The case for Chris Osgood’s place in the Hockey Hall of Fame

There’s been a debate amongst Detroit Red Wings fans since the man simply known by the affectionate moniker of “Ozzie” decided to hang up his pads in July of 2011 after a 17 year NHL career.

Does he deserve to be enshrined in Toronto?

We can go ahead and put an end to that debate by declaring that yes, in fact – Chris Osgood absolutely has a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

With 401 career victories to his name, Osgood ranks 13th all time in NHL history – ahead of his former teammate Dominik Hasek, who is widely regarded as the NHL’s greatest netminder. Of course, there are those two Stanley Cup rings on his hand as a starter, with a third as backup to Mike Vernon in 1997.

Now, the main knock on Osgood’s career is that his numbers were inflated by playing on some pretty great teams. Never mind of course that plenty of his Hall of Fame counterparts such as Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, and Vernon all played on some pretty great teams as well.

With six seasons of 30 wins or more, the two-time All Star was also the recipient of the William Jennings Trophy in 1996 (shared with Vernon), and was also second in Vezina Trophy voting as the League’s top goaltender.

Osgood was certainly never a flashy goalie, but he was there when his teams needed him – not only in Detroit, but on Long Island as well. Unceremoniously cast aside by Detroit in 2001 upon the acquisition of Hasek, he rebounded with the New York Islanders and led them to their first playoff appearance in seven years, and came within a single victory of upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1 of the 2002 postseason. He’d soon make his way to St. Louis, where he played 1 1/2 seasons before returning to Detroit in 2005.

Ironically, his history with Hasek came full circle in 2008 when he replaced the former in net during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and led Detroit to the ’08 title.

And had the team in front of him played more than one period of Game 7 of the 2009 Finals as if it weren’t a pre-season game, he’d have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after having bounced back in a big way following a subpar regular season.

There’s always room for debate regarding certain players and whether or not their careers merit an appearance in the Hall. One look at Osgood’s stats puts that argument to rest.

There’s no doubt – Ozzie belongs.