Before you start making accusations: Yes, Chris Osgood is my avatar. Yes, I'm a Red Wings fan. Yes, that means I'm biased. But I am trying to be fair.
And I do believe that Chris Osgood deserves to be in the hall of fame. Was he ever the best in the world at his position? No, but he was close (much closer, I think, than most people will give him credit for), and his numbers, his record and his longevity rank among the league's best.
Popular arguments against Osgood's induction usually include the following: 1) His stats were buoyed due to playing with great teams; 2) He underperformed while playing outside Detroit; 3) He does not have as many individual accolades (trophies, all-star selections, etc.) as some other great players; and 4) he doesn't pass the "eyeball test" of greatness.
Of these complaints, the first is historically irrelevant, the second is untrue, the third is not as big of a knock as some make it out to be, and the fourth is untestable.
The assertion that Osgood benefited while playing with great teams, while literally true, is an extremely short-sighted application of history.
Martin Brodeur played for great teams too. So did Ed Belfour. So did Patrick Roy. Grant Fuhr's HOF credentials were built on the backs of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and the Oilers dynasty of the 80s (and Osgood will STILL catch and pass him, possibly even within the next few weeks). Heck, Ken Dryden played only eight seasons TOTAL, all of them with the dominant Canadiens of the 70s, all of them when rapid expansion and cronyism from Original Six owners kept the overall level of play arguably the worst it had ever been in NHL history.
Great players have a tendency to play for great teams. Dominik Hasek will get in playing with mostly with the mediocre Sabres, and CuJo might get in despite his affinity for crappy squads, but these guys are the exception.
The assertion that Osgood played poorly when he left the Red Wings is a severe misrepresentation of history.
In his first year with the Isles, he was NHL player of the month in October and backstopped the team to a 44-point improvement (52 points and dead last in the NHL to 96 points, good for fifth in the East).
In his final year with the Blues (2003-2004), he helped keep the team afloat and make the playoffs, despite the fact that the team lost a whopping 62 goals of total offense (from 253 to 191 goals for) and Al MacInnis was on the shelf for all but 3 games than year.
As for the lack of individual accolades? Ron Francis, fourth-leading scorer in NHL history, was NEVER a post-season all-star. Yzerman only made the post-season all-star team once. Mike Gartner never won ANY individual awards or trophies, despite being one of six players in history to score at least 700 goals. Gerry Cheevers never won a Vezina award (which was then awarded using the same formula as the current Jennings Trophy, of which Osgood has won two), never made an NHL postseason all-star team (Ozzie made the second team in 1996), only played in one NHL all-star game (Osgood was named to three, playing in two), AND played his career while the NHL had from 6 (1966-67) to 21 (1979-80) teams; Osgood never played in a league with fewer than 26 teams -- meaning there more goalies competing with him for individual honors.
Was Osgood as great as Roy and Brodeur, who made a mockery of the all-time totals? No. Did he ever burn as bright as Dominik Hasek, a man who -- when at his peak -- made even Marty and St. Patrick look like amateurs? Absolutely not.
But the numbers speak for themselves. Tenth all time in regular season wins (and counting), eighth all time in playoff wins, fourth all time in playoff shutouts. 400 wins, 3 Stanley Cups (2 as starter). Career winning percentage of .629 for games in which he's been credited with the decision. Scored a goal.
Forget the name, and all the associations that go with it -- those ARE hall of fame numbers. Easily. Ozzie belongs in the Hall.