Some players have the fortune of spending most of their careers is a good situation. Chris Osgood is certainly an example of that. The 38-year-old goaltender decided to retire Tuesday after 17 seasons, most of which he spent with the Detroit Red Wings. Ozzie was quite popular in Detroit, and thanks to playing for the Red Wings he has three Stanley Cup rings and 401 career wins, tenth most in NHL history.
However, those numbers have very little to do with assessing Osgood as a player. He won those rings, two as a starter and one as a backup to Mike Vernon, thanks to playing on some great teams. He picked up those 401 wins for the same reason. He spent almost his entire career as a Red Wing. He spend a season as an Islander, a season in St. Louis, and a season split between the two. Aside from that, he suited up for most of his 744 regular season games played with the winged wheel on his chest.
The numbers that matter, on the other hand, show that Osgood generally just wasn’t all that good of a goalie. His career save percentage is .9051. That’s not bad, but it isn’t good either. Granted, his career playoffs save percentage is better at .916% over 129 games played. Ozzie was a pretty good goalie for a really long time, and there certainly is nothing wrong with that. He was a serviceable starter for many Detroit teams, and a strong, reliable backup on others.
However, unfortunately there is already Hall of Fame talk out there for Osgood. That is, frankly, ridiculous. As is the case with all the Hall of Fame voting blocs, a lot of the voters look at the wrong stats. People are looking at Osgood’s wins and Stanley Cup rings and acting like they reflect Osgood’s abilities and successes. They do not. They reflect how many good teams he played for, and the fact he played in the 18th most games in NHL history.
When discussing the most recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, I made the point that Ed Belfour did not deserve to be elected into the Hall. I pointed out that players such as Guy Hebert have better career save percentages. Well, Belfour’s numbers are better than Osgood’s. I don’t want to turn Osgood’s retirement into a polemic against the absurdity of the notion of him as a Hall of Famer. I’m a Wings fan and I have been watching Osgood play since his rookie season. I’d like to congratulate him on his long NHL career. If Detroit wanted to retire his number I wouldn’t object to it. However, I don’t want to sit idly by while hockey writers are discussing Osgood as a potential Hall of Famer and tossing things like wins and Cup rings out there.
Will Osgood end up in the Hall of Fame? His chances are pretty good. Even with years upon years of advanced stats being prevalent in baseball, and with guys like Keith Law and Rob Neyer now BBWAA members, there are still plenty of voters out there who pay attention to the wrong statistics and refuse to change. The hockey stats revolution is far behind baseball’s, even when it comes to something as simple as using save percentage, which has been around for years, over wins. As such, we may be seeing Osgood in the Hall of Fame some day. It won’t be his fault, but it will be unfortunate. However, that’s a concern for several years from now. Currently, I’d like to focus on congratulating Chris Osgood on his long NHL career. The Great Oz has spoken at Joe Louis for the last time.