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Published:July 21st, 2011 10:12 EST
Detroit Red Wings` Chris Osgood Set to Retire

Detroit Red Wings` Chris Osgood Set to Retire

By Michael Weidenhamer

The Wizard of Oz has closed the curtain. Chris Osgood, the Detroit Red Wings` longtime goalie, has finally retired after playing for 17 seasons. His body had been giving out on him the last couple of seasons, most notably with groin problems.

Osgood, or "Ozzie" as he is more affectionately known by Red Wings fans, retires with 401 wins, good enough for tenth on the list of goalies with the most wins. That sounds like an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame, but over the years he has received some negative press. There are people out there who think he was only a good goalie because he played on the Wings, and because of that he still needs to prove himself.

But the truth is, he is good enough for the Hall of Fame. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997 with veteran goaltender Mike Vernon in net for the playoffs. When Detroit could have stuck with Vernon and kept Osgood as a backup, they traded Vernon away and relied on Osgood. This proved to be the right move since they won the Cup again the next year.

A few years later, after some early playoff exits, they got rid of him so they could sign Dominik Hasek. While the Red Wings celebrated another Cup win, Osgood bounced around the league for a while, playing for the Islanders and Blues.

As usual, he was always optimistic about his career. "In `98, when we won the Cup, I knew I was tough enough. And on Long Island, I knew I was talented enough."    

After a four year exile from Detroit, he returned to team up with Hasek. With this formidable combination, the team stormed through the 2007-08 season, winning 54 games, more than anyone else. Osgood and Hasek each won 27 games that season. But it was in the playoffs where Osgood truly redeemed himself. After Hasek started off the first round a bit shaky, Osgood came to the rescue and started for the rest of the playoffs. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, he stopped the Penguins from tying the game and possibly forcing a Game 7. He finally proved that the first Cup win was not a fluke.

He had troubles like everyone else, but that should only endear him more to his fans. He may not have been a stonewall goalie like Patrick Roy, but he knew how to win. In the end, that`s all that matters. Clearly the Red Wings agree because he is staying with the team to help coach young goalies in their system. Hopefully the Wizard`s apprentices will all do great things for the team and ensure years of Stanley Cup wins.

Sources: Detroit Free Press