateau, which is where the pro-Osgood side can stake its strongest HOF claim. I’ll go with the Bernie Federko standard. Federko’s in there, so on career-for-career comparison, Ozzie gets the nod .
Also: I’m heading on vacation to Grand Marais, MI today, and I’ll be in and out from today until August 3rd. I hope to check in at least once a day to report Wings-related news, but the timing thereof will depend on whether the cabin I’m staying at is within range of the facility’s wireless internet connection. If not, It’ll be off to the “activity room” to putter around and hope that the determination of Kris Draper’s fate might be put off for another week.
Update: The Vernon Morning Star’s Kevin Mitchell spoke to Osgood and Ken Holland on Friday:
Decked in blue plaid shorts and a blue golf shirt over a white long sleeved shirt, Chris Osgood spent his first Friday of retirement golfing in Ken Holland’s 12th annual Derby at Predator Ridge Golf Resort. Ozzie looked relaxed as he whacked his opening drive about 280 yards playing in a foursome which included ex-NHLer and current Red Wing scout Jeff Finley. He wasn’t quite as stoked about his second tee shot and laughingly blamed his poor swing on his new-born son, Max.
Osgood, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with Detroit in 1997, 1998 and 2008, announced his retirement this week after 17 seasons. He played in 744 career games with the Red Wings, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. The pride of Medicine Hat finished his career fourth all-time among NHL goalies with 15 postseason shutouts, eighth with 74 playoff wins and 10th all-time with 401 regular-season wins.
“It was in the plans for quite a while,” said Osgood, waiting between holes. “Two weeks after the season I was mulling over it, wrestling back and forth a little bit. But, in the end I talked to Kenny four or five times, and I think it was the right decision. I’m at peace with it and I feel good about the decision I made.”
A father of three, at 38, Osgood will stay with the Wings and work alongside goalie coach Jimmy Bedard while also scouting young net detectives. Osgood, who played alongside Bryan McCabe and Rob Niedermayer with the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers, never had a goalie coach in junior, or for much of his NHL years.
“Kenny was my goalie coach, really, not on the ice, but mentoring me and telling me what I need to do and how to get there. He just gave me the tools I needed to try and make it. I never really had a goalie coach until ‘96, ‘97. I was self-taught, good or bad.”
And yes, Osgood and Holland touch upon the Hall of Fame debate…
Update #2: Osgood also confirmed to the Plymouth Observer’s Tim Smith that he’ll remain in Plymouth, MI during his retirement:
Osgood, 38, isn’t leaving the Red Wings (he will stay on as a goaltending consultant) or pulling up stakes from his residence in Plymouth — where he received the key to the city in 2008, following Detroit’s latest Stanley Cup.
“I wrestled with it for a lot of months,” Osgood said during a telephone interview Friday from western Canada. “And after the season, I just thought it was the right decision to make at the time. It was a culmination of health reasons and family reasons. I just felt like everything happened last year, good and bad, for a reason. I felt like it was the perfect time to call it a career.”
Chris, wife Jenna and their three young children will still call Plymouth home, too.
“I’ll be sticking around there for a long time,” Osgood said. “Still living there in the winters and coming back home to Canada (British Columbia) for about a month in the summer. It’s a family-oriented community. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up in Canada, kind of the same atmosphere. The people are always nice. It’s that laid-back, tight-knit community that I like so much about it.”
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.