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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ozzie wanted to stay in Detroit

DETROIT -- Chris Osgood's play this season had him in a strong position to test free agency this summer. With a league-low goals-against average, a save percentage that bounces between best and second-best in the league and a 19-2-1 record, Osgood is an agent's dream.
But free agency wasn't Osgood's plan. Being a Red Wing was.
So on Wednesday, the Red Wings announced that Osgood signed a three-year contract extension worth about $1.5 million per season, making it a good possibility that Osgood will be a Red Wing through the 2010-11 season.
"I didn't talk to my agent once about going anywhere else," said Osgood, 35. "I always knew that I was going to be here. I started here and I want to finish here. That was more or less the game plan going into it.
"I don't know how much I'm going to be playing next year or the year after. I could be playing with Dom (Hasek) next year. I could be playing with Jimmy Howard. I could be playing with somebody else. I could be apprenticing Jimmy Howard until I'm done. To me, it doesn't matter. I just want to finish here. I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I'll play 30 games. I'll play 60 games. I'll give it my all right to the very end of the contract. If that's to help Jimmy Howard along like Mike Vernon and guys have done for me in the past, that's fine. I just want to be here."
That sentiment holds true for a lot of players.
Nicklas Lidstrom signed a two-year extension during this season. Kris Draper signed a three-year extension this season.
In fact, Detroit's past will be part of its future for many seasons. Of the 10 players who are signed through the 2009-10 season, five were with the franchise for the 1997 Stanley Cup -- Osgood, Draper, Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom.
"That's one of the reasons that we've had so much success," said Lidstrom. "We've had a lot of a core group of players who have been around for a long time. Management believes that as well. That's why they keep signing players midseason instead of waiting until end of the year. You never know what could happen when July 1 rolls around. That's why they locked up players early."
What's now going to happen around July 1 is that a decision will be made on goaltending for the Red Wings next season. The signing of Osgood clears up one half of the picture. The other half will remain murky until the summer.
"I have no indication what Dom wants to do," said Lidstrom. "I don't think he knows either. We're happy where we're at right now, but we're all going to have to wait until summer to see what Dom wants to do."
Hasek, who turns 43 on Jan. 29, said that he won't determine his plans until this season is over.
"It depends how I feel emotionally," said Hasek. "If I feel the fire's in me, I want to play, I will come back and talk about it. If I don't feel I have fire enough to play one more season, there's no reason to play."
The other part of the equation is Jimmy Howard. The 23-year-old has taken another step forward this season, playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. He was named the AHL's goalie of the month for December and has a good chance to play in that circuit's all-star game.
Neither Howard nor Hasek are signed for next season. Howard will be a restricted free agent. Hasek will be unrestricted.
As far as the entire Detroit roster, Osgood's signing means that 16 of the 23 players who have been on the roster all season are locked up for at least next winter. In addition to Hasek, the unrestricted free agents will be defensemen Andreas Lilja and Chris Chelios and forwards Dan Cleary, Dallas Drake and Aaron Downey. The lone restricted free agent will be forward Valtteri Filppula.


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