Osgood realizes dream to own junior team

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit – Chris Osgood, who won three Stanley Cups as a goalie for the Red Wings before retiring to broadcasting, is joining the ownership of the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League as a partner.

“This is a dream of mine to be involved in the Canadian Hockey League and junior hockey.” said Osgood, of the larger league to which the OHL is a subsidiary.

“When I was scouting for the Red Wings I spent quite a bit of time here in Saginaw and what I noticed is the fans are very passionate about hockey and we have to start winning some more games than we have in the past,” he said.

“We need to get this community excited about hockey again and we truly believe with who we have brought on board, we can bring this team to the next level.”

Jim Devellano, the senior vice-president of the Red Wings who managed the renaissance of the franchise beginning in the 1980s, became part of the ownership of the Spirit last week.

Osgood, who will continue on the Fox Sports Detroit broadcasts, is 10th in career wins for a goalie, at 401. He played 17 years in the NHL.

A native of Peace River, Alberta, the 43-year-old Osgood has said he is enjoying the television roles of studio analyst and color commentator and he has discouraged the notion he would ever enter coaching.

“It’s fun,” Osgood said, in a recent interview. “It’s one of those things when people say, there’s more to it than you think.”

The OHL is one of the premier junior hockey leagues in Canada, and the source of a wealth of NHL players for generations.

Osgood is investing in a franchise that is well-promoted throughout the mid-Lower Peninsula, and is among the league leaders in attendance.

Dick Garber, an automobile dealer, brought the franchise to Saginaw for the 2001-02 season. The longtime OHL franchise was located in North Bay, Ontario, beginning in 1976. It was called the Centennials.

Its roots are in the hockey-playing town near Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Ontario, where it was known from 1943 to 1976 as the Falcons, Teepees and Black Hawks.

The Teepees won the OHL championship, the Memorial Cup in 1954 and 1960.

The franchise moved to Niagara Falls, as the Flyers, in 1982.

After three fallow seasons in Saginaw, it made the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, it won its first playoff series, in Saginaw, with a sweep of Guelph.

In making the announcement, Garber said that Osgood and Craig Goslin, the managing partner of the Spirit, are friends.

“We were very excited when he demonstrated an interest to become a partner with the hockey club,” Garber said.

The Spirit also announced the addition of local businessman Brandon Bordeaux, chief executive officer of Caravan Facilities Management, in Saginaw, as another addition to the ownership group.

Hronek on the blue line

The Spirit also are taking on an important project for the Wings, who continue to look for some offensive push from their defense heading into a fifth season with Nicklas Lidstrom and a sixth without Brian Rafalski.

It was announced last week that Filip Hronek, 18, selected in the second round of the 2016 draft will begin playing along the blue line this season for Saginaw.

“He is an extremely talented offensive defenseman that will be a critical core piece of our team for this season,” Spirit GM Dave Drinkill said. “Filip has the ability and skill set to be an elite player in the OHL, and we are going to do whatever we can to make sure that he maximizes his potential while spending the season in Saginaw.

“I know that his end goal like most players is to play in the NHL, and after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, it is the perfect scenario for everyone involved.”

Wings extend affiliation

The Wings and their secondary minor league franchise, the Toledo Walleye of the East Coast Hockey League, extended their affiliation, it was announced Tuesday.

Assistant GM Ryan Martin said the Walleye is prized for the development of more NHL players.

Luke Glendening and Petr Mrazek are among the current Red Wings who logged time in Toledo, a city with a professional hockey history for 70 years.

“In today’s NHL, where player development is of paramount importance to both the NHL and AHL clubs, the Walleye represent everything an NHL organization looks for in an affiliate relationship – a great coaching staff, a premier facility, elite business operations, and a passionate fan base,” Martin said.

“Toledo is an integral part of our player development model and has been a perfect fit for both the Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins.

“The Red Wings are very appreciative of the support we receive in the Toledo community, and we will continue to focus our efforts on assisting the Walleye in icing an exciting team that can compete for a championship each year.”