Chris Osgood earned his 400th career win last night, a feat only nine other men have accomplished.Osgood could easily pass two of them and have the eighth most wins in NHL history by season’s end.
But does he really belong among the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game?
His supporting stats, a 2.49 goals against average, .905 save percentage, and 50 shutouts aren’t too shabby. Better yet, Osgood has posted an eye-opening 2.09 goals against average and a .916 save percentage in the playoffs. Those stats should be more than enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.
But Osgood’s is a case where stats don’t tell the whole story. He’s been a solid player, there’s no doubt about that, but he also happened to play for one of the few modern day sports dynasties. The Detroit Red Wings do well every year, and it may not matter much who’s between the pipes. Osgood got to play with some all time greats with the Red Wings; Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Brett Hull, etc. all in their primes.
Whether the Red Wings would have been as successful without Osgood is debatable. But the talent they’ve had over the last 15 years is undeniable. And that is what Osgood’s critics point to when they say that Osgood has had a wonderful career because of the Red Wings, rather than in spite of them.
The question of whether Osgood is a Hall of Famer or not boils down to how much stock you put in statistics. If there are certain thresholds a player must pass, 500 home runs in baseball for example, than Osgood is a shoo-in. But if you look at things on a case-by-case basis, then there are certainly points against Osgood.
I don’t know how Hall of Fame voters will vote when Osgood eventually becomes eligible. But to me the stats and wins are undeniable. In some cases stats must be separated from circumstances, but not when they’re this overwhelming.
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