Chris Osgood has been called by a hockey columnist the "Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL," for Osgood often doesn't get enough respect. He's been panned by many hockey fans, particularly in Detroit where fans of his former team would sometimes refer to him as "Osbad." He has also been frequently referred to as the worst goalie to ever win a Stanley Cup, as he won with the Red Wings in 1997 as a backup to Mike Vernon and in 1998 as the starter. But statements like these severely undercut his real abilities as a hockey netminder. He is patient, plays the puck well, and usually plays with ample confidence. Osgood is not one of those goalies who stands on his head to make the play; he simply doesn't have to.
Chris Osgood was born on November 26, 1972 in Peace River, Alberta. He is 5' 10" and catches left. He was Detroit's third choice, 54th overall, in the 1991 Entry Draft. Through the 2006-2007 season, after playing 621 career NHL games, Osgood has a record of 336 wins, 186 losses, and 77 ties/overtime losses. He's played 35,611 minutes in those games. At the end of the 06-07 season he had a 2.45 goals-against average. As far as playoffs are concerned, Osgood has played 87 of them with a record in those games of 45-37 with a 2.24 goals-against average through the 2003-2004 season. He did not play in the 2006 or 2007 due to injuries and/or being a backup.
In his Junior career, Chris Osgood played three seasons in the Western Hockey League for the Medicine Hat, Brandon, and Seattle. He was named to the WHL East Second All-Star Team in '91. As far as minor hockey, he played here and there for three seasons with Adirondack of the American Hockey League where he registered a respectable 3.81 GAA. Even though he was drafted in 1991, he didn't play for the big club in Detroit until the 93-94 season. His debut was at Toronto on October 15. As a rookie that year, he enjoyed a .622 winning percentage and was named NHL Rookie of the Month in February. His first NHL victory was against the LA Kings on October 23 where he made 23 saves.
In his first full season with the big boys, 1994-1995, Chris Osgood began impressing early with a .917 save percentage which was good for second in the league. He only allowed 2 goals or less in 13 of those 19 starts he had that season. He played 2 games in the playoffs that year and only allowed 2 goals. The next season Osgood would get into his stride and prove himself as a bonafide NHL starter where he tied for first in league for best GAA (2.17), first in NHL in wins (39) and third in shutouts with 5. He earned the Jennings Trophy (lowest goals-against average) along with his teammate Mike Vernon. He wasn't done there, though, with records and awards. He also set a Red Wings record with a 21-game unbeaten streak (19-0-2, Jan. 10-March 27) and in that he posted a 13-game winning streak. That also set a team record, smashing Terry Sawchuk's nine game streak set in the mid-1950's. As if all that wasn't enough, Osgood decided to go ahead and become the third goalie to ever score a goal (Billy Smith was the first, Hextall was the second) in his 100th career game at Hartford in a 4-2 win. Non-hockey buffs might wonder how that was possible. It only happens when a team is down by one goal in the final minute of the game: they yank their goaltender from the net in lieu of an extra attacker on the ice to try to tie the game. If the winning team's goalie is crafty (or lucky!) enough, he can bang the puck over everybody's head, or off of the opposite boards, and send the puck careening down the ice into the gaping net at the other end.
Oh, and also that season Osgood played in his first NHL All Star Game.
So how did Osgood follow up a tremendous season like that? Well, in 96-97, as part of a goaltending trio of himself, Mike Vernon, and some guy named Kevin Hodson, they earned another Jennings Trophy (2.35) and Osgood recorded a season-best eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2) from February 12th - March 15th. Osgood was selected to be in another All Star Game but had to miss it due to injury. Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, one of the winningest coaches in NHL history, had an interesting way of playing his goalies for a few years. He considered neither Mike Vernon nor Chris Osgood the #1 goalie. As impressive as Osgood had been, almost seemingly at the flip of a coin, Bowman decided to go with Mike Vernon in the 1997 playoffs, where Detroit won the first of their late-90's Stanley Cups. And in 1998, after another season where Osgood and Vernon virtually shared goaltending duties evenly, Chris got the nod in the playoffs and went ahead and won the Wings yet another Cup, finishing off the run with a 4-0 Finals sweep of the Washington Capitals. Osgood had a 16-6 record in that winning playoff season with a 2.12 GAA.
Osgood continued to dazzle in the 98-99 season where he passed Harry Lumley for the #2 Wings record for wins (163) and in giving up an overtime goal on February 24 he ended a streak of 33 regular-season OT games without giving up a goal. In 99-00 he had 30 wins for the fourth time in his career and posted an eight-game unbeaten streak. Also that season, with Mike Vernon being traded in 1999, Osgood finally rested alone as the #1 goaltender in the Motor City, being backed up by Manny Legace.
But that would not last very long.
At the end of the 2000-2001 where Detroit fans were shocked by an early, first-round playoff ouster by the Kings, management decided that Osgood's days in Michigan were over placed him on waivers - he was picked up by the New York Islanders. His replacement, egotistical hot-head crybaby Dominik Hasek won Detroit the Stanley Cup in 2002 for their third championship in five years (and Hasek's first ever).
In New York, like Dangerfield, Osgood didn't get a lot of respect (sometimes being called "Wasgood"), even though he set a franchise record for minutes played in a season (3,743; previously held by Ron Hextall in 1993-94: 3,581), set another franchise record in appearing in his 66th game on April 14 vs. Philadelphia, breaking Ron Hextall's record of 65, and in that same game he set a franchise record of 32 victories, previously set by Billy Smith in 1981-82. Osgood set another NYI record with four assists in a season for a goaltender.
Despite all that, and getting the hapless Islanders in the playoffs for the first time in a very long draught (where they lost in 7 games in the first round), Osgood didn't last very long on the Island. At the trade deadline in March 2003, while on a 19-game sideline because of an ankle injury, he was shipped to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Justin Papineau and a 2003 second round draft pick. That season saw a lot of injurious goalie woes for the Blues, where Osgood was the seventh netminder to start for the club (after Freddie Brathwaite, Reinhard Divis, Curtis Sanford, Cody Rudkowsky, Tom Barrasso, and the Blues' former #1 Brent Johnson). But Chris stood tall for his first start with the Blues on March 15 in Nashville, where was perfect for 60 minutes and not a second longer, earning a shutout and only giving the Preds a goal as the final buzzer rang. With that he became the first goalie in Blues history to record a shutout in the debut for the team. In the playoffs he set another record and became the first goalie in Blues' history to record a shutout in a playoff debut in a 6-0 spanking of the Vancouver Canucks in Game One of the first round. Unfortunately, after going up 3-1 in the series, the team got sick with the flu and fell to the 'Nuckleheads in seven games.
Osgood did good in St. Louis, where he played with with greats like Chris Pronger and Keith Tkachuk, posting great numbers early in the 2003-2004 season. After near-disastrous experiments with goalies like Roman Turek and Brent Johnson, the Blues finally had no-contest #1 veteran goaltender and he did well for the team, but not well enough. After a dismal outing in the 2004 playoffs, the Blues did not pick up an option on his contract in the summer of 2004 and instead traded to acquire former Ottawa Senators goalie Patrick Lalime. Due to the lockout, however, Osgood didn't play a single game in the '04-'05 campaign, obviously. When the lockout was over, after sitting in limbo for over a year, he finally found a team again. He signed with Detroit prior to the 2005-06 season, a place most people never thought he'd go back to again! But he competed with career backup netminder Manny Legace for the #1 spot -- and lost. He played a fair amount of games in 05-06 (32) but it was clear that he was the #2 during that season and the playoffs where the President's Trophy Red Wings were eliminated in six games by the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers. But in 2006-2007, Hasek returned - again - making Osgood a #2 goalie that season, while also that year his former backup Manny Legace ended up in St. Louis, which sort of makes the whole thing a weird goalie circle jerk of sorts.