The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/20/11 at 07:33 AM ET
The Red Wings have all but telegraphed every move they’ve made over the past year or so minus signing Ian White and Mike Commodore, and just as it’s been obvious for over two weeks that the team would sign Ty Conklin to back up Jimmy Howard later today, as much as those of us who believe that Chris Osgood is a Red Wings Hall-of-Famer regardless of his status in pundits’ eyes kinda knew, from the moment that sports hernia specialist William Meyers opened up Chris Osgood’s groin and went, “Whoa, there’s some serious damage in here!”...
Osgood’s days as a Red Wing—perhaps like those of Kris Draper, who’ll either have to agree to do what is unthinkable to him now and fight for a job during training camp if he wishes to continue playing—were numbered. When Osgood couldn’t return to the Wings’ net after four months of attempts to recover from sports hernia surgery that ended up repairing and reattaching ligaments that had been shorn off bone, Osgood agreed that he could not guarantee that his groin would be anything less than a liability in waiting, and he retired on Tuesday to become what Chris Chelios already is to the team’s prospect defensemen and what Draper will probably be to the team’s forwards-in-waiting—a mentor to the team’s goaltending prospects.
As pundits went into overload discussing Osgood’s legacy, Osgood himself delivered the best assessment of his career via a nearly hour-long press conference, which you can listen to here…
And Osgood also spoke to The Fan 590’s Jeff Blair and Damien Cox about his career in retrospect, albeit very briefly by Osgood standards:
As far as the Hockey Hall of Fame debate goes, again, I just don’t care right now. It’s a debate for another day and while I’m going to post several columnists’ takes on Osgood’s candidacy, I mean this as delicately and politely as possible in suggesting that it’s the kind of crap that fuels discussion in the middle of July but really takes away from the fact that a very special goalie and person to Red Wings fans made an incredibly difficult decision in choosing to say goodbye to the game because he could no longer tell Ken Holland that he would not be a liability to the team he loved so much, as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen noted:
“I wrestled with it every day,” Osgood said of the decision to retire, which he finally made Saturday night after sitting down with Holland in Vernon, B.C., where they both have summer lake houses. “It was on my mind and made it difficult for me to even operate some days because it was taking a toll. I thought it would be easier, but it’s been very difficult for the last few months here deciding what I should do. Now I’m looking forward. I can move on and I’m excited about what I’m going to do with the organization.”
“I could have told Kenny I was 100 percent ready to go,” Osgood said. “I have been working out since I came back from surgery, but I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt again. Part of my decision is I didn’t want to put them (the Red Wings) in a situation where come December I can’t play anymore. That wouldn’t look good for me or the team.”
Osgood did admit that had he not picked up his 400th career win last season, he would be returning for an 18th NHL season.
“I wouldn’t have (retired). I definitely wouldn’t have,” Osgood said. “I was going to play until I got it regardless and do whatever it takes to get to 400. That sounds selfish, but that would have been my decision.”
Osgood called winning No. 400 in Denver on Dec. 27, 2010 one of the best memories of his career because he saw how hard his teammates were working to get him the win that night. Osgood said that memory made it easier for him to retire.
“It was a late arrival in Denver and we played the previous night (in Minnesota). The guys were exhausted and they played their hearts out,” Osgood said of the 4-3 overtime win in which he stopped 46 shots, matching his career high. “I could tell how hard the guys were working and they would do anything for me. As a player it doesn’t get any better than that. That game was one of the reasons I decided to retire. Beyond winning the Cup again, I can’t do anything better than that game, playing with my teammates and feeling that connection and closeness in competition. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
From here I’m going to go on a source-by-source basis in terms of recounting both Monday and today’s stories about Osgood’s retirement. It takes away from a good narrative flow and will make this entry a bit blocky and choppy, but there’s just so much out there—and that’s as appropriate as it would be to honor Osgood against the Colorado Avalanche sometime this upcoming season—that I think it’s better to produce an entry that’s a bit inclusive and as beautifully ugly in terms of its style as Osgood’s Cooper SK 2000 helmet and HM 30 cage.
Let’s start with the out-of-towners: The Sporting News’s Craig Custance duly noted that Osgood struggled to play golf on the trip to Scotland and Ireland which his 400th win earned him because he was wrestling with his decision…
“It was consuming my mind,” Osgood said. “It really took a toll on my golf game.”
Now, there’s plenty of time for golf. After a stellar career highlighted by 401 regular-season victories, the Osgood, 38, decided to retire. After playing a season shortened by injuries, he didn’t want to risk putting the organization through another season of uncertainty in goal behind starter Jimmy Howard.
“I think it’s the best decision I could have made for both the organization and myself,” Osgood said.
He retires with three Stanley Cup championships, including two in which he was the starting goalie. He nearly won a fourth Stanley Cup with the Wings, who lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals. That spring, he was in contention for the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.
Chris Osgood retires with 401 wins and three Stanley Cups. (AP Photo)
Only nine NHL goalies have more regular-season victories than Osgood. His 74 career playoff wins are good for No. 8 all-time, three behind No. 7 Mike Vernon—a former Wings teammate.
It all adds up to a Hall of Fame career, Holland said.
“Chris thrived in dealing with the pressure of playing on a good team,” Holland said. “It’s not easy winning 400 games … if it were so easy everybody would be doing it.”
As Custance notes, Osgood’s legacy might involve the fact that he could bounce back from difficult defeats and the occasional bad goal, one in his 400th win against the Avs included, to win, win and win some more. For Osgood, the fact that his teammates worked so damn hard playing their third game in fourth nights, despite giving up over forty shots, to deliver win #400 summarized the way things may have never came easily, but came because he and his teammates battled through:
“They were playing like we were in a Game 7,” Osgood said. “It made me realize I’ve had a special career.”
Those who know Osgood, those who have been around him on a day-to-day basis, look beyond the mediocre career save percentage and goals-against average. They point out a player who has had the mental toughness to bounce back from some incredible lows—like allowing a Jamie Langenbrunner goal from center ice in losing Game 5 of the 1998 Western Conference finals—to accomplish some incredible highs.
“Game 6 (against Dallas) he had a shutout and we win the series,” Holland said.
There is a valid case to be made against Osgood as a Hall of Famer. He was rarely, if ever, a top four or five goalie. He was never the most dominant player at his position during an entire season. But recent inductions into the Hall suggest that isn’t the criteria to get in.
“It means the world to me to get into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Hopefully one day it happens.”
The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle believes that Osgood isn’t a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon isn’t sure, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski doesn’t like the idea of Osgood becoming a Hall-of-Famer (nor did a certain underling who spent all day on Twitter acting like the Wings stalker that he is, whining all the way), but believes he’ll make the cut, Sports Illustrated’s Stu Hackel argues that it’s Osgood’s Grant Fuhr-like ability to stop the game-tying goal from going in that matters, the Sports Network’s Dan DiScullo isn’t a fan of it but believes Osgood will make the Hall’s less-than-wonderful standards (a la Clark Gillies or Dino Ciccarelli), the Score’s Scott Lewis duly notes that Osgood’s got the, “He was a good goalie on some great teams” argument going against him and the AP’s Noah Trister notes Holland’s argument for his “fifth child”...
Osgood won his first Stanley Cup in 1997, his fourth season in the league, as a backup to Mike Vernon. The following season, he was the starter when the Red Wings won their second straight title. Even then, credit was hard to come by for Osgood. He played behind a team of stars in Detroit, with players like Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom earning most of the attention. Osgood said he didn’t mind being under the radar.
“I never thought of it as being a burden,” he said. “I remember a night in Calgary, I had eight shots on net. ... I knew how to do my job on a good team.”
Osgood’s Hall of Fame case is based on his 401 career wins—he’s 10th on the NHL’s career list—and his performance in the post-season. He went 74-49 in the playoffs with a 2.09 goals-against average. He ranks fourth in league history with 15 playoff shutouts.
“He’s been an incredible competitor with tremendous mental toughness,” Holland said. “If it was so easy everybody would be doing it. It’s not easy to win 400 games.”
It was also really cool to hear Osgood say that he treasured his time away from Detroit, which he argued was something that needed to happen, too…
Osgood played 14 seasons over two stints with the Red Wings. When Detroit acquired Dominik Hasek before the 2001-02 season, Osgood joined the New York Islanders, who then made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
“That was one of my favourite years of my career. It was different,” Osgood said. “We had a bunch of young guys who had never won before.”
And USA Today’s Mike Brehm takes note of the resiliency argument:
“You can either remember that Ozzie let in a goal from center ice in overtime to lose Game 5 (of the 1998 Western Conference finals),” Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a conference call. “I remember that in Game 6, he had a shutout and won the series. Do you know how mentally tough you have to be to bounce back from an overtime goal from center ice?”
A third-round pick of the Red Wings, he led that team to Stanley Cup titles in 1998 and 2008. He also led Detroit to Game 7 of the 2009 Final and was a backup when the Red Wings won the 1997 Cup. Osgood said he had to be mentally tough from the start of the 1997-98 season because the Red Wings had traded Mike Vernon, the playoff MVP, to the San Jose Sharks during the offseason. He led Detroit to the third-best record in the Western Conference but gave up bad goals against the St. Louis Blues in the first round and against the Dallas Stars in the conference final.
“It was like I was knocked down to the mat and I’d have to pick myself back up,” he said. “It seemed like it kept happening over and over and I’d have to keep telling myself, ‘You have to keep fighting. Never give up.’ That was my mentality. I wouldn’t give up until I win this thing.”
Osgood promised himself he wouldn’t give up another goal against the Stars, shut them out and then swept the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final. Those Red Wings are the last NHL team to win back-to-back titles. Holland says that mental toughness, along with placing in the top 10 in all-time wins, make Osgood a Hall of Fame candidate. The goalie would like that honor, too.
Despite the credentials, Osgood could be hurt by the fact he was playing for a consistently top-notch team. Holland has heard that and doesn’t buy into it.
“At times in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, there was this perception that we won because of our skaters and we lost because of our goaltenders, and it’s absolutely not true,” he said. “You can’t win consistently in the National Hockey League without having top goaltending every night. You need to make that key save with the game on the line.”
Again, as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector noted, Osgood embraces the concept that he was a “good goaltender on some great teams,” but he also pointed out that it’s not easy to play goal for a team that doesn’t give up a shot for 30 minutes and then gives up quality scoring chances and forgets how to play defense for the next 20…
“I never thought of it as being a burden, or something I had to work through,” he said of the perception. “I remember a night in Calgary, I had eight shots on net. Most of the people on (his retirement conference call) probably could have played that game. I always knew I played on a good team, but I had to make the big saves at the right time. If I had to sum up my career in Detroit, I was the right guy at the right time. You just had to play.”
He played, all right. He played and played, and retires ranked second in this Original Six club’s record books to the iconic Terry Sawchuk, as Holland says, “in virtually every category.” But so few ever gave this Peace River-born, St. Albert, Alberta-raised 38-year-old the credit his numbers would command. Of the 10 men with 400 wins, none have ever seen the end of their career ignite a debate on whether they are a Hall of Famer the way Osgood’s has.
For him, 399 wins was simply fuel for the doubters. And after losing two straight starts, not to mention his starting job to Jimmy Howard, win No. 400 that night in Denver meant everything to Osgood - and his teammates knew it.
“We’d flown a long way, and it was our third game in four nights,” he said. “I knew how tired they (his teammates) were, and they were playing like it was a playoff game. We were leading by two, and I was watching guys who were dead tired, back-checking for me. I’ll never forget that.”
Ask Osgood for a personal highlight in his career, and he goes right back to that night in Denver. He always told himself that he was important to the Nick Lidstroms, the Pavel Datsyuks, the Steve Yzermans, as they were to him. But that night, knowing there wouldn’t be many more chances for Ozzy to get No. 400, they showed it.
“As I was playing that game, it was an emotional time,” he said. “As I look back, it’s one of the reasons I decided to retire. For me, other than winning the Cup again, I can’t do any better. Playing with my teammates, feeling the closeness, feeling that competition in that setting… It can’t get any better than that.”
So while we can talk all we want about Osgood’s statistics—NHL.com’s John Kreiser tossed off quite the slate of Osgood-related “numbers”—he won at the right times for both us Wings fans and his teammates, as well as himself—Osgood made sure to thank both Holland for his support, every goalie who mentored him, from Tim Cheveldae to Mike Vernon and even Dominik Hasek, and people like you and me, as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen noted:
“People always say this city is tough on goalies, but I’ve walked on the streets and lived in all areas of Michigan and the people are great with coming up to me with words of encouragement and putting signs in front of my house when we were going to the playoffs,” Osgood said. “If I could stand up and cheer for them I would. They made my career what it is.”
Osgood was drafted by the Red Wings with the No. 54 pick in 1991, when he was playing major junior hockey in Medicine Hat, Alta. Holland was the Red Wings’ chief scout living in Medicine Hat and he got to know Osgood because they played on the same summer ball hockey team.
“I told him, ‘Don’t say anything, but we got you tucked away and we want to select you in the second or third round,’ ” Holland said.
The two have formed a strong friendship over the years, so much so that Holland, who has four children, said Osgood has felt like his fifth child. Osgood said Holland has been like his second father.
“We never made much of a big deal out of this because we always had to keep it as professional as possible, but he was always there for me, to give me encouragement when I needed it,” Osgood said. “He always said the right things. Aside from my family, he’s the most instrumental in making me have the career that I did. Even when I went to Long Island, he was still supporting me. When people doubted me, he was always in my corner.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock chimed in as well…
“Just a phenomenal career,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com. “He and his wife should be proud. I mean, 400-plus wins, three Cups and more importantly than that a great husband, father and unbelievable teammate. A real competitor and a lifetime Red Wing. Good for him and we’re proud of him. We look forward to him joining our organization as a coach.”
And in the, “Hall of Fame debate” category, ESPN’s Scott Burnside wraps up the out-of-towners’ takes by suggesting the following:
Osgood wasn’t the prototypical “out on the edge and maybe beyond” netminder whom Ed Belfour or Terry Sawchuk represent. Belfour, who won a Stanley Cup in Dallas and is a member of the Hall’s 2011 class, won 83 more regular-season games and had 26 more shutouts but turned in an almost identical GAA and save percentage compared to Osgood. In our books, Belfour is a bona fide Hall of Famer. But if Belfour, why not Osgood? The Red Wings netminder makes no bones about the fact that he thinks he deserves to be there. Good for him. When you win 401 regular-season games and own three Cup rings, the time for false humility is long past.
“It means a lot to me,” Osgood said of the prospect of being elected into the Hall. “I know what I’ve had to do. I do think I do deserve to be there.”
In discussions with members of the selection committee, this theoretical question has always been asked: Has a certain player ever been considered the best in the game or best at his position for a period of time? It is the argument used to suggest that players like Pavel Bure or Eric Lindros deserve to be enshrined. From our perspective, it is an argument used to prop up a player who otherwise has serious shortcomings. In the case of Bure and Lindros, both were briefly dynamic, top-of-the-world players who were never able to deliver the ultimate in team success. Neither, in our books, is a Hall of Famer. It was the same argument we used a year ago when Dino Ciccarelli was inducted—impressive numbers but, for us, not a Hall of Famer.
But Osgood, in perhaps the most understated of ways, has managed to collect Hall of Fame-worthy numbers while establishing perhaps the most important quality of any honoree—he was a winner. In that sense, he has a place in our Hall of Fame any day.
Now it’s time to check out the “Hometown Press’s” takes on Osgood’s retirement.
The Red Wings themselves posted a press release regarding Osgood’s retirement;
97.1 The Ticket: WXYT’s Jeff Riger not only offered the radio personality’s take on the Hall of Fame debate, but also offered this wise observation:
Every sports fan wants to view their favorite athlete as one of them, a guy that played for the love of the game first and foremost and while that might sound cliché and maybe even a bit out of touch I think Osgood is that guy. I will never forget interviewing Ozzie last year in the playoffs when all the commotion was being made about the fan that was fined for throwing the Octopi on the ice. Osgood was the only Wing that not only answered all the questions that I asked him, but he also sided with the fans and ripped the league. Other athletes might have known that those same comments could get them in trouble but Osgood didn’t care.
So we will have to wait and see if Osgood will make it into the Hall of fame for his hockey ability. But it seems like Detroit has already welcomed him as one of their own for everything else.
Nobody was more willing to question the league’s…let’s say micromanagement of its referees…than Osgood.
WXYZ: WXYZ’s, I’m guessing either Don Shane or Tom Leyden, wrote a superb narrative “recap” of Osgood’s career;
Windsor Star: The Windsor Star’s Jim Parker noted that Osgood struggled mightily with the decision to retire:
“Part of me knows I can still play, but my body says no,” Osgood said. “My mind says no, my body says no, but my heart says yes.”
Limited to 11 games last season because of a sports hernia, Osgood did not want to return and potentially leave the team short.
“I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt again and didn’t want to put (the organization) in that position again,” Osgood said.
“I just think it was the right time,” Osgood said. “When I told Kenny, I was at peace and relaxed, but it was a struggle. It’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
He won’t be completely walking away from the game. He’ll remain in the Red Wings’ organization in a yet to be named capacity working with goaltending prospects in the system as well as some amateur scouting with draft eligible players the club has interest in.
“I think it’s a real void in our organization,” Holland said.
Fox Sports Detroit: Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner both posted an article confirming Osgood’s retirement and noted that Osgood’s sense of team-first loyalty didn’t extend to, um, let’s just say a certain player who didn’t appreciate it when players strayed from what Osgood, Draper and others have established as the “Red Wings way,” eschewing personal statistical glory for collective accomplishments:
The fall after the Wings won the Cup in 1998, we were at training camp in Traverse City and Ozzie was extremely agitated. Something was bugging him underneath. You could sense that he was seething, but he wouldn’t say what was eating him alive. A few days in to camp, we’re at dinner and one of the Wings top players walks into the restaurant. Ozzie gets up and walks out. I follow him to the dumpster, where he’s cursing this teammate. Ozzie looks over at me and says, “We won the Stanley Cup. We, the Detroit Red Wings, won the Cup. Each one of us in that room made a contribution. We won because we are a team.
“So what happens right after we win?”
I reply, “I don’t know. What?”
“He (teammate) goes on TV and says that he played hurt during the playoffs, that’s why his numbers were not very good,” Osgood says. “What a self-centered jerk.”
For the next 30 minutes, Ozzie railed on this teammate, saying over and over that instead of pointing out that he played injured, he should have lauded the players who stepped up.
“That’s what a teammate does,” Osgood says. “What a phony.”
I have a pretty good idea who he’s talking about, but that player posted some pretty darn good numbers in the playoffs if you take a gander at the team’s 97-98 stats on Hockeydb.com.
After writing a superb summary of Osgood’s career, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji noted that Osgood was equally blunt about his belief that he needed to leave the Red Wings in 2001 and play for the New York Islanders to understand how special it was to play for the Red Wings:
“It was time for me to go someplace else,” Osgood said. “It was tough, like the decision for me to leave. But playing for the Islanders was one of my favorite years. We had a young team and we made the playoffs for the first time in about 10 years. Detroit, we were so used to winning, we didn’t appreciate the big wins. They appreciated every single win. It woke me up and I realized how fortunate I was to win as much as I did in Detroit. I wanted to come back, and my relationship with Ken enabled that to happen. I had to do the work, but I could never have envisioned what happened.”
What happened was Osgood replaced Dominik Hasek in net in the first round of the playoffs against Nashville in 2008 and eventually led the Wings to the Stanley Cup again. Now the debate begins as to whether Osgood merits a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. For Holland, there is no debate.
“The league has been around 90 years or so, and as he retires, Chris has the 10th most wins (401) in the history of the National Hockey League,” Holland said. “To be in the top-10 in anything that’s been around 90-100 years is pretty special. People say Chris played on good teams and use that as a reason why anybody could play and accomplish what he did. Most guys above him also played on good teams. If it was so easy, everyone would do it.”
Of course, Osgood would love to be in the Hall of Fame.
“It means a lot to me,” Osgood said. “Because of what I’ve had to do to, I think I do deserve it.
“For me, what I’ve done in the playoffs means the most. It means the world to me to be in the Hall of Fame. I hope I deserve to be in there. Hopefully, one day it happens.”
And John Keating argues that the ever-shirtless Osgood was and is “different” in terms of his very healthy ego—in a good way:
Osgood’s different than most because of his makeup. He’s 38 now and has held onto his boyish looks forever. We hate him for that. For his first decade in the league, he looked to be the antithesis of a professional athlete. Yet beneath the cherubic exterior was a lion’s heart, a motor that didn’t quit and a will to win, right out of “Rocky.”
A huge Tigers fan, he’s talked for years about becoming their bullpen catcher when he retired. There’s probably not a place for him at Comerica Park quite yet. After all, the Tigers, like the rest of us, didn’t see this coming.
But he’ll begin this process of helping younger goalies in the Red Wings chain and then start re-thinking his baseball career sometime next spring. And he’ll stick his chest out, almost assuredly bare, and say, “Why not me?”
It’s what we all should do more often. That mindset is why Chris Osgood will be in hockey’s Hall of Fame.
Detroit News: On Monday afternoon, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan posted a story about Osgood’s retirement and Terry Foster discussed Osgood’s Hall of Fame case, and this morning, five of five News columnists questioned about Osgood’s Hall of Fame candidacy suggest that he’s going to get in.
The News’s Bob Wojnowski appreciated Osgood’s candor in both his retirement presser and throughout his career as a perpetual underdog, becoming the first Red Wings-drafted, Red Wings-trained goalie who could beat the Red Wings’ goaltending curse…
From Peace River to Peace of Mind, it was a helluva journey. Once Osgood got No. 400 in an emotional overtime game at Colorado, he knew he could retire a content man. He admitted he’d probably keep playing if he was stuck at 399.
Family life with his wife, Jenna, and three kids now beckons. He’ll also work with the Red Wings’ young goaltenders, which basically continues the role he assumed with Howard.
Osgood isn’t likely to follow the career path he often whimsically talked about — becoming the Tigers bullpen catcher. He’s a fan of many sports and a solid Detroiter, and I always thought it made sense his quirky dream was to play a behind-the-scenes role for another team. Bullpen catcher, as you know, is the third-toughest job here, behind Lions quarterback and Red Wings goaltender.
That was the old line, rooted in truth. Tim Cheveldae was broken by the pressure, Vernon sneered at it, Manny Legace was smothered by it, Hasek outworked it and Joseph couldn’t ignore it. Osgood learned to live with it, and in some ways, learned to love it.
“I never thought of it as a burden,” he said. “I remember a night in Calgary, they got eight shots on net and most guys on this phone (teleconference) could’ve played that game. To sum up my career in Detroit, I’d say I was the perfect goalie for that team at the perfect time. You need a different mentality, you have to be unselfish. I knew how to do my job on a great team.”
And Jimmy Howard spoke to Kulfan about Osgood’s retirement and Osgood’s new role as a mentor for the team’s goaltending prospects:
“He said he was thinking about it (retirement),” Howard said. “We texted the other day. He said he had talked to Kenny (Holland, the Wings’ general manager). It’s an emotional thing. But the bottom line is, he had a heckuva career and now he has the opportunity to relax and spend time with his family.”
Howard took over for Osgood as the team’s starting goalie early in the 2009-10 season. There have been a few peaks and valleys since and the young goalie credits Osgood for helping him through the rough times, and keeping him level.
“Regroup, and come back the next day and start over,” Howard said about one piece of advice Osgood gave him. “He was always even-keel and would never get out of control. He’d always move on to the next game.”
One of the best memories Howard will have about playing with Osgood actually occurred this past season. Osgood’s 400th career victory Dec. 27 in Colorado, an overtime victory in which Osgood made 46 saves and arguably played his best game in several seasons, was one Howard was smiling about Tuesday afternoon.
“That was great, Ozzie just stood on his head that night,” Howard said. “Absolutely incredible. It was great to see him get that win, and then to play the way he did that night. And, of course, the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals (victory against Pittsburgh), how he stepped in during the playoffs and the way he played. The guy has had a great career.”
The fact Osgood is remaining in the organization, as an assistant goaltending coach to Jim Bedard, is a benefit, said Howard, for any young goalie in the organization.
“He has a lot to offer,” Howard said. “Jimmy [Bedard] can’t be everywhere all the time, so it’ll be good to have Ozzie available, too. He’s going to be a big help.”
Macomb Daily: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness duly noted that Osgood would not have retired if he hadn’t won that game he pushed himself to play in—despite the fact that his groin muscles were starting to give way—last December in Coloardo:
Had Chris Osgood been sitting on 399 career wins this offseason, there was a good chance his announcement Tuesday afternoon would have been a much different one. Osgood reached the 400-win milestone last season and therefore announced during a conference call yesterday that he was retiring.
“I definitely wouldn’t have (retired),” said Osgood, who spent 14 of his 17 seasons in the NHL with the Wings. “That was definitely something on my radar. I was going to play until I got it, regardless. I was going to do whatever it took to get to 400. I would probably be playing again had I not gotten there and that probably sounds selfish, but that would have been my decision probably,” Osgood added. “To be stuck on 399, I probably would have regretted it the rest of my life.”
And again, as Pleiness notes, Osgood came to terms with the concept of retiring…
“In the end, I think it was the right time for me,” Osgood added. “When I finally told Kenny, I was at peace with myself. I felt relaxed and I felt like it was the right thing. In the end my body and my mind was telling me no, but my heart was telling me yes. I’m 100-percent sure this was the right decision to make. No doubt about it.”
Health was another concern for Osgood. He was sidelined midway through last season and wound up needing sports hernia surgery on Jan. 11. He was unable to return after suffering a few setbacks in March. He last played on Jan. 4.
“I could have told Kenny I was 100-percent, ready to go, but I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt again,” Osgood said. “Part of my decision was I didn’t want to put the organization in a spot where it’s December and I can’t play anymore. I just don’t think that would have made me look good or been very good for the team.
“It’s impossible to script how you’re going to retire, we all can’t go out like Mark Recchi did with Boston, that is something we all wish and hope for, but so very few can,” Osgood added. “For me, I just felt it was the right time. I couldn’t end any better than how it did.”
And as far as Holland is concerned, Osgood’s status as a goalie mentor is sorely needed as the requirements of goalie coach Jim Bedard’s job mean that the team’s prospects don’t receive the mentorship the team’s defensemen receive from Chris Chelios, nor the on and off-ice support all prospects receive from Jiri Fischer:
“Jim Bedard has spent most of his time in Detroit with Jimmy Howard and has gotten down to Grand Rapids as often as he can, but he can’t be in two places at once,” Holland said. “We had a real need for someone to work with the young goaltenders in our organization.”
Osgood will also work with amateur scouting.
“There’s a number of goaltenders our scouts would like Chris to give an evaluation on,” Holland said. “He can help us find another young goaltender for our organization. There’s a real need for that.”
Detroit Free Press: The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a story confirming Osgood’s retirement on Monday, and this morning, the Free Press’s sports staff compares Osgood’s record to that of five Hall of Fame goalies, Steve Schrader offers both a set of ways in which Osgood will be remembered and a survey of the web’s takes on Osgood’s Hall of Fame candidacy, and Schrader notes that Osgood, ironically enough, might find himself on the ballot with Dominik Hasek, assuming that Hasek doesn’t mount his promised fifth or sixth comeback…
And St. James offers takes on Osgood’s legacy from his teammates...
“You look at him,” longtime friend and teammate Kris Draper said, “and you don’t realize the confidence he has. But if you know him, if you’ve played with him, you know that in big situations, he’s got composure.”
Todd Bertuzzi, who became a close friend shortly after first joining the team in 2007, called Osgood, “the kind of player who is the little train that could, even though a lot of people thought he couldn’t. But he’d come up big night in and night out and handle any stress. To me, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He exemplifies what a Hall of Fame guy should be, with 400 victories and three Stanley Cups.”
As well as insights into his struggle to come to grips with the concept of retiring…
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said. “Even my wife didn’t know. She finally just said, will you tell me what’s going on? And I couldn’t, really. I struggled. One day I felt I would come back, the next I didn’t. And that went on for a long time.”
Had he not reached 400 victories last season, Osgood would have played again. But he’d secured his legacy, and so an ailing body and sharp mind kept telling him no while his heart told him yes.
“I had a couple buddies tell me, you need to make this decision with your head, not your heart,” Osgood said. “I know I’ve made the right decision. I knew I had as soon as I decided. I feel like I’ve been real fortunate. Now is the perfect time for me to say good-bye to my playing days.”
And she noted that Osgood had evolved from a player who barely spoke a word as a rookie to the grand master of the Wings’ locker room and nickname-choosing brigade:
“Chris definitely has got that great sense of humor,” Kirk Maltby said. Maltby would know, having been a teammate since the mid-90s through his own retirement last season. To almost everyone in the locker room Maltby was “Malts,” but Osgood had a different moniker.
“He called me ‘Falcon,’ from ‘The Maltese Falcon’—you know, Malts, Maltese,” Maltby said. “I don’t think any of the younger guys had any idea what that was about. With Ozzie, you were never worried about picking up a hair dryer and turning it on to blow-dry your hair and finding baby powder blowing out. He was just the type that if he found out anything you’d done or something, he’d get a nickname out of it, usually having something to do with a 1980s TV series or actor.”
Osgood is a soft talker, with a voice that sometimes barely breaks a decibel. But it’s worth it to ask if he really just said something about nachos—as he did last September, when Osgood suggested Todd Bertuzzi would do well as the star of the movie, “Nacho Libre.” When Bertuzzi found out, he dressed as the character for the team’s Halloween party.
“He’s irreplaceable,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s a sad, sad day. I’m going to miss those times when things weren’t going well and we’d be having late-night talks in hotel rooms, going over life, family, hockey. I’d always come out of those talks laughing, and come out of my slumps at the same time.”
“Now he controls the dressing room,” Draper said. “He’s funny, witty, has great nicknames for everybody, and those are the kinds of guys you love to have as your teammate. He was one of the most popular guys in the dressing room because of the way he acts and the way he treats people.”
Draper got a call right after Osgood made his retirement official: “He talked for 10 minutes straight. You know when he starts going, you can’t interrupt him. He’s too much fun when he’s on a roll.”
And it’s the Free Press’s resident shift disturber, Michael Rosenberg, who debates Osgood’s Hall of Fame-worthiness:
Was Osgood a guy you can trust in the spring? Consider: Osgood’s playoff numbers: 2.09 goals-against average, .916 save percentage, 74-49 record, two Stanley Cups (and another as a backup).
And Martin Brodeur’s playoff numbers: 2.01 goals-against average, .919 save percentage, 99-82 record, three Stanley Cups.
Brodeur is, of course, as sure a Hall of Famer as there is. For a long time, I didn’t think Osgood was a Hall of Famer. But as I evaluate his career now, I’m coming around. He was consistently very good and I’d trust him in big games over some goalies with better regular-season numbers. For years, we didn’t know how good he was. As it turns out, he did.
“In ‘98, when we won the (Stanley) Cup, I knew I was tough enough,” to be an elite goalie, he said Tuesday. “And on Long Island (in 2002, his first year away from the Wings), I knew I was talented enough.”
The Oakland Press: Pat Caputo offers this take on Osgood’s legacy:
Of the nine goalies ahead of Osgood on the NHL’s list of career victories, eight have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The other, Curtis Joseph, never won the Stanley Cup, and his goals against average was much higher than that of Osgood. Osgood had a 74-49 career playoff record with a 2.09 goals against average. He stopped 92 percent of his shots in the playoffs. When his career appeared done, he arrived back in Detroit and rescued the Red Wings during the playoffs with an incredible 1.55 goals against average that included three shutouts.
Yet, there is this hesitation to give credit where credit is due. To many fans, Osgood’s accomplishments have been little more than the result of being part of the Red Wings during a period of their great success.
It’s inherently unfair, especially when Osgood’s career is examined in its entirety. The Red Wings were generally better when they had Chris Osgood than when they didn’t, or in the case of the last two seasons, when he was injured. After Terry Sawchuk, Osgood is unquestionably the greatest goalie in Red Wings’ history. As such, he not only belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but his uniform number, 30, should be retired by the Red Wings.
MLive: MLive’s Ansar Khan asked Osgood why he didn’t announce his retirement in Detroit, choosing to hold a conference call from his off-season home in Vernon, British Columbia instead…
“It (B.C.) is too far away from Detroit,’’ he said. “I could’ve went back (for a press conference), but I don’t think that would be my style.’‘
Holland, who was the organization’s chief amateur scout when he discovered Osgood in Medicine Hat, Alberta, called it “The end of an incredible career.’‘
“He’s been an incredible competitor with tremendous mental toughness,’’ Holland said. “In order to succeed in the NHL as a goalie with the good teams we had you need mental toughness. Chris has been a tremendous teammate, with tremendous leadership skills.’‘
And Khan’s main article about Osgood’s retirement summarizes things perfectly:
Holland frequently refers to Osgood as his “fifth child.” Osgood says Holland is “a second father” to him. “He was one of those guys that would give me a kick in the butt whenever I needed it,” Osgood said. “He was there to give me encouragement. He always said the right thing, did the right things. Aside from my family, he was the most instrumental in making me the player and allowing me to have the career that I did.”
Osgood also thanked the Ilitch family, saying, “Mr. Ilitch (team owner Mike) was always one of my biggest backers. Even when I struggled in the playoffs, he would always call me at home and give me encouragement.”
He thanked the only two head coaches he played for in Detroit, Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock. “They were coaches people thought I didn’t get along with, but that was the exact opposite,” Osgood said. “They were doing whatever they had to so I would play up to my capabilities.”
He played with three goalies in Detroit who had a profound effect on his career: Tim Cheveldae, Mike Vernon and Dominik Hasek. “(Vernon) taught me how to be mentally tough, how to shut things off and just play,” Osgood said. “(Hasek) taught me how to work in practice, how to relax and bring your game up to the next level.”
Osgood thanked his teammates, notably the ones who played on all or most of their recent Cup-winning teams, a list that includes Kris Draper.
“In ‘98 a lot of people were questioning if he could be a No. 1 goalie on a Cup-winning team and he proved everybody wrong,” Draper said. “In ’08 he went on an unbelievable tear, solidified what a clutch goaltender he was and how he could win a big game. It’s something he didn’t get enough credit for. Anyone who’s played with him believes he’s a hall-of-fame goaltender, no questions asked.”
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 67-image Osgood gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 63-image Osgood gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit looked at five key moments from Osgood’s career;
USA Today posted a 25-image gallery;
And the Red Wings’ website posted a 23-image Osgood gallery.
Audio: Both Justin Abdelkader (who is taking part in a MSU Alumni golf outing today in Muskegon, after he flies with the Blue Angels)...
And Ken Kal spoke to WBBL’s “Huge Show” about Osgood:
The Detroit News posted a clip of Osgood’s retirement presser, too.
And a video of Osgood’s goal against Hartford…
While the Wings’ website posted an Osgood photo gallery and Osgood’s in-rink profile…
And a tribute to his 400th win:
WXYZ also posted a long video in which Don Shane talks about Osgood’s legacy…
TSN posted a non-embeddable 2:50 video discussing Osgood’s retirement;
And, via RedWingsFeed, The Hockey News’s panel talks about Osgood’s Hall-of-Fame candidacy:
Also of Red Wings-related note, part 1: Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner, MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness all confirm that the Wings will sign Ty Conklin to back up Osgood today. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and Free Press’s Helene St. James weren’t quite ready to say that Conklin had been signed, but suggested that he was the “likely” target…
And I guess it merits mentioning, as the late-night-owls continue to weigh in, that it’s incredibly important to remind everyone that, should Conklin and Joey MacDonald falter in “replacing Osgood by committee,” or should Ian White, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl replace Brian Rafalski’s offense from the blueline, the Wings will have gigantic amounts of cap space—somewhere around five and a half million, per Capgeek.com, depending on Conklin’s salary—to find either a suitable replacement and/or players to bolster the team’s cause.
Also of Red Wings-related note, part 2: You know how that Alex Semin-to-the-Wings talk’s gained traction in the imaginations of fans, but not in reality land? NHL.com’s EJ Hradek spoke to Washington Capitals GM George McPhee, who put the kibosh on such suggestions:
“We like Semin because he can score goals,” McPhee said Monday, squashing the latest round of Semin trade tales. “Those guys aren’t easy to find.”
“We’ve made our moves,” he continued. “I don’t anticipate us making any other changes. If I go into the season with this group, I’m fine with that.”
• Mike Modano did a fantastic job of dancing around the topic of retirement while speaking to KHTK Sacramento’s Grant Napear while taking part in a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada;
• Also in the alumni department, the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio reports that former Wings announcer Dave Strader is leaving the Coyotes to take a position with NBC and Versus as a national announcer;
• If we are to believe what we read, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange suggests that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s ability to retain Steven Stamkos’s services proves that the “Red Wings way” has been imported to Tampa Bay;
• Sportsnet posted an equally…Unique…Photo gallery suggesting that Keith Tkachuk, Al MacInnis and Alexei Yashin could keep up with some of Osgood’s star-studded Wings teammates;
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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.