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Krupa: Osgood's Hall bid may go to third period

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Goalie Chris Osgood stretches by the Red Wings bench in 2008.

For a third year, the selection committee for the Hockey Hall of Fame passed over Chris Osgood.

It is only a matter of time.

Osgood’s career, measured by statistics, places him firmly within the pack of every goalie inducted since 2000.

There is a troublesome lack of buzz about him in the media this time of year, including the prognostications of inductees that crop up annually in late June. So many of them list goaltenders like Miikka Kiprusoff, Nikolai Khabibulin and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whose careers fall short of Osgood’s.

Curtis Joseph is more in the neighborhood, and he gets a lot more mentions in the media.

As for what the 19-member selection committee of the Hockey Hall of Fame discussed, whether they mentioned Osgood this year or last year, how they evaluate him, how many votes he got and what might be holding him back, we are unlikely ever to know.

As Lanny McDonald, the mustachioed former player for the Maple Leafs and Flames and chairman of the board of the Hockey Hall of Fame reminded everyone Monday during a conference call, sworn confidentiality rules bind the selection committee to discussing only the inductees.

They do not even like joking questions.

I know, I have attempted some humor in that area. Not accepted as funny.

The idea that selectors with Red Wings stamped on their NHL tickets, Scotty Bowman, Igor Larionov, Luc Robitaille or Colin Campbell, are going to break down and tell all over cocktails at some late night encounter in a hotel lobby bar is the stuff of film noir, not reality.

But we can certainly muse about some of the things holding back an eminently qualified candidate for induction, including the fact that others worthy also are waiting, and many already inducted had to do quite a bit of the same.

Strong Wings teams

One reason some in the media say they discount Osgood is that the Wings teams on which he played were so good.

The observation that anyone could play goaltender for those dominant Red Wings teams, inured by Bowman in the belief that defensive play was the key to winning Stanley Cups, was made even in those days.

Then, as now, it was wielded mostly by folks who seem to have a chip on their shoulders about all of that success.

Chris Osgood doesn’t receive call for Hall

Maybe that is an inclination that will force Osgood to wait a while.

Those powerful Wings teams, “the New York Yankees of the NHL,” spending all of the Ilitches’ dough on all those European players invading the league, were despised by many.

Did they have to be so damnably successful to boot?

Or maybe it is the old bugaboo about Osgood sometimes taking it a bit easy around the training room and, some thought, in other work habits.

On about Halloween 2001, the hockey world was filled with stories that the reason the Red Wings moved him to the Islanders was Bowman’s complaints in that regard, and even some statements from teammates that more than just Osgood’s personality that was laid back.

Bowman had doubts Osgood could be the highly-paid top hammer in net.

Different appraisals issued seven years later when Osgood’s brilliant play was measured by a 1.55 goals against average in relief of Dominik Hasek in the playoffs and a third Stanley Cup, the second as a starter, for the Red Wings.

Or maybe it was those strange bad goals that cropped up, occasionally, including three in the playoffs during the 1998 Stanley Cup run.

After sitting on the bench, in favor of Mike Vernon, during the successful playoff run the previous season, Osgood triumphed and the Wings won a consecutive cup — the last team to accomplish the feat.

But he let in some doozies!

Greg Adam’s fluttering shot went through Osgood’s wickets from 45 feet to lift the Stars over the Wings in Game 2 of the conference finals. Al MacInnis beat him from center ice in the previous series against the Blues.

And, Jeremy Roenick, another player waiting for that induction phone call from McDonald, beat him easily on a point shot for the Coyotes in the first round.

But inordinate resilience marks great goaltenders, and Osgood prevailed.

That should be the evidence of his performance provided by the 1998 playoffs, not the “softies.”

Two years of consideration by the selectors is not too much. In fact, it may be early in the process.

Osgood’s record, especially compared to the goalies most recently inducted, Hasek, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour and Grant Fuhr, stands him in good stead.

Osgood and his supporters among Red Wings fans got a pleasant reminder of that when the inductees were announced in Toronto on Monday.

Goalie Vachon honored

Another goaltender will go in, after 31 years of eligibility.

Rogatien “Rogie” Vachon, who played two less-than-outstanding seasons with the Wings late in his career, long after winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Canadiens his first three seasons, said he had given up.

“I want to thank the committee for thinking of me,” Vachon said. “It had been so long. After a while, you just don’t think of it anymore. But it’s an incredible surprise. I’m still in shock.

“To tell you the truth I sort of resigned myself that I don’t think it’s going to happen, after all of those years.”

If Osgood waits as long as Vachon, he will enter the Hall of Fame in 2045.

With the formidable Daniel Alfredsson and Teemu Selanne shoo-ins for 2017 and others still waiting and being added in future seasons, it may take some time.

But not as long as for Vachon.

gregg.krupa@detroitnews.com

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