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Brian Duff's Blog: Osgood deserves better

Chris Osgood leads all NHL goalies in save percentage (.939) and goals against average (1.40) heading into Game 3 against Dallas. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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Chris Osgood leads all NHL goalies in save percentage (.939) and goals against average (1.40) heading into Game 3 against Dallas. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

What did Chris Osgood do to warrant this lack of respect?

Is it possible that in three short weeks he’ll be hoisting the Cup for a third time, perhaps with a record of 14-0, and there will still be a significant collection of fans and media alike suggesting he is only a winner by association?

Look, I’m the first to admit there were many times when the Osgood/No Good punch line seemed to roll off the tongue with great regularity, but isn’t it time we all got over some of the past long-range shots and bad goals that are part of every goaltender’s career?

The 1995-96 season was a long time ago. Just because the Wings didn’t win it all that year despite a 131-point regular season and a 39-6-5 record from Osgood is no reason to continue holding a grudge.

Sure, Mike Vernon was the man to end years of Motown misery in 1997. But Osgood carried the mail the following year and delivered the same result.

Still, that hardly won over the critics. As the story goes, a highly respected national columnist in Canada wrote Osgood was the worst netminder to ever lead his team to a Stanley Cup. Ozzie’s parents are said to have marched directly to the newspapers’ office to cancel their subscription in person!
 
Since that time the Peace River, Alta., product has simply built upon his solid career numbers, so much so that there will come a day when someone will wonder aloud, “Why isn’t that guy in the Hall of Fame?”

I know, it sounds ridiculous. But let’s project where he might be when his new three-year contract comes to an end in the summer of 2011.

Currently 15th all-time with 363 wins, all Osgood has to do – with a team that sure looks poised to be more than competitive in the years ahead –  is average 20 wins a season to get to seventh on that list, currently occupied by Tony Esposito (423 wins).

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If the Red Wings win it all this year, who’s to say they won’t secure another title in short order? Osgood could be a four-timer Cup winner before he retires.

But that’s putting the cart way before the horse. Let’s stay focused on the present. His playoff numbers are leading the league, save for wins because he didn’t get the call to start the post-season.

How he responds after a final buzzer melee with the Stars’ version of Mad Mike after Game 2 might prove interesting. Not that he’ll change his approach, but he may have a more ornery and desperate Dallas team to contend with.

Should his impressive run lead to a championship, perhaps another slight will be corrected.

The NHL Guide and Record Book (the ultimate source for all hockey reporters) has a section devoted to the entry draft. On page 220, you’ll find the first round picks and “other notable selections” from the class of 1991.

Osgood went 54th that year, and would seem to have notable numbers.

Yet the players listed as “notable” include Jozef Stumpel, Sandy McCarthy, Steve Konowalchuk, Bill Lindsay and Mariusz Czerkawski, but no Osgood.

And so it continues.

Chris Osgood. No good? Good? Really good? You tell me.

Brian Duff is a host of the NHL Network’s ‘On the Fly’ and host of Leafs Lunch on AM 640 Toronto Radio. Read more of his THN.com Blog HERE.

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