Can anybody tell me who is second to Martin Brodeur in wins among all active goalies in the NHL? Do you know which goalie is 10th overall ALL TIME in wins in the NHL?
Very few hockey fans and even hockey experts, including myself, would guess CHRIS OSGOOD for both answers. Yet, the diminutive goalie from Alberta very quietly reached those goals playing well under the radar. Three more wins will tie him for 9th with Grant Fuhr, his idol, and he will become #8 with eight more victories, surpassing the great Glen Hall. What an accomplishment for a goalie deemed too small to play in the NHL!
Chris Osgood reached the 400 win milestone with his OT win against the Colorado Avalanche last night. It was a well- earned victory as Chris had to be outstanding in this game making 43 saves. He was solid in the second period making several great saves.
Chris was drafted in the 3rd round by the Detroit Redwings in the NHL Entry draft of 1991 in Buffalo. I was an assistant coach and goalie coach for the Wings then. When we selected him, from the draft floor I couldn’t help but remember the young Osgood playing for the Medecine Hat Tigers and the baby faced kid walking in a hotel for an interview just one day prior.
Ken Holland was the Chief Amateur Scout for the Redwings in 1991. He wanted my opinion on some goalies and he asked me to travel to Western Canada to watch two goalies that he was considering for the top 3 rounds. Osgood was one and the other was Jamie McLennan who played in Lethbridge. I picked a time in the schedule when I could get multiple viewings of both goalies and established camp at the Lodge in Medecine Hat. Every amateur scout will know what hotel I’m talking about. Lethbridge is only a couple of hours drive. After watching both goalies four times, my preference was definitely Osgood. Although he was small, he could move very quickly, he had a great catching hand, he competed hard and could handle the puck very well. Jamie was a good goalie also, (he was drafted ahead of Chris by the Islanders) but he didn’t have the quickness or the puck handling ability that Chris had and he always had trouble with rebounds.
The first time I met Chris was in a very difficult situation for him. On his way to Buffalo for the draft, he flew from Calgary to Toronto. He arrived in Toronto right around rush hour which can be memorable by itself. A trip to Buffalo which normally takes less than an hour, took almost three hours. Players often have interviews from prospective teams prior to the draft. Osgood’s first interview was the Detroit Redwings. He arrived at our hotel about one hour late. With his agent Roly Thompson close by, he walked into a room full of scouts, management and coaches. Not only did he experience his first traffic rush hour in Toronto, he had to walk into a room full of “stuffy adults”, people he didn’t know and answer very personal questions. His body language will always stick in my mind. He was small, frail, shy and timid, his shoulders were slumped and his head looking down. He looked more like the “stick-boy” than the future goalie of the Detroit Redwings. Given the circumstances, he handled the situation very well. His answers were very good if one could hear his mumbling voice as he was looking at the floor and speaking very softly.
He was never one for talking a lot, especially early in his career. The following summer he came from Medecine Hat to Detroit and we drove together to Rochester NY, where I ran a goalie school. I don’t think he said more than a handful of sentences during the six hour drive. My goal was to have him teach my techniques so that he could execute later on and to develop a relationship. It was a success. The kids liked him, he did a great job and our relationship improved to where we actually had a conversation on the way back.
He had his ups and downs in his NHL career, like most of us. After winning two Stanley Cups, one as a starter, Detroit put him on waivers and the Islanders claimed him. He later was traded to St-Louis before returning to the Wings as a free agent to win one more Stanley Cup. In 17 years, he never had a losing record; he played in two All-Star games, won the Jennings Trophy twice for the best goals against in the league.
Very quietly, without much fanfare and very little recognition, he fought through adversity as he reached goals that propelled him in a class with the Elites. Let’s give Chris Osgood his due. He has accomplished more than most of us only dream of and he did it his way.
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
PS: This version has been updated. The previous blog I stated that Don Meehan was Osgood’s agent while it was and still is Roly Thompson.