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‘The Ultimate Teammate’: How T.J. Oshie Cemented His Caps Legacy

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The 34-year-old’s leadership, energy and overall presence will be vital as Washington seeks a deep playoff run.

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

T.J. Oshie has become something of a trademark for the Washington Capitals.

Since being acquired from the St. Louis Blues back in 2015, Oshie has made his presence known with his leadership, bursts of energy, odd pre-game rituals and love for “Country Roads.” However, beyond his fun-loving attitude, it’s also his willingness to say yes and do what’s best for the team that’s made him a key piece to the puzzle in D.C.

“T.J. is whatever you ask, whatever it takes. There is never a ‘yeah but’ or ‘I can’t or ‘are you sure?’ It’s always ‘yep, no problem’... That’s the ultimate teammate,” head coach Peter Laviolette said.

The 34-year-old has done what he can in to make his mark on the organisation both on and off the ice. Through 413 regular season games with the Caps, Oshie ranks fifth in team scoring with 150 goals and 300 points while averaging .73 points-per-game.

“You look at him and he’s one of the leaders in the room,” Laviolette said. “There’s a veteran presence in this room that drives this team, and he’s a part of that.”

Through the 2020-21 campaign, Oshie led the team in power-play goals (18) and finished only behind Alex Ovechkin in goals (22), while also ranking third on the team in scoring (43 points) through 51 games. To open the postseason, he had an immediate impact with two assists, including the primary helper on the OT winner that gave Washington the 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins.

“[I enjoy] the pressure, the anxiety, everything that comes with every play being important,” Oshie said of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “You don’t get that feeling during the regular season... every play, every shot is important and could be something that helps decide the game.”

However, the end of the regular season was by no means easy for Oshie. His father and coach, Tim, passed away in early May after battling Alzheimer’s Disease since 2012. Then when he returned (scoring a hat trick in his first game back), Oshie found himself sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Despite everything, Oshie’s doing what he can to stay positive and said that win over the Rangers and the support of his family and teammates — who will be wearing “Coach” stickers in memory of his father for the duration of their playoff run — has been instrumental in helping him cope.

“I typically call my dad on game days on my way to the rink every day. That’s kind of my schedule and way to stay in contact and let him know we were playing that night and chat a little bit. I’ve been calling my mom lately, she appreciates that, it’s [settling in] a little bit,” Oshie said, adding, “It’s always in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about Coach. I'm very lucky that I have such a good support system to get through these times.”

Going forward, Oshie faces a tall task to open the postseason, as he shifts off the wing and into the center position to fill in for an absent Evgeny Kuznetsov, who’s working to draw back in after coming off the COVID-19 list.

That versatility and ability to step outside his comfort zone, however, is just another example of Oshie’s value that speaks volumes as the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken looms.

“He’s able to adjust and adapt... he’s smart, a real smart player, and I think to [jump from wing to center] says a lot about his hockey IQ,” Laviolette said.

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Oshie’s registered a face-off percentage of 48.2 over his tenure with the Caps and is ready to continue to take on whatever role is necessary to “get the job done” as he continues to cement his Capitals legacy.

“I’ve always paid attention to what guys are supposed to do in certain situations... I feel like that’s part of being a student of the game,” Oshie said. “I’ve been in the game a long enough time, there’s just different responsibilities and I feel like I have those in my game. I’m happy to fill in the hole while we need it.”