Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


From Seth...

It was done quietly, but it was done without excuses, explanations, hype or any statement beyond one man's undeniably outstanding performance.

Osgood is Detroit's starting goalie.

It's about time.

When last Osgood was Detroit's starting netminder, it was the 2000-01 season. We traded Vernon (a good move, it turns out) after the 1997 cup and gave Ozzie the job. Osgood won a cup with us in 1997-98. We didn't win in spite of Ozzie. We didn't win solely because of Ozzie. We won with Ozzie. And in the following years, we lost with Ozzie too. Not because of. Just with.

The knock on him was that he wouldn't steal games. He'd stand on his head a few times, but didn't scare away opponents. Hasek did. He'd let in a soft goal once a week. Hasek wouldn't. Detroit was the best franchise in hockey. Goaltender is the most important position in hockey. It followed: we needed more than a guy you win or lose with. Hasek was a because.

When we acquired Dom in 2001, putting Osgood on waivers, Chris told the Free Press that he understood, but also predicted that at one point he'd be better than Hasek. He wasn't then. He wasn't in successive years in Long Island and St. Louis. He wasn't when he re-signed to be the backup netminder in Detroit. It was a realistic appraisal of his own talents -- perhaps one of the hardest things for any man to do. And as it turns out, he was dead on.

Osgood has been patient. We made a commitment to Dominick Hasek, but the Dominator is looking every bit of 42 years of age. Chris Osgood has been having a whopper of a season. Ozzie has been better than good. He's stolen half the games he's played. He's shut out opponents when he faced 12 shots, and kept opponents to 2 goals when he faced 40 shots, and become a rock wall when they've needed him most. He's had the best save percentage in the league in shootouts. He said when Hasek arrived 6 years ago that it was okay; his time would come.

He is 10-1-1 with a league-leading 1.66 goals-against average.

"Ozzie is getting us points," Babcock said.

I think it's come.

More importantly, Mike Babcock thinks it's come.

Think how rare this is. The guy has won a Stanley Cup, yet was shipped away when the organization upgraded. He came back after the lockout, for post-lockout money. He kept working, and when called upon did his job. In a time when a top forward bristles at moving back to the 2nd line, here's Osgood, waiting six years to take a job that was his -- to the pinnacle of success in that endeavor -- for three seasons. He had the humility and self-awareness to know that he needed to be better. He had the fortitude to stick it out, and the patience to wait for his coach to notice. And most importantly, perhaps, he had enough faith in the organization he would have had every right to spurn, that when his performance said so, he would have the starting job.

This is a rare man.

There was no ceremony. There was no long press conference, no annointment, no passing of the bar or official reprints of the team program issued. Osgood got his usual start against Columbus, and again kept the Wings in the game and earned them a point they didn't deserve. And Babcock named him the starter again for Calgary. Hasek's healthy. He's around. But Hasek simply isn't as good a goaltender right now as Chris Osgood. Chris waited as he was asked, and fulfilled his role. And when his performance said what it needed to say, it became Osgood's time.

There's nothing official. Hasek hasn't become the backup, and neither has Babcock promised Osgood he'll start the playoffs (if we make it, knock on wood). Right now, though, performance is speaking, and performance favors Osgood.

Here's to Ozzie, a class act, a fantastic player, and, at the moment, the starting goaltender for the best team in hockey.


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