Chris Osgood’s amazing season was rewarded Wednesday with a new contract. The question is, will it be recognized Thursday when the NHL announces the Western Conference all-star game reserves?
“I have plans to go to Disneyland with my kids, but I’m good either way,” Osgood told The Canadian Press on Wednesday after signing a US$4.25-million, three-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings.
“It would be pretty cool to go to the all-star game at this point in my career, I would look forward to it,” added Osgood. “So the way I look at it, I have a chance to be a kid either way that weekend – go play hockey or go to Disneyland. It’s an easy choice either way.”
The 35-year-old native of Peace River, Alta., leads all NHL goalies with a 1.68 goals-against average and is tied for the lead with a .932 save percentage while sporting a 19-2-1 record.
There’s no questioning how valuable he’s been this season.
“Certainly he deserves to be in the all-star game,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told The Canadian Press. “I guess the only reason he wouldn’t play is because we’ve got too many other participants. …
“But he’s been unbelievable for us.”
All this while sharing the net with veteran star Dominik Hasek.
“That’s been one of our real strengths, the 1-2 punch in goal,” said Holland. “Chris has been a major reason why we have the record we have this year. I think he’s playing the best hockey of his career.”
Osgood’s new deal will pay him $1.7 million next season, $1.45 million in 2009-10 and $1.1 million in 2010-11. He was earning $800,000 this season and was slated for unrestricted free agency July 1.
He could have got more on the open market given his league-leading numbers, but there was never any question of trying to leave.
“My kids are from here, I love being here, I love the state,” said Osgood. “I’m a pretty simple guy and I don’t need much. I enjoy the guys on the team and I wanted a chance to win the Cup again. I wanted to finish where I started playing. I have a lot of memories here and I just wanted to finish up here.
“It would have been tough for me to go somewhere else and finish up. It would have not have felt right for me.”
Since returning to the Wings for a second tour of duty after the lockout, Osgood is 50-11-12 in two and a half seasons.
“I would have never expected that when I came back,” said Osgood, who played the first eight years of his career in Detroit before stops in Long Island and St. Louis. “When I came back, everybody was saying the team wouldn’t be that good. Manny Legace and I were the goalies and people didn’t think we would do much that first year back. We just keep winning games. …
“And yes, I do play on a good team, but I do think I contribute to that. Every now and then I think I have something to do with that and I feel pretty good about it.”
Hasek, who turns 43 later this month, will almost surely be in goal when the playoffs begin. And that’s OK with Osgood.
There’s no goalie controversy on this team.
“Dom and I have always got along right from the onset,” said Osgood. “We do push each other and I think that’s a good thing. It does help that we’re both at the stage of the career that we’re both at, it makes things easier. We’re both pretty competitive but at the same time we want to see each other do well. We want the team to win.
“It was perfect timing for us to get together and play together at this stage in our careers.”
Said Holland: “He’s accepted that he’s a No. 2 guy and that as good as he plays, while he’d love to play in the playoffs, if Dom’s there, he’ll be rooting for Dom. I think he’s at a stage in his life where he’s just happy.”
In the meantime, Osgood’s new deal will help him try and reach some important milestones. His 355 career wins leave him 45 shy of 400 – a plateau only nine other goalies have reached in the history of the NHL.
His 271 wins as a Red Wing sit second in club history behind only the great Terry Sawchuk (352).
“Those were also reasons I wanted a three-year deal,” said Osgood. “Hopefully in the last year of this deal I’ll have a chance to get near Sawchuk if not pass him. I’ll have to get real hot in order to catch him but at least this gives me an opportunity to try and do it.”