Red Wings sending a message by sending Osgood home

There was a great "SNL" sketch when Tom Brady was the guest host which showed how creepy stalker talk from an awkward dude in the office (a little NSFW) sounds like suave flirtation when delivered by someone who looks like Tom Brady (if that's what you're into).

We're reminded of that sketch today upon hearing the news that Chris Osgood has been shut down by the Detroit Red Wings for fine tuning, with Jimmy Howard getting called up from the AHL to back up Ty Conklin.

Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey sends Alexei Kovalev home because he's been a terrible disappointment, and it sets off a firestorm.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland sends Chris Osgood home because he's been a terrible disappointment, and it seems like just another genius move from what's considered the gold-standard for NHL front offices. Go figure.

What the Red Wings have done is give the guy who helped win them a Stanley Cup last season two clear messages:

1. You're our guy.

2. But seriously, enough is enough, and this is your last best chance to keep your job.

From Coach Mike Babcock in the Detroit News:

"I don't know if we're sending any message," coach Mike Babcock said. "To me, it hasn't been going very well for him (Osgood). You have to dig in and help yourself and that's the stage he's at. We're all the same. Sometimes when you realize how important it is to you, you have to bear down. We still have a significant amount of games left. He won the Cup for us last year, he's won two Cups. We think he has it in him."

Babcock hinted the No. 1 job is undecided right now.

"I have a guy that we would like to (be the No. 1) but it's not about what I like," Babcock said. "It's about what happens. ... We've shown a light on this by doing this, but we'll find out who is up to the challenge."

None of this should be seen as a slight to Ty Conklin, who's been great for the Wings. This is a moment of unabashed loyalty to a veteran player who's earned it, despite his struggles this season. (Which, again, brings the entire situation in unique juxtaposition with the Gainey/Kovalev benching; why does one feel like loyalty and the other feel like extreme scape-goating and threatening?)

Earlier this season, some Wings fans were downplaying the entire goalie controversy, but it's now become a rather furious point of contention. It's like that dopey book that had half the readers wearing T-shirts in the hopes the girl ended up with the werewolf and the other half hoping it was the vampire. (We refused to read the series because of its complete lack of pop-up elements and/or dinosaurs.)

On Team Ozzie, there's Matt from On The Wings:

No. This does not mean Osgood is effectively done. It means the Wings want a look at Jimmy and this happens to be a convenient time to get it. Osgood's troubles provide an excuse to call Jimmy up, not a problem to which Howard is the solution.

On Team ConkBlock, there's The Chief:

The most frustrating thing about it is that his demise, and it's been drastic and obvious, can't be blamed on anything too significantly physical.  Yes.  We know there's been a groin thing and, I believe, a wrist thing.

But by all accounts, this disaster of a season for Osgood has been due to some sort of ailment above the shoulders.  And that's hard for us to handle. We've never been easy on mental instability here. You know that Matt.  And that's what this is. Somehow, of all the Wings, Osgood has let the Cup hangover affect him the most.

So we blast him and we worry.  We worry because we don't know what to expect of Ty Conklin.  Good god, it's our worst fear.  Give our Conk a chance only to see it fail when success would mean so much to so many. 

We called it a goaltending controversy earlier in the piece, and that might not be the right word; "conundrum" might be better. It's fairly clear the Wings aren't going to seek out a big-name veteran goalie at the deadline. It's either Conklin's team until he falters, or it's Osgood's team as it steams into the postseason. And it's on Osgood, rather than coaches or GM or fans, to decide which way it's going to go.

As we said in an earlier Osgood piece: "The Wings could be a stronger team with a steady ConkBlock getting the nod, and having a Stanley Cup-winning goalie in the bullpen." Ten days away from the rink isn't a cure-all; this scenario may very well be what plays out for Detroit.

But here's the thing: What if Osgood comes back in playoff form, and Kovalev scores 10 points in his next five games?

Original thought is a rather scarce commodity in the NHL; how long before the other 28 teams start "sending home" struggling veterans for rewiring?

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