Last night Chris Osgood won his 400th game. That makes him only the tenth player in the history of the league to hit that milestone. I won’t lie, I’ve always had a soft spot for Ozzie. I’ve followed his career from the very beginning when he was a promising solution to the perpetual mediocrity in goal that was a staple of the 1980’s Red Wings. Through all the up and downs of his career: scoring a goal, blowing the 1994 playoffs, letting in that shot from the redline against the Stars in 1998, following that game up with a Game Seven shutout, etc, I’ve remained a fan for the man wearing the throwback helmet and cage combo, and who only now, at nearly forty, looks like he’s old enough to drink.
The real question though, is will reaching the 400 win mark be enough to get Osgood into the Hall of Fame? All of the other goalies with 400 plus wins are in, or are sure-fire locks like Ed Belfour. However, despite the two Stanley Cups won as a starter, and the 400 wins, I suspect there will be resistance to Osgood’s induction. He never won a Vezina trophy — arguably he should’ve won in 1996, his numbers were on the whole better than Carey’s, though he did play in 20 fewer games — made very few All-Star teams, only was named to the All-NHL team once, never won 40 or more games in a season, never won a Conn Smythe Trophy — though his numbers in 08 and 09 were deserving, etc. But then again, he played in an era where Dominic Hasek sucked all the air out of the room when it came to goalies — how nuts is it that Brodeur didn’t win a Vezina until 2002? So sure, compared to Hasek Osgood doesn’t stack up — and didn’t for Detroit in the 2001 off-season, natch — but then again, who does? In the end with Chris Osgood it will come down to how much weight voters place on his year to year consistency, always putting up good, not great numbers, behind some very excellent teams. Personally, I think the Cups and wins put him over the top — certainly if Detroit had hung on to win in 2009 he would be a slam dunk. But I am also highly biased and my hunch is that most voters will say that Ozzie’s success was due more to playing for the best franchise of his era than his own ability, and he will become the first goaltender with 400 wins to not make the Hockey Hall of Fame. I hope I’m wrong, but flying just a bit under the radar seems to be the way for the man in the boring mask.