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Osgood thrilled to be back

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
Few players enter this NHL season in a happier mood than Chris Osgood, who rejoined the Detroit Red Wings after four years away. For it was in Detroit that Osgood won his only Stanley Cup as a starter in 1998, and where he met his wife, Jenna.

So, Chris and Jenna are back in her hometown, Hockeytown, with their two daughters, in a bid to bring the Red Wings their fourth Stanley Cup in 10 years.

"I am excited," Osgood said. "When I left here four years ago, things had about run their course. But I felt like I would always come back. Things aligned perfectly this summer, so when I got an opportunity, I jumped at it. I feel very positive about this season. We have a lot of good things happening in Detroit this year."

Osgood feels Detroit has enough talent to succeed.

"With the new salary cap and the way things are around the League, no team will have every player they want," Osgood said. "The NHL is going to be very competitive this season. In the West, it's hard to determine who will make the playoffs and who won't. It looks very even from top to bottom. Things have a funny way of working out. All I know is our guys are really positive about what is going to happen to this team." Optimism is one of Osgood's strengths, along with an even-keeled personality. So, it's not surprising he's best friends with the red-headed eternal optimist, Kris Draper.

"I roomed with him for seven years," Osgood said. "Even before I got my offer, he talked to me about coming back here. The Red Wings got him for a dollar way back when. Kris is a hard worker who made himself a great player. He's the choice of a lot of people to be the captain after Steve Yzerman retires.

"Kris always has a positive attitude and it rubs off. Lose a playoff game and he has a positive way of looking at it. 'We're still all right. We'll win the next game,' he'll say. That attitude is part of the reason we've had success here. Being a goalie, I sometimes over-think things. Kris will just tell me to go out and play and it's the best advice I could get."

Osgood was 221-110-46 in Detroit, 38-25 in the playoffs, and is 305-177-66 with a 2.40 goals-against-average in 11 NHL seasons. The New York Islanders claimed him in the 2001 NHL Waiver Draft and he was traded in 2003 to St. Louis. Osgood was 31-25-8 with a 2.24 GAA, his lowest since 1998, during the 2003-04 season.

Osgood will compete for playing time with Manny Legace. That reprises the situation from 1998 to 2001. There will be plenty of competition between the two, Osgood said, but also plenty of cooperation.

"I don't know Mike, but in talking to Red Wings GM Ken Holland and some players, I've learned he lives and talks hockey 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He's an intense guy who gets the most out of his players. In the past, his teams have played a tight-checking game. I just know he demands guys work hard all the time. I talked to him briefly at the arena and I could tell he is passionate about hockey."

"I scored one in juniors so I thought I'd go for one in the NHL," Osgood said. "Glen Wesley shot it and I came out and got it. It was in the old building in Hartford. I had tried earlier in the year, but that time I carefully aimed and missed. This time, I just tried to keep it between the hash marks and it went in the center of the net. I lifted it over everyone and it came down just the other side of the red line. Funny thing, Geoff Sanderson went chasing after it, just like he tried to chase down my goal in juniors.

Interesting he should mention Sanderson. Osgood was born in the far northern part of Alberta, Peace River. Sanderson is from the Northwest Territories. Osgood was asked if Sanderson is the only NHL player born north of him.

"Well, I moved to an Edmonton suburb, St. Albert and Geoff moved to the Edmonton suburbs too. I didn't know him really well but my next-door neighbor, Tyler Wright, played with Geoff in Columbus".
Our main goal is to win the Stanley Cup, as a tandem," Osgood said. "We had really good years here and we're really good friends. We'll push each other in a good way. We want the other guy to do well, for the team's sake and his. I talked to Manny and he said he was glad I'm coming back. Whoever is doing better will play. That will take the controversy out of it."

Osgood also paired with Mike Vernon when the Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. That first year, he split the regular-season games, but found himself on the bench for most of the playoffs. Vernon wasn't signed for 1998, beginning the Osgood-Legace tandem. Osgood got the call in the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went 16-6 with a 2.12 goals-against average, including a sweep of the Washington Capitals in the Finals.

That was the highlight of my career," Osgood said. "I remember watching Mike the year before and thinking how easy it seemed when he swept the Flyers in the Finals. Once you try to do it yourself, you realize how difficult it is, what a grind it is. There's no such thing as an easy game in the playoffs. That's why I have so much respect for goalies like Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy who have done it so many times.

"But I've been knocked out in the first round that past three years and I can tell you it's no fun going home and watching the playoffs on television. I'm hungry. Watching other people play is terrible. I think back to 2003 when we (St. Louis) had Vancouver down three games to one and they won the last three. That year, Detroit and Colorado also lost in the first round and Dallas went out in the second round. I can't help but think of what might have happened if we had won one of those three games against Vancouver."

Well, the Western Conference winner that year was the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, coached by Mike Babcock, who will be behind the Red Wings' bench this season.
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