The NHL’s history is full of great moments, great victories, and great players – all of which and more are celebrated at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Walking through the halls of that building is like a crash course on the past of our great game, and the individuals who helped make it so great. I have personally never been, but it is undoubtedly on my “want-to-do” list.
However, there is one issue that I have with the HHOF that I hope will be righted before I visit someday.
Chris Osgood is not in it.
Osgood’s case for hockey Valhalla is one that makes itself, but I will make it for him anyways.
Osgood’s Career Stats
If the debate over Chris Osgood comes down to stats, there is no reason for him to not get a bid. He finished his 3-team career with a 401-216-50 record and a .649 regulation winning percentage. His total winning percentage is 4th all-time, and he is one of just 13 goaltenders with 400 wins in the history of the game.
Additionally, Osgood’s career save percentage is .905, and his GAA is 2.49. In the 1995-1996 season, he led the NHL in wins and finished third in the league in shutouts with five. He was the runner-up for the Vezina trophy and was 22nd in Hart voting that year, just his third in the National Hockey League. Osgood was a three-time all star and the starter for the Western Conference in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in his mid-30’s.
As good as Osgood’s regular season stats are, his playoff stats are even better. He tallied 74 wins and 49 losses, good for 8th most playoff wins all time. In the playoffs, Osgood recorded 15 shutouts (tied for 4th all-time) and a 2.09/.916 split. Chris is a 3-time Stanley Cup Champion, all with the Red Wings. He was the backup for Mike Vernon in 1997, but was the starter for both the 1998 and 2008 championship teams.
Osgood Compared to Existing Hall of Fame Goaltenders
Every single eligible member of the 400 wins club has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, except for two: Curtis Joseph (who never won a Stanley Cup) and Chris Osgood. Chris has less games played in his career than any other member of the 400 club. On top of that, he has more wins than the following Hall of Fame goalies (how many more wins Chris has is in parentheses): Dominic Hasek (12), Rogie Vachon (48), Billy Smith (96), Bernie Parent (129), among others.
Osgood has a better save percentage than Grant Fuhr, and is only .1% behind Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour. His career GAA is better than that of Grant Fuhr, Glenn Hall, Tony Esposito, Ed Belfour, and Patrick Roy. Sure, many of these men played in different eras than Chris, but there has certainly been some goalpost moving when it comes to Osgood’s claim to the Hall.
2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs
If Osgood needs a “Hall of Fame moment” to further justify his case as a H.O.F. goaltender, look no further than the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Osgood entered the 2008 Playoffs as the backup to the aforementioned Dominic Hasek, starting goaltender for the 2002 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit squad. The President’s Trophy-winning Wings were heavily favored in their first round matchup with Nashville. However, after Hasek struggled against the Predators, then-Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock turned to his second string netminder in Game 4 to try and salvage the series and the season.
This turned out to be the correct choice.
Osgood was lights out the rest of the way, posting a .930 sv% and 1.55 GAA in 19 games played. The Red Wings won two straight against the Predators to close out the series. From then (April 18th, Game 5 First Round) to May 14th (Game 4 Western Conference Finals) Osgood didn’t lose again, winning 9-in-a-row to put the Red Wings one game away from the Finals for the first time since 2002.
After back-to-back losses to the Stars in games 4 and 5 of the WCF (in which Osgood gave up 3 and 2 goals respectively), the Wings traveled back home for their third straight chance to close out the series. Osgood saved his best for last, surrendering only one goal, propelling the Red Wings back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He was only getting started, though.
In the first two games of the following series against the Penguins, Chris posted back-to-back shutouts, and the Wings raced out to a 2-0 series lead. Making this feat even more impressive is that the 2007-2008 Pittsburgh Penguins roster included names like Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, and Marian Hossa.
Osgood went on to give up just 3 more collective goals in the remaining two victories in the series, both in Pittsburgh. He allowed just a single goal in a pivotal Game 4, his best performance of the playoffs, in which the Wings took a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.
Another stellar performance in Game 6 clinched Detroit’s 11th title, including a last-second save immortalized by the words of Doc Emerick: “Save, Osgood! And that’s it!” Chris had won his third Cup, and his second as the starter, after entering the playoffs as the backup.
The following are Osgood’s stats for the 2008 Final: 6 GP, 4-2-0, 132 saves on 142 shots, .930 sv%, 2 SO.
So, Why Isn’t Chris Osgood in the Hall of Fame?
To be honest with you, I don’t know if I can answer this question. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be inducted. He played behind some great offensive and defensive teams in Motown without a doubt, but he certainly did his part to will the team to victory as well (not to mention his numbers were similar or better in the four years he spent in St. Louis and New York).
A good team with a bad goaltender is at best mediocre (case in point, the Edmonton Oilers). It’s unfair to use the quality of his teammates against Osgood, especially when the Wings most likely would not have won the 2008 Cup without him. He has the numbers, he has the accomplishments, and he has the hardware.
It’s about time for Chris Osgood to get his due respect, in the form of an invitation to forever be represented in the hallowed halls of the Hockey Hall of Fame.