The biggest unsung hero is Chris Osgood. While he would win three Stanley Cups with the team he often found fans and even the team looking for someone else.
During the 1996-97 season, he was the leader in goal with 23 wins, 2.30 goals-against average and six shutouts.
Once the playoffs rolled around, Coach Scotty Bowman decided to go with the veteran Mike Vernon in net. The team would end up winning the championship that season.
The following year the job was all Osgood’s. He would lead the team to a second championship.
During his career, he happened to play at the same time as some of the greatest goalies ever: Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek. At times there would be flashier goalies for a season or two, but they did not have the staying power and consistency that Osgood had.
He is often criticized for playing behind great players. Other top goalies also played behind Hall of Fame players, but for some reason that is only held against Osgood.
He finished his career ranked 10 in all-time wins. His career goals-against average is better than many others in the top 10, including Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour and Roy.
He eventually would spend time with both the New York Islanders and St Louis Blues. It is no coincidence that both of those teams had their greatest success in years with Osgood in net.
He would return to the Red Wings and in 2008, took over in the playoffs and led the team to another championship.
While many wondered why the team did not go after bigger-name goalies, they fail to recognize that by having Osgood in goal, the team was able to amass so many other great players.
They did not have to chase the flash-in-the-pan goalie of the moment. They were able to rely on Osgood’s consistent greatness in net. This allowed them to stack other areas of the team.