Glendale, Ariz. — In a nearly empty cafeteria deep in the guts of the Gila River Arena, two hours before a game with the Coyotes, only one of the 10 tables is occupied.
As smells of cooking fill the room, the Red Wings broadcasters are busy preparing for the night ahead.
Presently, the tables will fill with off-ice NHL officials, front office personnel, staff from the two franchises and media, all gathering for one of the better traditions of the league, a pregame meal that happens before every regular-season contest.
But first, the homework; time to cram.
Arrayed before Ken Kal, Ken Daniels, Paul Woods, Trevor Thompson and Chris Osgood are individual piles of NHL game notes, standings, team rosters and sheets filled with statistics for both scoring and in any of a long list of game situations.
Each man is bent over, peering at what they may report instantly in the approaching live broadcasts, identifying scoring and defensive trends, memorizing names and jersey numbers.
“It’s one of those things where people tell you, there’s more to it than you think,” Osgood said, earlier in the day.
A third season as a broadcaster is bringing new challenges for the three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie who still describes himself as a work in progress behind the microphone and on camera. But Osgood is more than holding his own.
“Just be prepared,” he said, of sage advice offered since he launched his after-playing career.
“Have more notes and stories than you’ll ever need — because you might need them. Because some games? The glass might break.
“Always have stories that, 80 percent of the time you won’t need — just because you have to,” he said. “Make sure you’re prepared.
“Be willing to have a lot of stuff you don’t use.”
After the Red Wings morning skate, he had lingered around the visitors’ dressing room to watch and talk to players going about their routines. Osgood worked the room, a bit, collecting a little string for the broadcast that night.
He remains, to a significant degree, “one of the guys.”
Not a current player, certainly. But about as close as you can get, it seems, as far as the guys in the room are concerned.
It is all part of the preparation, Osgood said. Marshal tons of information, recall it when needed.
And, oh by the way “kid,” good timing is a priority.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” Osgood said.
“I would say, when I first started, it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be.
“I’m fortunate because I know all of the players on our team, I know most of the guys in the league, so that makes it easier for me. But moving forward, to continue to do this, I’m going to have to learn some guys I don’t know.
“With our guys, it’s simple. I know what’s going on with the team and how the guys are, how they’re playing and what their tendencies are. That makes it easy.”
So do his colleagues, Osgood said.
They have helped, especially this season, as his role continues to expand from studio analyst, before and after games and between periods, to the far more impromptu, free-wheeling, instantaneous style of in-game analysis.
“Fortunate to work with Mickey Redmond, because he’s a legend,” he said. “But, I mean, Ken Daniels is really good at what he does.
“So, for me, it’s learning how to get in and out, with Ken, and getting some cohesiveness with him and learning that.
“How to explain something in 10 seconds, sometimes, is difficult,” he added.
Osgood cracks a big grin when he admits he was more nervous the night he came out of the studio and into the game broadcast booth, than before his games as a goalie.
“Oh, I was more nervous for that than when I was playing! I’d never done it before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
“Definitely a lot of mistakes, I would say,” he said, being a bit too hard on himself. “I’d definitely categorize this as learning on the job.
“It’s a lot different once the cameras go on, the timing, and saying something that sounds knowledgeable in a certain amount of time is a lot different from just getting an interview.”
Osgood say he enjoys going back and forth, from his role in the studio to game action in the booths.
“It’s nice to do both,” he said. “I would say doing the color is harder.
“You really can’t prepare for what happens. When you’re in the studio, you can prepare and edit stuff so you know what you’re talking about before it happens.
“Here,” he said of the in-game analysis that night in Arizona, “it’s on the fly.
“I think the in-game broadcast is still a work in progress.”
Meanwhile, his presence is part of the Red Wings tradition.
After the players’ big win in Arizona Friday, Osgood, the broadcaster; Kris Draper, the special assistant to Ken Holland; and Kirk Maltby, a pro scout for the Wings, stood together in the dressing room. Seeing them together, one could almost feel the glory days again.
Given the stories told of those days, after those three converse, preparing for a practical joke might still be prudent.
“It was usually Ozzie,” Nicklas Lidstrom said, at one of the events for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, earlier in the season.
“He’d always deny it,” Lidstrom said, smiling. “But you’d always find out it was probably him.”
Whether in the studio or the booth, these days, Osgood’s experience as a goalie and preparation are his best attributes, along with his enjoyment.