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By Dan Di Sciullo
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A good way to start a heated argument between passionate hockey fans is to mention Chris Osgood and the Hockey Hall of Fame in the same sentence.
Fittingly, before Osgood was even able to officially announce his retirement from professional hockey on Tuesday, a debate concerning the longtime Detroit goaltender's HoF credentials raged on the internet.
Of course, how one feels about Osgood's career probably has a great deal to do with where you rooting interests lie.
It's a safe bet that most Red Wings fans will think Osgood has done more than enough to punch his ticket to the hallowed grounds at Front and Yonge Streets in downtown Toronto. On the other hand, supporters of the Chicago Blackhawks or the Colorado Avalanche may find it difficult to keep from laughing when hearing Osgood's name mentioned as a potential Hall of Famer.
The problem is that so many people will always view Osgood's success as a product of Detroit's overall dominance for the better part of the last two decades. And while that's not an unfair take on Osgood's career (after all, he did have guys like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios skating in front of him during his years in Detroit), it probably won't be enough to keep him out of the Hall.
While Osgood, who played 14 of his 17 NHL seasons in Detroit, is certainly known more for his postseason success, he was also able to compile 401 regular- season victories over his career, placing him 10th on the league's all-time wins list. His 74 playoff victories also rank eighth in the NHL history books.
Nobody is ever going to confuse Osgood with Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur, but if Ed Belfour was recently named as a first-ballot inductee to the Hall of Fame, it seems reasonable that Osgood should get in at some point. The only difference being that, unlike Belfour, who won one Stanley Cup and finished his career with 484 wins, Osgood will likely have to wait longer than the three-year waiting period before getting tabbed by the selection committee.
As a fan, it's hard to deny that Osgood cast a fairly big shadow in the hockey world during his career. Even if you think he has lived a Forrest Gump-esque existence with a knack for being in the right place at the right time, there has to be some sort of acknowledgement of his record as a champion.
The 38-year old Osgood has battled injuries in recent years and could barely stay on the ice over the last two seasons, so his retirement announcement comes as no surprise.
It's also not at all shocking that Detroit has revealed that Osgood will remain with the organization to help with the development of young goalies in the Red Wings system. He has proven to be a good mentor to Jimmy Howard, Detroit's current No. 1 goaltender, so it's fitting that Osgood will be allowed to do the same for other potential goalies of the future.
Whether you think Osgood is overrated or underappreciated, the guy was able to put together a solid case for enshrinement during his career. Therefore it's best that we all get used to the phrase "Chris Osgood, Hockey Hall of Famer."