For the last two weeks now, Red Wings fans have been somewhat teased by rumors about their team signing a backup goalie for Jimmy Howard. The most prominent idea floating around for those two weeks has been that former Wing Ty Conklin will sign with the team, and the Wings have confirmed they have maintained contact with him.
The other prominent name concerning the Wings’ backup goalie situation has been veteran Chris Osgood, who has spent 14 of his 17 seasons with Detroit. Mounting questions over Osgood’s health during the past two seasons (he’s only played 34 games in that time span), seemed to point toward Conklin being the odds on favorite to get the job, but recent reports are now suggesting otherwise.
GM Ken Holland has scheduled a media conference call tomorrow at noon, to make a final statement about Osgood’s future with the team. The two met face-to-face over the weekend, no doubt talking about whether or not Ozzie could realistically be an effective backup for a whole season.
It was reported by Helene St. James at the Detroit Free Press, that the purpose of this conference call is to announce that Chris Osgood is indeed returning for one more year with the Red Wings. At this point, there has been no confirmation from Ken Holland, or anyone from the Wings’ camp that this is true, but it is certainly a distinct possibility.
A groin injury limited to Osgood to just 11 games last season, where he went 5-3-2 with a 2.77 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. Osgood suffered numerous setbacks during his recovery process, and as a result, hasn’t played in a game since early January.
Should this rumor about his return be true, it is a bit of a risk for Detroit. The team did resign Joey MacDonald to a two year deal on July 11th, but it remains to be seen whether he can be a viable backup over an extended period of time. Should the Wings lose Osgood to injury again in the upcoming season, it would make their net security much weaker.
Not meant as a knock on MacDonald, but the Wings brought him in again as a third-stringer. They want him to stabilize the roster in Grand Rapids, and mentor the younger goalies, McCollum and Pearce.
This is why Ty Conklin appeared to be the favorite. He’s reliable, hasn’t had recent injury problems, and can easily handle the workload the Wings would give him. In fact, he could probably handle more.
If health wasn’t an issue, bringing Osgood back would almost be a no brainer. When he’s healthy and on his game, he can be effective, and he has a great relationship with Jimmy Howard (not to mention he serves as Howard’s mentor). Ken Holland does have a soft spot for the sentimental picks from time to time, but he also doesn’t ever make moves that jeopardize the team’s success.
Holland said in an interview a couple of weeks ago, and I’m paraphrasing here, that just because Osgood says he’s healthy and wants to come back, doesn’t mean the job is his. Holland is going to make the decision that is best for the team, and if this Osgood rumor is true, Holland must really believe the cagy veteran is healthy enough for at least one more season.
All of these questions will be answered by noon tomorrow, and whether or not this rumor is true, one thing is for certain. The Red Wings and their fans will FINALLY know whether they can start saying goodbye to one of the best, and most respected players in the history of the organization.