The Chris Osgood era in Detroit is over.
After playing 14 of his 17 seasons with the Red Wings, while splitting three others between the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues, Osgood officially announced his retirement from the NHL on Tuesday.
“I wrestled with it every day,” Osgood said of the decision to retire. “It was on my mind and made it difficult for me to even operate some days because it was taking a toll. I thought it would be easier, but it’s been very difficult for the last few months here deciding what I should do. Now I’m looking forward. I can move on and I’m excited about what I’m going to do with the organization.”
The 38-year-old Osgood may have felt some pressure to retire, seeing as how Jimmy Howard had taken over the No. 1 role last season and the Wings could have been concerned about heading into the 2011-12 season with an older backup goalie who was coming off season-ending sports hernia surgery in January.
Osgood leaves the NHL with 401 career victories, including 317 as a Detroit Red Wing. Only Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk won more games with the Red Wings (352) than Osgood, who won the Stanley Cup twice as a starter (1998, 2008) and once as a backup (1997).
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock feels that Osgood’s impressive career is Hall of Fame worthy, even just for reaching the 400-win plateau alone.
“I think when you’ve won 400 games and you’ve won three Cups, you’re in,” Babcock said. “Heck, I think if you’ve won 400 games and you’ve won one Cup you’re in. Winning the Cup is impossible.”
Osgood’s numbers don’t lie, but the knock against has always been that he was just a mediocre goalie who stood between the pipes for a dynasty. While there is truth to that, you don’t get to 400 career victories by accident.
While Osgood’s Hall of Fame future remains uncertain, he will be returning to the Red Wings as a goaltending consultant for the 2011-12 season.