Despite being the target of many fans’ fury during his Detroit Red Wings’ career, Chris Osgood credited Wings’ fans with inspiring him to play to the best of his abilities.
The 38-year-old Osgood announced his retirement during a teleconference on Tuesday after a 17-season career that was spent mostly in Detroit (14 seasons) but also saw him play with the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues from 2001-02 to 2003-04.
“The fans, like (Wings’ GM) Ken Holland, were always there when I was down,” Osgood said during the teleconference.
Osgood has amassed 401 wins – 317 with the Red Wings, second in franchise history to only Terry Sawchuk – and won three Stanley Cups.
Osgood backstopped Detroit to the 1998 and 2008 Stanley Cups and was Mike Vernon’s backup when the Wings won the 1997 Cup. Osgood was also outstanding in the 2009 playoffs when the Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He ranks eighth in NHL history with 74 playoff wins (74-49, 2.09 GAA, .916 save percentage and 15 shutouts.
But he only played a combined 34 games the past two seasons because of injuries. He underwent sports hernia surgery this past January and never returned to the lineup.
Osgood still thinks he can still play but made the decision on Saturday night after talking to Holland. They have known each other since Osgood was a 15-or 16-year-old Midget goalie in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and Holland was Detroit’s chief scout, who was based in Medicine Hat. They have developed almost a father-son relationship over the years and both have summer homes in Vernon, British Columbia.
“After a lot of thought, I’ve decide to retire,” Osgood said. “I think it’s the best decision I could have made for the organization and for myself. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Holland said that Osgood will remain with the organization helping to develop Detroit’s goalie prospects with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins and helping to scout amateur goalies.
Holland talked about how competitive and mentally tough Osgood was on and off the ice.
“At times, with our organization, like in the late 90’s and early 2000’s,” Holland said. “There was the thought that we won because of our skaters and lost because of our goaltenders. And that’s absolutely untrue.”
Holland went on to say that Osgood always made the saves when he had to in the games that mattered the most.
And added: “It’s, what I think, is a Hall of Fame career.”