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Chris Osgood, you say.
Ozzie may go down as one of the most under-appreciated players in all of sports. The team and fans always kept looking around the league and drooling over some other goalie. It was rough in that he played during the same time as Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek—three of the greatest goalies ever.
While he wasn’t as flashy or brash as any of them, he could hold his own.
He has a better win percentage then both Hasek and Roy, more wins than Hasek and a better career goals-against average than Roy.
The difference is that Osgood never made near the amount of money as these goalies did. Since 1997, he averaged $1.6 million while with the Red Wings. Among the other three goalies, Brodeur’s $4.9-million average is the next closest. This means that the team didn’t have to invest so much cash into one position.
Hasek won a cup with Detroit. The other two goalies were able to win cups as well, but their teams were not able to sustain anywhere near as long of a success streak as Detroit. The Red Wings were able to get solid goaltending for a much lower cost than other top teams. This meant that they could spend their money elsewhere and keep top-level talent.
Beyond his contract, he also was able to put the team first in several instances where other goalies would have made waves and possible hurt the team.
Despite success in his first two seasons, once the playoffs rolled around, coach Scotty Bowman decided to go with a more veteran player in net and Mike Vernon. Osgood could have complained, but he didn’t.
Again, when the team decided to bring in other goalies and even eventually let Osgood go, he did not attack the team. When he returned to Detroit and had to endure the Hasek saga, he again maintained his composure. He ended up rescuing the team in the 2008 playoffs when Hasek was not playing well. He helped the team win another Stanley Cup.
He ended his career as a mentor for current goalie Jimmy Howard. He not only helped with the physical elements of the game, but also with the mindset and other challenges that goalies face. Howard has learned the lesson well; he's off to one of the fastest starts that a Detroit goalie has ever had to begin their career.
His willingness to not only put the team first but to still maintain such a high level of play helped the team in the locker room by keeping a positive attitude.
It also helped on the ice, as they were able to focus on other areas of need, and his play allowed them to be one of the top defensive teams for many years.