Osgood retires, stays with Wings as goalie consultant
While acknowledging how difficult a decision it was and how it weighed on him, three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Chris Osgood announced Tuesday on a conference call that he is retiring.
Osgood, 38, leaves the NHL with 401 career victories, including 317 as a Detroit Red Wing. Only Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk won more games with the Red Wings (352) than Osgood, who won the Stanley Cup twice as a starter (1998, 2008) and once as a backup (1997). He played 14 of his 17 seasons with the Red Wings, splitting three others between the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues.
Detroit General Manager Ken Holland announced on the same conference call that Osgood is staying with the organization as a goalie consultant and will help mentor the Wings' goaltending prospects, including 2008 first-round pick Thomas McCollum. Holland also said he will be signing another goalie to back up Jimmy Howard by the end of the week.
"I wrestled with it every day," Osgood said of the decision to retire, which he finally made Saturday night after sitting down with Holland in Vernon, B.C., where they both have summer lake houses. "It was on my mind and made it difficult for me to even operate some days because it was taking a toll. I thought it would be easier, but it's been very difficult for the last few months here deciding what I should do. Now I'm looking forward. I can move on and I'm excited about what I'm going to do with the organization."
Osgood reportedly told Holland in May that he was hoping to return for one more season, but the Wings were concerned about going into the 2011-12 season with a No. 2 goalie who was coming off season-ending sports hernia surgery in January.
"I could have told Kenny I was 100 percent ready to go," Osgood said. "I have been working out since I came back from surgery, but I couldn't guarantee I wouldn't get hurt again. Part of my decision is I didn't want to put them (the Red Wings) in a situation where come December I can't play anymore. That wouldn't look good for me or the team."
Osgood did admit that had he not picked up his 400th career win last season, he would be returning for an 18th NHL season.
"I wouldn't have (retired). I definitely wouldn't have," Osgood said. "I was going to play until I got it regardless and do whatever it takes to get to 400. That sounds selfish, but that would have been my decision."
Osgood called winning No. 400 in Denver on Dec. 27, 2010 one of the best memories of his career because he saw how hard his teammates were working to get him the win that night. Osgood said that memory made it easier for him to retire.
"It was a late arrival in Denver and we played the previous night (in Minnesota). The guys were exhausted and they played their hearts out," Osgood said of the 4-3 overtime win in which he stopped 46 shots, matching his career high. "I could tell how hard the guys were working and they would do anything for me. As a player it doesn't get any better than that. That game was one of the reasons I decided to retire. Beyond winning the Cup again, I can't do anything better than that game, playing with my teammates and feeling that connection and closeness in competition. It doesn't get any better than that."
Now that Osgood officially has retired, the debate over whether he's a Hall of Famer is raging.
"Any time you're in the top 10 of anything that's been around almost a hundred years (like the NHL), it's pretty special. ... I think Chris thrived in dealing with the pressure of playing on a good team, on a team with high expectations year in and year out." -- Red Wings' GM Ken Holland
Holland said he believes Osgood belongs in the Hall and Osgood also said he thinks he deserves to make it once he's eligible, in 2014.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also told NHL.com that Osgood should be a Hall of Famer simply because he hit the 400-win plateau and can call himself a champion.
"I think when you've won 400 games and you've won three Cups, you're in," Babcock said. "Heck, I think if you've won 400 games and you've won one Cup you're in. Winning the Cup is impossible."
Osgood's 401 career victories rank 10th all-time in the NHL, two behind Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr. He appeared in 744 games in 17 seasons and posted a .905 save percentage, 2.49 goals-against average and 50 shutouts. Osgood was better in the postseason, with a 74-49 record, .909 save percentage, 2.49 GAA and 15 shutouts in 129 games. He's fourth all-time in playoff shutouts.
"It means a lot to me," Osgood said of making the Hall of Fame. "Obviously I would be kidding myself to say it doesn't mean a lot to me, because it does. I know what I've had to do to get to where I've been and I feel I do deserve to be there. I think over the majority of time in the playoffs I did that. For me, it's more my playoff stats that are more important than anything else. It would mean the world to me to get into the Hall of Fame. Hopefully one day it happens."
Osgood won 16 games and posted a .918 save percentage to lead the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1998. A decade later, he replaced an ineffective Dominik Hasek early in the 2008 playoffs and won 14 games to lead Detroit to the 11th Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
Along with playing 565 games as a Red Wing, Osgood also suited up for 103 for the Islanders and another 76 for the Blues from 2001-04. He returned to Detroit in 2005 after the work stoppage, altered his style to become more of a butterfly goalie and flourished for several more seasons.
"Any time you're in the top 10 of anything that's been around almost a hundred years (like the NHL), it's pretty special," Holland said. "People would say that Chris played on a good team and use that as a reason why anybody could accomplish what he's accomplished, and my response is most of the guys that are on that list also played on good teams. If it was so easy, everybody would be doing it. It's not easy to win 400 games. He's won two Stanley Cups (as a starter). He has 50 regular-season shutouts. I think Chris thrived in dealing with the pressure of playing on a good team, on a team with high expectations year in and year out."