In the next season or two, we will see debate heat up in earnest about the retirement of a Red Wings player who will likely find a place in the Hall of Fame. A player that has been with us for the better part of two decades. A player who has won multiple Stanley Cups, saved our necks a time or two, and been a major reason we have managed to remain contenders since the early 90's.
And no, I'm not talking about Nicklas Lidstrom.
No, I am referring to our goalie with the old school helmet, Chris Osgood.
The time is upon us when we must begin looking at life without The Blizzard of Ozz. Judging from recent comments on this site, many believe Osgood will retire this summer. In September, we very well may see the beginning of a new era that doesn't include Ozzy, our goalie for 14 of the last 16 seasons. It's a sad thought and I will give you a second to pull yourself together from reflection of the many good times we have all shared with him (and how he made a memorable impression on the face of Patrick Roy).
Now, as Ozzy slowly creeps into record books as far as the eye can see, debate has already sprung about his Hall of Fame merits. Many believe he is a lock because he is just the 10th goalie to <b>ever</b> reach 400 wins, something even The Dominator was unable to do. Others believe his wins are marred while playing behind the likes of Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, and Derek Meech. That debate, however, is neither here nor there.
As Wings fans, we need to look to the skies. Er... ceiling. The legendary rafters at The Joe. Only 6 jerseys are up there and there is only one sure-fire inclusion from the current batch of Wings, none other than Mr. Norris himself. Those rafters are more difficult to get into than the Hall of Fame itself. All time greats like Chelios, Shanahan, Murphy, Larionov, and Redmond will never see their jersey hang above Hockeytown. And yet, we need to discuss a player who isn't even a lock for the Hall.
Osgood has the stats. He is tenth all time in wins, possibly ninth if he can get two more this season with eigth being within his grasps if he plays one more year. He's played the 18th most games of any goalie, the 19th most minutes, and has faced the 16th most shots. In addition, he has three Stanley Cup rings in his posession. Two of them after saving the Wings from decimation (first from losing Vernon and second from Hasek's utter playoff failure in '08). If we had managed to beat the Penguins in Game 7, he likely would have earned himself a Conn Smythe as well.
The only player we can really compare the Ozzman to for this is Terry Sawchuck, the only other goalie to have their jersey retired by the Red Wings. Sawchuck is still considered one of the greatest netminders to ever lace up. You have Brodeur, Roy, Esposito, Hasek, Plante, Hall, and Sawchuck in that discussion. You will notice that Ozzy's name is not in that list and with good reason, he's not even close to being one of the best of all time. Sawchuck is a legend, Ozzy is not.
But that is where it might be necessary to stray from the usual jersey retirment path and look at the only thing, in my mind, that should matter: importance to the franchise. Three, almost four, rings. Part of five Western Conference champions. 400 wins. He's put himself in in front of 21,000 pucks. I don't know about you, but even with pads a puck can hurt.
In 2008, Wings fans felt they were doomed to yet another first round exit following Hasek's dismal first two games. Ozzy replaced him and we won the Stanley Cup. Ten years prior, a similar story. Mike Vernon, who had led the Wings to two straight Finals including a Conn Smythe the year prior, was traded away and we were left with a young and largely unproved goalie named Chris Osgood. In addition to Vernon, Osgood was also missing the aid of franchise defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov as well as a Slava Fetisov who was not the same after the accident. Osgood backstopped us to the last Stanley Cup repeat the NHL has seen that year.
Osgood has the merits and some of the stats, not to mention the importance. He has had great defense in front of him for most of his career and his career GAA of 2.49 and SV% of .905 are nothing to write home about, sure, but the Wizard of Oz has proven time and time again that he is a great goalie and, possibly, the most important goalie to ever wear the Winged Wheel.
So, kind readers, should the Wings raise his jersey to the rafters or let him be with pals Draper, Maltby, McCarty, Holmstrom, etc. who gave their careers (and jaw) to win with the Wings, but don't deserve to be remembered for eternity at every single Wings home game. Sound off in the comments.
As this is my first post, allow me a minute to introduce myself. I'm Josh, you all know me as Apocalyptic0n3. I'm 21 and have spent the majority of my life in northern Sterling Heights. I go to MCC and am currently studying graphic design. I've been a Wings fan since I was 4 when I got caught hiding behind a couch watching a game when I was supposed to be in bed, forbidden to watch a violent game like hockey. Favorite player of all time is Federov and I have a darling man-crush on Shea Weber, as I am sure you may have noticed.