The Weekend Interview: Chris Osgood

The first newspaper I read seriously and regularly was the Wall Street Journal. A test preparation company gave me a free print subscription, and I milked it as long as I could by doing things like stopping delivery when I was away, which had the effect of tacking more issues onto the end of the subscription. When it finally dried up, a friend on his way out at Dow Jones, the family driven organization that used to control the Journal before News Corp took over, lined me up with an online subscription, which carried me another year or so. By that time, newspaper websites were in full bloom, and a subscription really didn’t mean anything. When the family split and Rupert Murdoch took over, a digital lockdown followed closely on the heels of a substantial (if sometimes misguided) increase in content. No worry, though, as a free and easy workaround makes it simple to get behind the Journal’s paywall. All you have to do is…. Well, I don’t want my cell phone hacked, but, as Jimmy Cliff said, you can get it if you really want, and frankly, it isn’t even that tough.

Uh, hockey? Right. The WSJ has a regular feature called The Weekend Interview, a full-page study of one person, accompanied by an illustrated portrait by Ken Fallin. For reasons that make sense to me, Fallin inspired my photographic selection for this post, above. Because ALDLAND is neither the Journal nor The National Sports Daily, though, more often than not, the interviews are going to have to be imagined.

Chris Osgood is the right subject for this site’s first Weekend Interview. When the Detroit Red Wing goalie retired last month, my immediate reaction registered on the sadness side of the line. It wasn’t totally shocking, although I had thought he’d be around another year or two, especially given Captain Lidstrom’s decision to stay on. And Osgood is likeable, if not a perpetual fan favorite (but few goalies are). Osgood also is the type of player for whom the immediate hall of fame question is more than an element of the motions through which to go the media has obligated itself for every retiree; for him, it’s a real question, an interesting question, a debatable question, and possibly ridiculous that it is a question at all, and like Jim Gray, I promise I’ll promise you I’ll get to that question right away. Here goes…

AD: Thank you for joining me this morning, Chris. Can you tell me why you wanted to meet here, at a Tim Horton’s near your home in an undisclosed Canadian location, rather than somewhere fancy back in Hockeytown?

CO: You’re welcome. Well, I’m retired now, and this is where I live. People know me here, but they don’t bother me too much. I don’t have to perform for anybody here.

AD: Do you resent Hockeytown? Think you were mistreated there?

CO: No, I don’t. There were times in my career when I wished they’d shown me as much loyalty as I knew I had for them, but playing in St. Louis and Long Island was good for me. I know that I wouldn’t have been the player I was without all those years in Detroit. And they took me back. A lot of guys don’t get a second chance. [Red Wings GM] Ken Holland is a good man, smart man. He has a lot of pressure on him too. He wants to win. The fans want to win. I wanted to win, and I liked winning for Detroit.

AD: Three Stanley Cup championships, two as a starter; three All Star Games, one as a starter; two Jennings trophies. You really did win a lot.

CO: I shared one of those Jennings trophies with Mike Vernon, and the All Star Games, I had to sit one of them out because of injury, and the one I started, it was my coach [Mike Babcock] who named me the starter.

AD: But still. Tenth all-time in wins, career GAA of 2.45, a .905 save percentage, with both of those numbers measurably better in the playoffs [2.09, .916]. Are you a hall of famer, Chris?

CO: Most guys who get into the hall are in first when they retire, not tenth. I played better in the NHL playoffs than at any other point in my career, but I let in some soft goals. You remember those. Everybody does. I honestly don’t know if I’ll get into the hall. I’m proud of what I did. I know my effort and preparation.

AD: You don’t care?

CO: Don’t really think about it one way or the other. It’s up to other people what they want to think about me.

AD: You’re one of only five goalies to score a goal by shooting the puck directly into the opponent’s net [rather than being awarded one as a technicality as the last player to touch on an own goal]. What was that like?

CO: Something like this.

AD: Is Chris Osgood definitely retired? Or are we going to see you back on skates again?

CO: I’m definitely retired. You’ll see me on the ice, though, but only if you hang around here and my kids or the local kids want some help. They haven’t asked yet, though.

AD: As I was making up this interview, I noticed that your initials are the same as the recognized abbreviation for the state of Colorado.

CO: Yeah. I hate that place.

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