Chris Osgood Retires: Saying Goodbye to the "Wizard of Oz"
After a brilliant 17-year career, Chris Osgood has retired.
Osgood, 38, leaves his professional playing career as the 10th winningest goalie in NHL history. He ranks second among the Red Wings in wins with 317, trailing only the great Terry Sawchuk in that respective category.
Osgood was drafted by the Red Wings in 1991 and won three Stanley Cups during his illustrious career. He posted a goals-against average of less than 2.5, and had a lifetime save percentage of .905. He proved to be more clutch in the postseason, and his presence in net, though not very threatening, was even more impressive.
Osgood was the face of Red Wings goaltending throughout the 1990s, and he wore the traditional "big cage" mask his entire career. Besides his success in Detroit, the mask was his signature. His most impressive season was in 1995-1996 when he posted a record of 39-6-5. His goals-against average for the season was 2.17, the second lowest of any season during his career, to go along with five shutouts.
Prior to the 2001-2002 season, Osgood joined the New York Islanders and put up mixed numbers during his year-and-a-half stint with the team. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues during the 2002-2003 season, and played there for another year and a half. Shortly after, he returned to the city that made him a legend.
After spending the next few seasons alternating with Dominik Hasek as the starting goaltender in Detroit, Osgood continued to excel between the pipes, winning the Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008.
The following season offered Osgood some extra practice as he battled for the starting goaltending position with Ty Conklin and the youngster, Jimmy Howard. Osgood inevitably lost the starting role to Howard the next season, but remained content as a backup.
After Howard's continued success in Detroit, Osgood knew his time in the motor city was up. Howard was the future, and Osgood was the seasoned veteran. After a season-ending sports hernia surgery limited his playing time in the 2010-2011 season, Osgood knew it was time to hang up the skates.
Although Osgood has retired from playing professionally in the NHL, he will remain with the Red Wings organization as a scout for up-and-coming goaltenders.
Osgood was a quiet giant. Playing during the same era as goaltenders like Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek, Osgood was never one to receive the limelight. However, he made a name for himself in Detroit, and opposing teams knew how hard it was to score against "Ozzie."
The Red Wings teams of the 1990s featured players like Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Dino Ciccarelli and Brendan Shanahan. Despite the immense talent of those players, Osgood proved just how vital it was to have a successful goaltender. He helped the Red Wings to back-to-back Stanley Cups between 1996 and 1998.
No doubt Osgood put up Hall of Fame numbers, and only time will tell if he is admitted into the shrine of the other legendary NHL greats in the halls of Toronto.
His 401 victories, 50 shutouts, three Stanley Cups, and a goal scored against the Hartford Whalers in 1996 all prove to be Hall of Fame numbers. And as the last player to wear the player helmet/cage style goalie mask, Osgood was a true pioneer to the elite goaltenders of today. Goalies like him are few and far between.
Now it's time to see him get what he deserves: a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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