Whenever an NHL fan thinks of the current day Detroit Red Wings, no doubt the first thoughts that come to mind are players like Steve Yzerman, Niklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Henrik Zetterberg, and Pavel Datsyuk.
Over the last 20 years, these players have been the poster boys of this organization. However, the one player who is noticeably absent from this list is their backstop Chris Osgood.
Though many fans might argue that the Red Wings had won hockey games during this time with their Hall of Fame talent rather than their goaltending, you cannot exclude Osgood from this list because this man was a big part Detroit's recent past.
For example, fans will best remember 1993-1994 playoffs, and Osgood for being in-between the pipes for Game Seven and the shocking opening round loss to the San Jose Sharks. During the 1998 Western Conference Finals, Osgood's name is forever etched in history for allowing a goal from centre ice against the Dallas Stars.
At best, his Red Wings career, can be categorized as being playing second fiddle to the likes of Tim Cheveldae, Bob Essensa, Mike Vernon, and Dominik Hasek.
Although pundits will not be able to compare him to the likes of Grant Fuhr and Martin Brodeur as a goalie who could not endure playing 60 or more games every season, yet, every year, Osgood quietly kept on playing solid hockey amidst the attention going to Datsyuk, Lidstrom, and Zetterberg.
Unless you are an NHL savant, you would be hard pressed to predict the number of wins Osgood has amassed since his rookie year in 1993-1994. For those who do not know, to date, he is only one shutout shy of having 50 for his career while maintaining a career goals against average of 2.47.
He is currently tied for 10th all time with 389 career wins. If you are wondering who he is tied with, you might be surprised to find out that Osgood's health permitting, Dominik Hasek will drop to No. 11 in all-time wins next year.
With the exception of the '06-'07 season where he posted 11 wins, Osgood has won at least 20 games or more every season. Not many goaltenders have consistently reached that level and keep their G.A.A. below 3.00.
Even for the three years, 2001 through 2003 that Osgood played with the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues, his game play never wavered as he recorded 53 wins, 42 losses, and 12 ties with those two wavering organizations. Furthermore, he took the Blues to two playoff appearances during his short tenure with the club.
However anyone views Osgood, the bottom line is that he has been a winner throughout his career.
Moreover, he has been a first-class teammate in the locker room where has earned the respect of his teammates—during last season’s Stanley Cup drive, when Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock decided to go with Hasek as his starter in the opening round against the Nashville Predators, Osgood did not gripe about the situation.
When the series was tied at two, it was Osgood who came to the rescue to save the Red Wings after Hasek’s poor Game three and four performances.
Detroit went on to win the series in six games and the rest was history as Osgood and the Red Wings went through the playoffs with relative ease to bring the organization their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 years.
In fact, Osgood became the only other starting goaltender to win a Stanley Cup ten years apart from his first championship, the other being Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk. Even Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur or Ed Belfour cannot lay claim to being able to accomplish this feat during their careers.
Osgood might never reach the mind-numbing career totals of Roy or Brodeur, but he is a three-time Stanley Cup winner. He is on the verge of a 400-win career and like Roy and Brodeur, he has been a model of consistency.
No matter how many critics Osgood has had during his career, he has persevered and dealt with adversity whether it was playing second banana to Bob Essensa or allowing a fluke goal against the Stars.
Plain and simple, based on his accomplishments, Chris Osgood will be in the Hall of Fame. So enjoy the last of the NHL's caged mask breed goaltender while he is still playing: 400-wins goalies don't come around too often.
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