"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" Psalm 27:14
It was at about this time last year that Chris Osgood http://www.examiner.com/methodist-in-detroit/scenes-from-training-camp-part-i-an-autograph had hoped to have his 400th win. However, things did not turn out that way in the 2009-2010 season. The Red Wings, for the first time in a very long time, found themselves scratching and clawing for a playoff spot and rode the momentum of a rookie goalie in Jimmie Howard. Ozzie saw only a handful of starts between January and the playoffs. And so, he entered this season at 396 wins. However, that may have been the best thing for him as he spent time last summer preparing. In fact, with the unusually long summer because of an early playoff exit, Chris was able to get into a rigorous training routine and come more prepared than ever into the season. Chris was ready to put an exclamation point on an incredible career.
This was the third attempt to find 400 wins. The first two attempts found disappointing losses to Dallas and St. Louis. The Dallas loss was even more bitter because of a home crowd that was ready for the win. However, all of the build up and disappointment came to rest in the best way possible. In those two games, the team was giving everything they had to get this win for Ozzie, who was playing very well. But last night, it was Ozzie who stole a win by matching his career high in saves (46 saves on 49 shots). In the second period, Ozzie stopped every one of 23 shots. In a 20 minute period, that means that he faced, on average, more than a shot per minute. The Wings found a win with only 9 shots in each period of regulation and 3 shots in overtime, for a total of 30. You can read the details of the game at : http://redwings.nhl.com/club/recap.htm?id=2010020533&navid=DL|DET|home
So, what does this have to do with a Spiritual column? Simple, everyone has a dream and a milestone that seems, at times, impossible. Every person has desires and aspirations that are woven into their being. The realization of these gifts is as much a part of us as any physical feature. We feel that we were created to do or be something, but the road-map to that destination is not always clear. More frustrating than the destination can be the timeline. Our hopes and dreams can seem to fade as time marches on. However, it is important to step back and ask God for some help and insight. Many times our failures and setbacks serve as the platform for a greater success than we could ever imagine. For instance, would Osgood have been able to play as well as he did without the long summer to train? Would he be as sharp if he hadn't been getting more opportunities over the past weeks to get back into the game? Finally, would the victory be as sweet if it had been a gift from the team, and not a super-human "stand on your head" highway robbery of the highest scoring team in the NHL? Let's put it this way, If Goliath had only been 5'9", David's victory would have been just another fight.
For those not in the know, only 9 other goalies in the 93 year history of the NHL have reached the summit of 400, including Chris's idol Grant Fuhr who ended his hall of fame career with 403. (Please don't start making the commentary about that hurdle, let's enjoy 400 for a while....) When you find yourself in the top ten all-time of anything, there is no mistake that you've made it. Be sure that, after Osgood retires (no matter when that happens it will be too soon), his numbers will be at the top of the list. There will be no asterisks indicating how long it took or what had to happen, just the numbers that show one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game. What will stay in the minds of the fans is just how steady and humble this "Wizard of Oz" was, win or lose. He could shake off a bad goal and re-focus after an amazing save. On and off the ice, Ozzie's character would solidify a fan base that will always consider him an integral part of Detroit's success.
If you feel that your are stuck, keep moving. There is one certain thing that can keep you from your dreams, and that is giving up. If you go out and play valiantly in a losing effort, you can be sure that you are much more prepared to win the next time. There is no greater lesson we learn than by falling down and getting back up. We realize that the fall won't kill us, even though it hurts. The long road to our victory is shorter each day we walk it. For each of us, that means something different. Even on the Red Wings, there are many who can look to Osgood's accomplishment and be energized. Some of the greatest players in the game haven't achieved their lifelong dreams yet, and are digging in. Todd Bertuzzi http://www.examiner.com/methodist-in-detroit/on-a-wing-and-a-prayer has reinvented himself as an incredibly gifted defensive forward in order to hoist the Stanley Cup. Mike Modano http://www.examiner.com/methodist-in-detroit/mike-modano-returns-from-the-desert has traded in the star that has marked his Hall of Fame career for a Winged Wheel in order to lift his second. Every guy in that locker room is ready to see another dream come true for themselves, their families and every guy they share the ice with. Last night may have been a glimpse at what that will look like.
Be blessed this week. Be ready for some bumps and bruises, disappointments and disasters. They are as much a part of life as the victories and the celebrations, even more so. Each marathon has only one finish line, but many trials over many miles. Perhaps each of us can stand back and enjoy Chris Osgood's milestone, and remember it. It can be that boost that helps us turn away from our falls and look toward our dreams once again.