DETROIT – Had Chris Osgood been sitting on 399 career wins this offseason, there was a good chance his announcement Tuesday afternoon would have been a much different one.
Osgood reached the 400-win milestone last season and therefore announced during a conference call yesterday that he was retiring.
“I definitely wouldn’t have (retired),” said Osgood, who spent 14 of his 17 seasons in the NHL with the Wings. “That was definitely something on my radar. I was going to play until I got it, regardless. I was going to do whatever it took to get to 400.
“I would probably be playing again had I not gotten there and that probably sounds selfish, but that would have been my decision probably,” Osgood added. “To be stuck on 399, I probably would have regretted it the rest of my life.”
Osgood, 38, is the 10th winningest goalie in league history with 401 wins. He finished with a goals-against average of 2.49 and a .905 save percentage.
He also recorded 50 shutouts.
Osgood has won three Stanley Cups, two as a starter with the Wings (1998 and 2008).
He ranks eighth in the NHL in playoff wins with 74; posting a 2.09 goal-against average, a 916 save percentage and 15 shutouts.
“He’s been an incredible competitor and has tremendous mental toughness,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “To succeed in the National Hockey League, in goal, and especially on the teams he has played on, you need a lot of mental toughness.
“On the teams he’s played on there was a perception we won because of our skaters and we lost because of our goaltending,” Holland added. “That’s absolutely not true. You can’t win constantly in the National Hockey League without having top goaltending every night, someone there to make the key save every night.
“If he had a bad game or let in a bad goal, he had short term memory,” Holland continued. “He forgot about it and moved on. The present is what mattered. He’s been a tremendous teammate. He’s got tremendous leadership skills. The part of being a great goalie is your teammates really like you.”
Osgood and Holland met for three hours last on Saturday in Vernon, British Columbia, where both have offseason homes.
After the meeting, Osgood gave Holland his decision.
“I didn’t know on a day-to-day basis,” Osgood said. “One day I thought I’d come back and then the next day I didn’t. Going on that golf trip made it even harder. You start to think of the things you’re going to miss.”
Osgood had just gotten back from a golf trip to Scotland with his teammates that they gave to him after earning his 400th win.
“Part of me felt I could still play, but then my body was telling me no,” Osgood said. “Friends told me to make the decision with my head and not my heart because your heart is going to tell you to keep playing.
“In the end, I think it was the right time for me,” Osgood added. “When I finally told Kenny, I was at peace with myself. I felt relaxed and I felt like it was the right thing. In the end my body and my mind was telling me no, but my heart was telling me yes. I’m 100-percent sure this was the right decision to make. No doubt about it.”
Health was another concern for Osgood.
He was sidelined midway through last season and wound up needing sports hernia surgery on Jan. 11. He was unable to return after suffering a few setbacks in March.
He last played on Jan. 4.
“I could have told Kenny I was 100-percent, ready to go, but I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt again,” Osgood said. “Part of my decision was I didn’t want to put the organization in a spot where it’s December and I can’t play anymore. I just don’t think that would have made me look good or been very good for the team.
“It’s impossible to script how you’re going to retire, we all can’t go out like Mark Recchi did with Boston, that is something we all wish and hope for, but so very few can,” Osgood added. “For me, I just felt it was the right time. I couldn’t end any better than how it did.”
Osgood ranks second in franchise history with 317 wins, behind Terry Sawchuk (352).
Prior to the 2001-02 season, the Wings acquired Dominik Hasek, which made Osgood expendable. The Wings placed him on waivers and he was taken by the New York Islanders.
In his first season on Long Island, Osgood led the Islanders to the playoffs.
“It was time for me to go somewhere else,” Osgood said. “That’s just the way it was. It was a tough decision.
“It turned out to be one of my favorite years of my career (in New York),” Osgood added. “We had a young team, played real well and made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. In Detroit we were so used to winning we didn’t appreciate the big wins as much. They appreciated every single game they won on Long Island.”
The Islanders traded Osgood to the St. Louis Blues in the middle of his second season in New York where he played until the NHL lockout.
He signed with the Wings after the lockout for the 2005-06 season.
“I realized how fortunate I was playing in Detroit and wanted to come back,” Osgood said. “And fortunately because of my relationship with Kenny that allowed it to happen.”
Osgood will remain with the organization to develop young goaltenders, aiding goalie coach Jim Bedard.
“Jim Bedard has spent most of his time in Detroit with Jimmy Howard and has gotten down to Grand Rapids as often as he can, but he can’t be in two places at once,” Holland said. “We had a real need for someone to work with the young goaltenders in our organization.”
Osgood will also work with amateur scouting.
“There’s a number of goaltenders our scouts would like Chris to give an evaluation on,” Holland said. “He can help us find another young goaltender for our organization. There’s a real need for that.”