NHL.com periodically will be doing a series called "Five Questions With …," a Q&A with some of the key figures in the game today aimed at gaining insight into their lives and careers.
This edition features three-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Osgood:
"It's definitely different because I miss playing, but it has different rewards when you see guys do well," Osgood, the Red Wings' goaltending development coach, told NHL.com. "When they're playing it's rewarding, for sure. I enjoy it a lot more than last year. I enjoy watching my guys play and do well."
Osgood played 17 seasons in the NHL -- 14 of them with the Red Wings -- before retiring in the summer of 2011. He won the Stanley Cup three times and racked up 401 regular-season victories.
Today, you can find him in Grand Rapids or Toledo, working with the Red Wings' prospects in the American Hockey League and ECHL. However, you may just as easily find Osgood at Joe Louis Arena taking in a game, or on his couch watching every Red Wings game he can.
He's just as passionate about the team now then he was as a player, but he's also happy with his new career and not sure where it will take him.
He's surprised by the quick development of Jimmy Howard and intrigued by the renewed rivalry between the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, which will be on a national stage Wednesday when the NBC Sports Network carries the fourth of five meetings this season between Osgood's current employer and one of his former teams.
For more from the always opinionated Osgood, read on.
Do you like the role you have with the Red Wings as a goalie consultant, and has it been a difficult adjustment after playing for so long?
"Yeah, I like it. I think I was still half-playing and half-coaching last year because I missed it so much and probably acted like a player more than I should have. Now I think I have transferred over into just coaching, distanced myself from when I was a player. I still miss playing; it's not easy, especially because I played with a lot of the guys that still play. But this year it has been easier because now it's been a longer period of time that I haven't played, so I feel like I'm more of a coach now than a player, for sure."
Can you see yourself becoming a full-time traveling goalie coach for an NHL team?
"I'm not sure. Right now I'm just doing it year to year. I enjoy what I'm doing now. Jim Bedard is the guy in Detroit, and if it ever comes up that Jimmy retires, I would consider doing that, but I don't think I'd ever leave Detroit's organization to go somewhere else to become a goalie coach. I know the goalies here. I know the young guys. I have been in training camps with them. I know their personalities, so I have an advantage in that. I really, at this point in time, enjoy working with the young guys, and not so much the guys in the NHL because I played with a lot of those guys. I enjoy working with the guys in Grand Rapids, seeing them develop and getting on the ice with them."
Speaking of guys you played with, has Jimmy Howard's development gone as expected or do you think there is still more for him to give, another level for him to get to?
"No, he's on schedule. I think he's done everything they've asked him to do. The consistency he played with last year up until he got hurt was amazing. The level he was playing at for that length of time, very few guys have done that. That was a bit of a surprise to me. I know he's talented and I know he's a good athlete, but to be that good for that length of time, I was pleasantly surprised by it.
"I knew he could [be a No. 1 goalie], but I didn't know he could play at that high of a level for that long of a time and be that good. I knew he was good enough to be a No. 1, but the next year after I wasn't playing it happened right away. I was kind of surprised it happened that fast. The timeline surprised me, that he arrived that soon. For us, when he's playing, I feel we have an advantage over most teams on most nights with him in net."
Does he have to carry the Red Wings right now?
"On some nights he has to be the best player on the ice, for sure. It's definitely not like it used to be when we were quite a defensive team and we possessed the puck a lot. I've seen now other teams try to play like we did, they've kind of emulated us with a lot of teams trying to possess the puck. So, yeah, some nights Howie has to be the best guy on the ice and steal games maybe more than he used to have to. He's capable of doing it. Last year he was our best player up to the point when he got hurt. This year, on many nights he's been great and kept us in games when maybe it could have gotten worse.
"But one of the things I talk to people about is how they're always saying the Red Wings are going to miss the playoffs because they're not the team they used to be. I mean, they're comparing the team now and the team last year to the teams of the late '90s and 2000s, which is unfair. There were lots of Hall of Famers on those teams. If you can compare our team now to other teams in the division or even the conference, we're right there with everybody, and if anything not very far off. I don't think there is anybody that would say if the Red Wings make the playoffs they wouldn't have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. We still have a lot of good players and a great goalie."
Along those lines, one of the teams that have come up on the Red Wings is the St. Louis Blues. Has the rivalry between St. Louis and Detroit escalated now that the Blues are good again?
"I remember when I was young we would go into the old rink in St. Louis, and that's when it was a rivalry. St. Louis had [Brett] Hull, and [Curtis] Joseph was their goalie. They were end-to-end games, always 5-4, 6-5, 5-3 scores. The crowd was always into it and we were a rival. Then all of a sudden it just disappeared for a while. Even when I was there [in St. Louis], we were good but Detroit was always better and it didn't seem to have that extra oomph to it like Chicago-Detroit or Colorado-Detroit.
"But now St. Louis is a tough team; they're not only good but they're tough, they're physical. They've given us a challenge. Our guys rose to it last game after they beat us pretty bad in the first game. There's no question that they're trying to take away what we had for so long, and we're trying to keep it. That's a rival. Everybody says they're a Cup contender, but the Red Wings still believe they're a Cup contender when everybody is telling them they're not. It's a perfect match right now. Detroit is the team that has always been successful, never missed the playoffs. St. Louis is the team that is now supposed to win while Detroit is trying to prove to everybody it's not going anywhere. So it makes for a perfect storm every time they play each other."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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