Media Puck-Up’s: Ozzy in the HOF?


Chris Osgood announced his retirement, and right away stories popped up asking whether or not he belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They were filled with stats that rank him high on various win lists (regular season, playoffs), how his save percentage compares to great goalies, and various other numbers. And if were based completely on numbers, then maybe he is deserving to be immortalized.

Of course his coach is going to be in his corner. This story from boasts all of the numbers and reasons in favor of Osgood.  However, I don’t think it’s fair to just look at the numbers. You have to look at how a player was regarded by the fans and the media and other factors. One of the best questions to ask is: “Was he feared?”

He spent almost his entire career in Detroit.  When teams geared up to play against the Red Wings, did they really have to game plan against Osgood? No, of course they didn’t.  He’s an above average goalie, but that’s it.  Teams didn’t have meetings about how to beat him. They didn’t study tapes looking for flaws. He is clearly a product of a great organization. He did the most with his opportunity, and he deserves credit for that. Butif he were truly a great goalie, then his club wouldn’t try to replace him so many times.

When the Wings beat the Flyers in the ’97 finals, Mike Vernon was in net.  He was traded, and Osgood took over the starting job. Of course, Detroit won the Cup again. You would think a relatively cheap goalie that backstopped you to a championship would be someone that earned a starting job for a long time. Instead, he lasted a few seasons and got waived when Detroit picked up Dominik Hasek. Great older goalies never replace great younger goalies. Can you imagine if the Rangers or Penguins somehow acquired Tim Thomas and relegated Henrik Lundqvist or Marc-Andre Fleury to the backup role? Salary cap issues aside, they wouldn’t do that because they believe in those players, and a marginal improvement won’t help the team.

So when an older goalie was brought in to start in net, that was the first sign that Osgood is not a great goalie. While he played for the Isles, he still didn’t secure a starting job and got traded to St. Louis.  He was unremarkable as their starting goalie, and was let go once his contract ran out. When he came back to Detroit, he suffered through some injuries, but ultimately won the starting job as they won another Stanley Cup. And still, that wasn’t enough as the Red Wings brought in goalie after goalie. Ty Conklin, Joey MacDonald, and Jimmy Howard are all guys that were brought in as the Wings searched for a steady netminder. They kept coming back to Osgood because he was solid, and yet they kept trying to replace him. Long story short, they  liked him, but not enough.

Chris Osgood was a good goalie, but nothing more.  Opposing fans didn’t dream of acquiring him, and GM’s didn’t scramble to acquire him when he was available. Simply put, the Hall of Fame is for great players that stand out, and despite some very good numbers, Osgood just doesn’t make the cut.

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