Goaltenders And The Hockey Hall of Fame: Not Just About The Numbers

By Patrick Hoffman

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, played a big part in helping his/her team win a championship.

The Hockey Hall of Fame (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 the masked men of hockey. In our sport, the netminder is one of, if not the most, important position as it used to be that teams won and lost games and championships with their guy between the pipes.

That outlook has changed over the last decade or so. There have been more defensive schemes and shot blocking has become more and more prevalent in the league. 

One goaltender that has been a victim of this is Detroit Red Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood. Many thought that Osgood would be going into Hockey's Hall this year, but unfortunately for him and his supporters, that is not happening.

There is no doubt that Osgood has an impressive resume. He won three Stanley Cups (two as the starting goaltender of the Red Wings in 1998 and 2008), racked up 401 career regular-season wins, sealed 74 postseason victories, had a very respectable 2.49 career goals-against average, and notched 50 career shutouts.

On paper, Osgood’s numbers indicate that he really should be HHOF. However, many argue that Osgood’s success was the product of the great play of his team in front of him. The Wings played sound defensively and had a high-octane offence.

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 a few years ago.

More than likely, what the selection committee will look at is the fact that he Joseph never won hockey's Holy Grail, is a dubious second in terms of the most career losses (352) and played for a plethora of teams. Joseph’s statistics should put him in the HHOF, but not having a Cup certainly hurts his chances.

Selecting goaltenders to be inducted into the HHOF is not as easy as one might think. It’s not just about the numbers anymore.

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.