“I just wanted to work hard,” Osgood said. “I had worked hard in the off-season to prepare myself for the season and better my game. I did come to the fact that I wanted to finish where I started. I wondered if I should sign a one-year or two-year deal after the season and take it from there.”
Osgood got his answer Wednesday when he and the Red Wings agreed on a three-year contract extension that will keep the veteran goalie in Hockeytown through the 2010-11 season.
Osgood, who leads the league with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage, is the third Wings’ player to receive a contract extension this season, joining defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
(two-years) and center Kris Draper (three-years).
“It’s a great commitment by Kenny Holland, showing his loyalty to guys that he’s won with,” Draper said. “Ozzie right now is playing the best hockey that I’ve ever seen him play. I think it’s great for the organization. Him and Dom and created a great 1 and 1A punch.”
Osgood is having a remarkable season, winning 19 games in 22 starts. He’s one of the main reasons why the Wings are off to the best first-half of the season starts in league history. Osgood stepped in when Dominik Hasek battled an early-season hip injury.
“He is so confident right now,” Draper said. “It doesn’t matter where we play, who we play, he believes that he can go in and win that hockey game. He’s playing unbelievable.
“He’s certainly matured from that quiet person when we broke into the league together. He loves to keep things loose in the locker room and laugh. But when the puck drops he’s going to play; he’s all business. His work ethic, and he certainly would be the first to tell you, that it’s as good as it’s ever been. I’m certainly excited for him and glad that he could ink the three-year deal.”
In November, Osgood started eight of the Red Wings’ 12 games, amassing a 6-1-1 record, that included a shootout win against Columbus on Nov. 24 where he stopped 36 of 40 shots and denied three-of-five Blue Jackets in the shootout for a 5-4 win.
He recorded his first shutout of the season against St. Louis on Nov. 21, stopping 12 shots in a 3-0 win. It was his 44th career shutout, which ranks fifth among active NHL netminders.
Although Osgood’s only regulation loss came against Chicago on Nov. 11, it was a brief blip in a streak that saw the Wings’ goalie earn at least a point in 20 straight games (15-0-5). It was the second longest point streak of his career. He holds the two best winning streaks (20 and 21 games) in the league since 1989-90.
“Obviously, the way Ozzie is playing, he’s more than deserving of it,” forward Kirk Maltby said. “He’s a great guy to have around the younger guys and he makes everyone kind of laugh. But knowing that he signed that deal, it’s definitely dinner in Ottawa.”
For Osgood, finishing his career he it began in 1993, was extremely important.
“You look at the guys who have played here in the past, legendary players,” Osgood said. “Guys who have won and we want to finish our careers here and obtain some goals, whether it be guys scoring goals or assists or games-played; for me wins and trying to see how close I can get to (Terry) Sawchuck and win some more Cups here.”
Osgood has 355 career wins, including 271 in 10-plus seasons with the Wings. He’s 81 wins away from catching Sawchuk, who holds the all-time franchise mark with 352 victories.
He was a member of the Wings’ championship teams in 1997 and ’98. But he believes more Stanley Cup titles are in reach.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Osgood said, “because now I give myself four more chances to win here, which I think are pretty good chances and the main reason for me coming back.”
This week can only get better for Osgood, who could be named to the Western Conference All-Star team as early as Thursday. If he’s named to the team, he will join Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg
, Pavel Datsyuk
and coach Mike Babcock in Atlanta on Jan. 27.
“That would rank right up there,” Osgood said. “Sign a contract and go to the All-Star Game, which would be pretty cool. I would love to go there. It would be a lot of fun for me, especially at this stage of my career.”
Did Osgood already have plans for the six-day break?
“I was going to go to Disneyland,” he said. “My wife and kids were going to fly out there. My dad will be out there for four days. So that’s going to be fun too. I’d love to do both, so I’m in a win-win situation. You’re living a childhood dream either way. Right?”