DETROIT – After more than 400 wins and three Stanley Cups, Chris Osgood figures he has nothing left to prove.
The occasionally-maligned goaltender who eventually earned the admiration of Detroit’s passionate fans announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a career in which he helped the Red Wings to two championships as a starter and another as a backup. Although he was often overshadowed by his talented teammates, Osgood accomplished enough to start an interesting discussion about his Hall of Fame chances.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I feel like I do deserve to be there. It’s never easy playing goalie for any team in the National Hockey League.”
The 38-year-old Osgood will remain with the Red Wings, helping scout and develop young goalies. Osgood played only 11 games last season as a backup to Jimmy Howard, and he was sidelined after undergoing sports hernia surgery in January.
“I feel as if I can move on,” he said. “I’m excited about my future as to what I’m going to do with the organization.”
Osgood’s retirement leaves Detroit searching for a backup goalie. The Red Wings recently re-signed Joey MacDonald to be the team’s No. 3 goaltender, and general manager Ken Holland said they will likely add another goalie by the end of the week.
Osgood won his first Stanley Cup in 1997, his fourth season in the league, as a backup to Mike Vernon. The following season, he was the starter when the Red Wings won their second straight title.
Even then, credit was hard to come by for Osgood. He played behind a team of stars in Detroit, with players like Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom earning most of the attention. Osgood said he didn’t mind being under the radar.
“I never thought of it as being a burden,” he said. “I remember a night in Calgary, I had eight shots on net. … I knew how to do my job on a good team.”
Osgood’s Hall of Fame case is based on his 401 career wins—he’s 10th on the NHL’s career list—and his performance in the post-season. He went 74-49 in the playoffs with a 2.09 goals-against average. He ranks fourth in league history with 15 playoff shutouts.
“He’s been an incredible competitor with tremendous mental toughness,” Holland said. “If it was so easy everybody would be doing it. It’s not easy to win 400 games.”
Osgood played 14 seasons over two stints with the Red Wings. When Detroit acquired Dominik Hasek before the 2001-02 season, Osgood joined the New York Islanders, who then made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
“That was one of my favourite years of my career. It was different,” Osgood said. “We had a bunch of young guys who had never won before.”
Osgood spent three seasons with the Islanders and St. Louis Blues, then 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 game of another title in 2009.
Osgood won his 400th game last December, making 46 saves in a win at Colorado. He played only two more games after that.
He said he couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t get hurt again if he came back—but the decision to retire this off-season was still a difficult one.
“I wrestled with it every day,” he said. “It was consuming my mind. It really took its toll on my golf game.”