Almost titled this "Chris Osgood's 400th Win: Or, Right Place, Right Time and Possibly 'Lucking' Your Way Into the Hall of Fame," but figured that would be a little too cynical.
Osgood, if you didn't know, beat Colorado in 4-3 on a Nick Kronwall (or Kronwell if you're Larry Murphy) Monday night in Colorado to finally notch win No. 400. Here's the list he will join:
Click to enlarge.
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things does not belong.
At this point, I should say that I am a Red Wings fan, just not a Chris Osgood fan. (Nor have I ever really liked Kirk Maltby, but most of that stems from him hogging a roster spot in the last few years despite not being really useful in anything other than diving or complaining or being a link to the Red Wings of the late 1990's. At least Kris Draper's still been a fine face off man.)
I didn't always dislike Osgood. He was once a favorite and I was once a staunch Ozzie-train conductor. After falling into Sabermetrics in baseball analysis, I re-think everything in all of the sports I enjoy and have been able to see beyond the number of W's a player (pitcher in baseball or goalie in hockey) have piled up in their careers.
So, to look beyond, I quickly grabbed Osgood's save percentage by year and plotted them against the league save percentage.
Click to enlarge.
The huge spike in 1994-95 is misleading as Osgood only played 14 games that season at age 22. He got in 50 games in 1995-96 and posted a .911 save percentage against a league average of just .898 -- quite the difference. Ozzie saved around 15 goals versus what a league average goalie would've stopped given the exact same 1190 shots against. From then, the gap just closes. Osgood was never more than 0.007% better than league average for the rest of his career -- that year was 97-98 where he posted a .913 save percentage versus the league average of .906.
Osgood played no less than 52 games from 1998-99 through 2003-04 except in 2002-03 where he split time between the New York Islander and the St. Louis Blues and he posted essentially league average rates during that time.
However, the most damning evidence for the Red Wings fans who insist on Osgood's induction into the HOF is what happened when he hit the open market. Wouldn't teams fall all over themselves to sign a future HOFer to stabilize their team in net? Sure they would, if Osgood were one and NHL teams know this and thus he wasn't paid like an elite NHL goalie.
The Contrarian Goaltender has a great post about "adjusted" salaries/career earnings for goalies over the last 20 years or so. Osgood fell between Bill Ranford and Evgeni Nabakov. If Osgood is so good, shouldn't he have gotten the high salaries that Hasek, Roy, Belfour, Brodeur, et al. received?
In a team sport like hockey where separating value for individual players from team accomplishments are a bit murky, who gets the most dollars over the average salary seems to be a decent measure (Mike Richter's 5th place position on the list of salaries notwithstanding).
Still, the evidence supports Chris Osgood being a love-able player in a market that loves their "gritty" players (see: Kris Draper, Joey Kocur, Kirk Maltby, Darren Helm, etc etc) as much as their star players, that was just a sliver above-average during his peak.
Hardly Hall of Fame worthy.