One of the hottest topics around the NHL since Tuesday has been the debate of whether the now-retired Chris Osgood should be in the Hall of Fame. He has 401 wins and three Stanley Cups to his credit, which would normally be enough to be a lock for the Hall. However, some feel he benefitted from being on great Detroit teams over the years.
Here are some contrasting views around the internet on Osgood’s credentials for the Hall of Fame:
From Craig Custance of the Sporting News:
He retires with three Stanley Cup championships, including two in which he was the starting goalie. He nearly won a fourth Stanley Cup with the Wings, who lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals. That spring, he was in contention for the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.
Only nine NHL goalies have more regular-season victories than Osgood. His 74 career playoff wins are good for No. 8 all-time, three behind No. 7 Mike Vernon -- a former Wings teammate.
It all adds up to a Hall of Fame career, Holland said.
“Chris thrived in dealing with the pressure of playing on a good team,” Holland said. “It’s not easy winning 400 games … if it were so easy everybody would be doing it.”
Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski has mixed feelings on the subject:
It's their Hall of Fame; Osgood might not be in yours, depending on your standards. He wouldn't be in mine, because I picture the Hall of Fame like Mount Olympus and Osgood is a demigod. But my standards, and my politics, aren't certainly in line with those of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
The standards they've set aren't for immortals; they're for mortals with really, really great numbers, some hardware and popularity among their peers.
Osgood hits on all of those points, even if he can't be considered on the level of players like Roy or Brodeur.
Not everyone can be Mick or Keith. Sometimes you're Charlie Watts. Without Charlie Watts, the Stones wouldn't be the Stones. Without Osgood, despite what his detractors say, those Red Wings might not have been championship teams.
SB Nation’s Travis Hughes is like the majority of non-believers, saying Osgood was a good goalie on great teams:
Hell, just look at the Wings' philosophy. They've never consistently committed a ton of dollars to the goaltending position, instead opting to beef up other parts of their team while relying on lesser skill in net to get them through. It's worked for them four times since 1997, and three of those times, Osgood was one of their goalies.
Again, that's not to discredit Osgood's contributions, especially in the 2008 postseason when he was utterly fantastic. But that doesn't make him a legend in the sport of hockey. He's an above-average goaltender who benefited by playing on some really, really great teams, and if you don't believe that his team affiliation had anything to do with his success, all you have to do is look at save percentage, a stat (unlike goalie wins) that actually matters.
Tab Bamford of Committed Indians chimes in:
To be a Hall of Famer, you have to put up elite numbers and be one of the best of your generation, if not the best.
Consider that, in 17 years, Osgood started more than 54 games on only four occasions. He won more than 30 games only six times in his career. He finished in the league’s top ten in save percentage only three times.
He was never a First Team All-Star, and was only selected to play in two All-Star games in 17 seasons. He was never a Vezina Trophy winner.
How do I feel?
There are valid points to both sides of this debate. Yes, he was a clutch postseason performer with three Stanley Cup rings. Yes, he won over 400 games – which is hard to do. Yes, he was the model of consistency with the Red Wings.
That being said, ‘Ozzie’ was never a sample of greatness. Other goalies that played in the same era – namely Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek – did represent greatness. It’s hard to think of a time where Osgood was ever considered a top five or ten goalie in the NHL at any point of his career.
And as Travis points out, it shouldn’t be all about victories. Osgood’s .905 career save percentage is very average; his 2.49 goals-against average doesn’t scream Hall of Fame. He also averaged 41.9 starts per year, which means he was rarely a workhorse and didn’t start night in, night out.
The debate between Osgood and the Hall of Fame is unique. He has the 10th-most victories all-time for a goaltender, but doesn’t necessarily pass the eye test, per se.
Do I think he should get into the Hall? No. Will he get into the Hall? Yes.
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