My Red Wings-fan friends are still in disbelief -- Osgood? In a Wings sweater? Again? Are you kidding me?
In a rare moment when I defend a goaltender, and a mediocre-to-good one and that, I tell them Osgood signing is actually a pretty solid move for Ken Holland and Co. He came at the right terms -- one-year at $900,000 -- and fits nicely under the Wings' tight cap. But more than numbers, Osgood is coming home to Detroit. My friends point to the slappers from the blue line that routenily sailed past Osgood in the playoffs and the pucks that seemed to trickle down his shoulder, down his back and then over the blueline, all while he was watching.
His number in Detroit were respectable: 221 wins in 389 games, 30 shutouts and a 2.40 GAA. For a majority of the time, Osgood played with a team of all-stars and won the Stanley Cup with the Wings as a backup in 1997 and a starter in 1998. But he did the job. Not the stuff of Dominik Hasek, but Osgood isn't expected to be the savior of any team. He knows the ins-and-outs of the NHL schedule, can play a full season as the number one goaltender and has a wealth of playoff of experience.
Best of all, he's not scarred by a three-year absence from the Wings. He didn't sulk when he was waived in favor of Hasek. He's endured the pressure of playing in Hockeytown. His head is fresh and in the right place, unlike Curtis Joseph is has been toyed around with so much in Detroit. He's always been good friends with backup goaltender Manny Legace, and shouldn't have problems splitting duties if he doesn't assume the number one spot. Osgood wants to be a Wing. The Detroit News:
' "I'm thrilled about this," said Osgood, who was traveling Tuesday. "I really missed playing in Detroit. You don't realize what you had until you don't have it anymore." ...
Instead of being bitter, Osgood handled the situation gracefully and even then talked about returning someday.
"I really thought I would be back," he said. "It was fun to play on Long Island (with the Islanders) and St. Louis. But I always missed the atmosphere here. It's just different. You don't see it in a lot of cities." '
Osgood brings stability and fits the team for right now. This isn't a club spilling over in Hall of Fame talent anymore. It has a few big-name veterans -- Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Nicklas Lidstrom -- mixed with talented youngsters -- Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall. So remember the Osgood-Patrick Roy fights. Or the pleasure of knowing who will start in net on a nightly basis. I can almost here the chants of Oz-zie, Oz-zie now...
Other Wings fans are mad at the franchise for not lowering ticket prices after the lockout. Detroit Free Press columnist Mike Rosenberg tries to find the reason for the freeze:
Now the NHL has a salary cap of $39 million. So the Wings can't blame ticket prices on payroll anymore.
But Devellano says he can explain.
And in a way, he can.
The Wings bought out $15 million worth of contracts this summer. That money doesn't count against the cap, but obviously they still have to pay it. They have some time to pay, but figure $8 million in buyout money this season (including bonuses for previous contracts). So effectively, that bumps their payroll up to $47 million.
Then there is revenue sharing. In the old days, the NHL had a very complicated revenue-sharing system in which the Wings were obligated to think nice thoughts about the other teams. Now they have to pay actual money.
This year, Devellano said he expects the Wings to pay "$7-$10 million" in revenue sharing. That effectively bumps payroll up to $54-$57 million. It's not $78 million, but it's a lot closer than I realized when I wrote that the Wings should slash ticket prices almost in half.
Should this make Wings fans feel better? Hard to say. On the one hand, your organization does not appear to be filled with devious, lying, thieving weasels.
On the other hand, a big chunk of your money is going to ex-Wings and other teams.
And costs apparently will shrink by at least $20 million. After a year of neglect, shouldn't the fans get at least some of that?
Apparently for Wings fans, the new NHL costs as much as the old NHL. And incredibly, even though the Wings will pay half as much for the on-ice product, they still say they might lose money."
What Rosenberg failed to mention was the law of Econ 101: supply and demand. Demand for tickets is high in Hockeytown, why lower prices? Already with a season-ticket base of over 17,000 and a waiting list a mile long to get season tickets, the Wings won't hurt in that department. Joe Louis routenily sells out. Average-Joe tickets to most games are hard to come by, especially at face value. And even with the success of the Detroit Pistons and the rising popularity of the Tigers, the Wings are still the number one ticket in town. Even through the lockout, I saw more Wings stickers, flags and bumperstickers on the cars than Pistons, Tigers and Lions combined. News about the Wings makes the front page of the sports sections, if not the whole paper, almost daily. I understand the fans' pain with the high ticket costs in Detroit. It's hardly affordable to take a family to a game and even harder to find the tickets to do so. But that's econ for you. There's still plenty of hockey in town -- Michigan Wolverines, Michign State Spartans, Plymouth Whalers and college hockey tournaments -- to keep the thrifty hockey fan happy.