Osgood was all smiles on the opening day of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament here at Center ICE Arena on Saturday, helping mentor young goalies Petr Mrazek, Evan Mosher and Ramis Sadikov. Those prospects will rotate playing time throughout the five-day tournament.
Coach Osgood said he's looking forward to the new challenge.
"I'm excited to begin my new job working with the young guys … I've worked with Howie (Jimmy Howard), but that was in a different capacity since I was still playing," Osgood told NHL.com. "I've always enjoyed teaching the young guys and that's how I was brought up in the organization with guys like Mike Vernon, Tim Cheveldae, Ken Wregget and Dominik Hasek. A lot of guys taught me and mentored me, so that was the same thing I did with Howie and I enjoyed it."
Osgood played only 11 games last season as a backup to Howard and was sidelined after undergoing sports hernia surgery in January. He played 14 seasons in two stints with the Red Wings -- when Detroit acquired Hasek before the 2001-02 season, Osgood joined the New York Islanders, who then qualified for the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
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Osgood spent three seasons with the Islanders and St. Louis Blues, but returned to Detroit following the 2004-05 lockout. He played another six seasons with the Red Wings, helping them win the 2008 Stanley Cup and come within a win of another championship in 2009. Osgood won his first Cup in 1997, his fourth season in the League, as a backup to Vernon. The following season, he was the starter when the Red Wings won their second straight title.
Red Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard feels the organization is already reaping the benefits of having Osgood as an assistant.
"His experience and easy-going personality are the things that set him apart," Bedard told NHL.com. "Still, he might have looked liked the quiet paper boy, but he's a competitive guy. He expects a lot out of these young guys and wants to give each of them a chance to be the best they can be. He was always one of the most liked guys in the dressing room, and he'll carry that over with his hockey knowledge and experience and it'll be a great fit."
Osgood appears to have a good grasp on how he needs to approach a career in coaching.
"Working in practice and doing the right things off the ice, saying the right things to the media, acting like a pro hockey player and doing what's expected of you," he said. "As a youngster, you go into it blindly at 20 years old and don't know what's going on. After learning from players who gave me the knowledge and the ammunition, I feel like it's something I've wanted to do as well."
Howard, who signed an extension in late February, will enter the 2011-12 campaign as the team's starter. He's won 37 games in back-to-back seasons and despite struggling at times during the regular season in 2010-11, he had a phenomenal playoff run, going 7-4 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
"Jimmy played so much that I think he wore out a bit," Osgood said. "He played 63 games and it's hard to play that many in the League now with the intensity of the games and travel. I thought against San Jose in the playoffs, he was our best player. Every year he's improved mentally and physically, and I thought when our backs were against the wall in the playoffs, he was our best player. That showed me a lot about the goalie he is and the goalie he's going to be."
After Howard, the Red Wings have backup Ty Conklin and goalies-in-waiting Joey MacDonald and Thomas McCollum.
McCollum made his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues on March 30, 2011, replacing starter MacDonald midway through the second period and his team trailing, 5-2. He'd yield three goals on eight shots and was ultimately pulled at the end of the second in a 10-3 loss.
Osgood still remembers telling McCollum to just forget the outing and move on. The first-round draft choice (No. 30) in 2008 did make 23 appearances for the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL last season, going 11-9-2 with a 2.76 GAA and .909 save percentage.
"Tom is one of the guys I'll be working with all year … Thomas has tons of talent and he's really talented and he has a lot of potential, but he just has to go out and play and have some fun to clear his mind," Osgood said. "I've told him the last two years are over and that doesn't matter. He needs to start fresh when he gets up here for main camp. He has all the talent in the world and he's a good kid and when he's put in the right direction, he'll be fine."
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