Tough to Figure Out: Goaltenders and the Hockey Hall of Fame
When one thinks of hall of fame caliber players in any professional sport, one usually thinks of an athlete that has outstanding numbers, a plethora of personal awards, having played a big part in helping his/her team win a championship as well as a few other factors.
The HHOF seems to be a different kind of animal. Over the past few years, there have been many debates about which players/personalities should be in, which players/personalities should not be in and what exactly the criteria for inducting someone into the hockey’s hallowed hall should be.
This is especially true when it comes to netminders. In hockey, the goaltender is one of, if not the most, important positions in the sport as it used to be that teams won and lost games/Stanley Cups with their netminder.
That outlook has changed over the last decade or so as more defensive schemes have been developed and shot blocking has become more and more prevalent in the league. One goaltender that could end up being a victim of this is Detroit Red Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood.
There is no doubt that Osgood has quite an impressive resume. He won three Stanley Cups (two as the starting goaltender of the Red Wings in 1998 and 2008), has over 400 career regular season wins (401), has 74 career wins in the postseason, a very respectable 2.49 career GAA (goals against average), and 50 career shutouts.
On paper, that looks like a lock to get into the Hall of Fame. However, many will make the argument that Osgood’s success was simply the product of the great play of his team in front of him as they played sound defensively and had a high-octane offense.
Speaking of having over 400 career wins, former St. Louis Blues’, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs’, Detroit Red Wings’, Calgary Flames’ and Phoenix Coyotes’ netminder Curtis Joseph has 454 of them. On the all-time list, that puts Joseph fourth behind the likes of Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, and Ed Belfour, who was inducted in 2011.
More than likely, what the selection committee will look at is the fact that he did not win a Cup, is second in terms of the most career losses (352) and played for a plethora of different teams. His statistics should put him in the HHOF but not having a Cup will certainly hurt his chances.
One goaltender that won multiple Cups, won a Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder (shared with Gump Worsley in 1968), played in three All-Star Games and has over 300 career wins (normally considered a bench-mark for Hall-of-Fame goaltenders) with 355 and is still not in the HHOF is Rogie Vachon.