DETROIT — Wings general manager Ken Holland ended his opening statement during Chris Osgood’s retirement announcement on Tuesday with, “Again, my congratulations to Chris on what I believe is a Hall of Fame career.”
Let the debate begin.
— First, an opening statement from the HOF hopeful.
“It would mean a lot to me,” Osgood said. “I personally think, because I know what I’ve had to do to get to where I’ve been at over the years, I feel like I deserve to be in.
“It’s never easy to play goalie for any team in the (NHL). It’s a tough position, no matter if your team is good or bad,” Osgood added. “You still have to make the saves and compete and deal with the pressures. You have to make the plays when they are needed most.
“During the playoffs I think I’ve done that,” Osgood continued. “That’s what is more important to me. Getting into the Hall of Fame means the world to me. If I said it didn’t, I’d be kidding myself and lying to you guys. Hopefully one day it happens.”
— Second, numbers that prove Osgood should be in the HOF, provided by Wings statistician Greg Innis.
1. There are 32 players currently enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame who played exclusively as a goaltender in the NHL or its fore-runners (PCHL or NHA). Only seven of those 32 (Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, Ed Belfour and Grant Fuhr) have won more games than Osgood.
2. Osgood currently has 50 regular-season shutouts to his credit. Only 15 of those HOF goalies have more.
3. Osgood had just one regular season in which he finished with a record below .500. That was 2009-10, when he posted a 7-9-4 record. Of those goalies in the HOF, only three can make that claim (Ken Dryden, Bill Durnan and Roy).
4. Osgood has been on three Stanley Cup winning teams. Twenty of the goalies in the HOF have been on less.
5. In the playoffs, Osgood has won 74 games. Only five HOF netminders have won more (Roy, Fuhr, Billy Smith, Dryden and Belfour).
6. Osgood has recorded 15 postseason shutouts. Only Roy (23) has more among goalies in the HOF.
7. Of the 10 netminders who reached the 400-win plateau, only Martin Brodeur did it quicker (720 games, compared to Osgood’s 742).
— Third, a long-time teammate makes a case for Osgood.
“In ‘98 when we won the Cup, a lot of people were questioning if he could be a No. 1 goalie to win a Cup and he proved everybody wrong,” Kris Draper said. “(2008) was special for everybody, the way he handled the situation. He told all of us, ‘I’m ready if I get the call.’ He went on an unbelievable tear, solidified what a clutch goaltender he was and how he could win a big game. It’s something he didn’t get enough credit for.
“Anyone who’s played with him believes he’s a Hall of Fame goaltender, no questions asked,” Draper added. “The way he should be remembered is as a clutch performer. He always made the big save when he had to make the big save. He’s a Hall of Fame goaltender. To put up 400 wins and be in the Top 10, he should be very proud.”
— Fourth, Holland’s second chance to impress the selection committee.
“He has the 10th most wins in the history of the National Hockey League,” Holland said. “You think about all the great goaltenders. When you’re in the Top 10 of anything that’s been around 90 to 100 years it’s pretty special.
“People will say that he played on good teams and use that has a reason why he isn’t,” Holland added. “My response would be, most of the guys ahead of him on the list also played on good teams and if it’s so easy everyone would be doing it. It’s not easy winning 400 games and two Stanley Cups (as a starter), I don’t know the list but I’m sure it’s not a long list. It’s difficult playing on a real good team. Some goaltenders are good with it and some struggle with it. He has survived dealing with all that pressure.
I love his ability to bounce back.”
During Osgood’s conference call, he said he didn’t start thinking about the HOF until after winning the Cup in 2008.
“I’m not sure if I’ve done enough, but I’ve given it my best shot,” Osgood said. “To me, I hope I get in there. I hope people think I deserve to be in there.”
Osgood’s candidacy will be a hot topic leading up to the first year he can get on the ballot, 2014, and will probably continue to be bantered about until he either is elected or the date passes when no one really cares.
Like I’ve said before, in my mind the debate ended that Monday night in Colorado when he won his 400th game.
So again, congrats Chris Osgood, enjoy your retirement and get that speech prepared for once you are elected to go into to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
You have definitely earned it.