Chris Osgood has announced his retirement today, and NHL fans should be celebrating his long, storied career. Yet his retirement promped the debate whether or not he should be a Hall of Famer. His resume includes being tenth all time in wins (401) in 17 seasons with the Red Wings, Blues and Islanders. He also has 3 Stanley Cup rings (’97, ’98, ’08), although one of those (’97) he was not the starter for.
So he should be a slam dunk Hall of Famer, right?
Let’s compare him to his peers, shall we? Below is a list of comparable goalies from the mid 80’s until present, in different categories.
Of course, most of the goalies who started playing before him have a higher goals against average (besides Hasek and Brodeur), due to scoring being higher during that period. Obviously with the likes of Brodeur, Hasek and Roy playing in the same era, it would be tough to crack an NHL All-Star 1st or 2nd team. But Osgood made the 1996 NHL 2nd All Star team, leading the league with 39 wins and posting a 2.17 GAA, while the powerhouse Red Wings won an NHL record 62 games. Unfortunately for them, that season they bombed out in the second round of the playoffs.
Looking deeper into the numbers, Osgood has a worse save percentage than everyone except Richter. Osgood’s one of three goalies in this group to not have one 40+ win season, despite playing on a strong Detroit team for most of his career. Do the strong Red Wings teams play a factor? Does playing behind the likes of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom (all future Hall of Famers) help or hurt his chances? It does both. Playing with those guys definitely helped his numbers, which could help his chances. But people can look back and say he wasn’t a major cog to the Cup winning teams because of those players.
Of this list, only Belfour and Roy are in the Hall of Fame currently. Brodeur and Hasek will be definitely inducted after they retire. The other eight (including Osgood) are up for debate. Curtis Joseph might have the best shot once he becomes eligible, although he doesn’t have the playoff resume as Osgood. Osgood’s solid regular season numbers turned into stellar playoff numbers, posting a 2.09 GAA and a 91.6% save percentage to go along with 74 playoff wins (8th all time).
Not saying that Osgood wasn’t a good goalie during his career, because he was. But Hall of Fame worthy? It’s the “Hall of Fame” and not the Hall of (Os)good. The HOF should be reserved for players who stood out in their era. Brodeur, Hasek, Roy all did. Did anyone think “Hall of Famer” when they saw Osgood play? Not likely. He was a second tier goalie, with many of the above mentioned goalies falling in that category as well. Will Osgood get in? The inductions of Billy Smith and Grant Fuhr help his chances. Maybe eventually when memories have faded and we’re left with the numbers, he’ll get in.