Thursday, January 3, 2019

Oshie living the dream with family, now Cup winner

Former first round pick of St. Louis wonders what might have been, feels trade 
from Blues turned out to be a blessing being part of Capitals' first Stanley Cup

ST. LOUIS -- T.J. Oshie's life couldn't be better.

Well, maybe he would disagree, but being a family, married man of two girls and finally achieving the ultimate goal of an NHL player and winning that first Stanley Cup last summer, it's hard to picture the Blues' 2005 first-round pick (24th overall) having a better life than at the moment.
(file photo)
T.J. Oshie (74) during his younger days with the Blues. Oshie said he will 
always feel there was unfinished business in St. Louis after trade to Capitals.

Oshie and the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in six games to claim victory to their first Stanley Cup, and judging by the players' after-party of celebration, it was an everlasting moment, one none will ever forget.

"It's great, it's been fun," Oshie said Thursday ahead of the game between the Blues and Capitals at Enterprise Center. "Obviously we had a pretty fun year last year and this year, the team's feeling pretty good. It's a great place to play and great place to live."

And winning the Cup was everything Oshie thought it would be?

"It was more," said Oshie, who had a memorable moment with his dad Tim on the ice when the Capitals won it. "You think about just throwing your gloves and your helmet and celebrating with the guys on the ice and lifting the Cup over your head, it was so much more than that. Such a great bond with our team last year and all the events that come after that, the parade and your day with the Cup. It was surreal. It still kind of feels like a dream. I know we're a ways away when we won it, but it was really an unbelievable experience."

It's hard to believe that the young, blond-locked Oshie, who the Blues made a part of their centerpiece with David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk among the younger players they groomed.

But after another disappointing finish to a season in which the Blues fell to the Minnesota Wild in six games during the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2015, it was inevitable that change was coming, than an impact player was on the move.

Oshie turned into the fall guy at the time, and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong shipped him off to Washington for veteran forward Troy Brouwer, goalie prospect Pheonix Copley (Washington's current backup) and a 2016 third-round pick.

The move paid an immediate dividend for the Blues, who with Brouwer reached the Western Conference Final in Brouwer's only season here.

Oshie was stunned at the time. His life was here. His home was here. He got engaged to wife Lauren here. His oldest daughter, Lyla Grace, was born here, and the Mount Vernon, Washington native who grew up in Warroad Minnesota, Oshie was all set to make to make St. Louis a second home.

But it was time for a new life, a new leaf for Oshie, who's middle name is Leif.

However in looking back, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

"Yeah. I mean obviously I went from one really great group of guys to another, so it made it a lot easier for me," Oshie said. "This group that we have in here is so close and so fun to go through the grind of an 82-game season with and especially in the playoffs, but I feel we had that here as well. You'd do anything for the guy sitting next to you when I was in town. Obviously with a Cup now, I think it benefited me for sure. But I still think we were really close back then with the group we had and I think we would have won one if we had a couple more kicks at it."

And that unfinished business, Oshie said, will always stick with him.

"There's definitely some unfinished business, it feels like," he said. "It feels like when you're drafted here, and especially me, I was treated so well with the fan base and the organization and my teammates that I you feel like you wish you would have been a part of that first one (in St. Louis). Now I'm part of the first one in Washington. It's just such an amazing feeling that I think the fans here and players, that they deserve that. I feel like with the group that we had when I was here, we had the right group and it would have been fun to be together forever on a Cup team together, but I got a great group here now too, and we'll be together forever on that."

Oshie, who has 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 27 games this season and 480 points (198 goals, 282 assists) in 692 NHL games spanning 11 seasons, will play for the fourth time against the Blues tonight and still gets emotions when coming back to where it all began.

"For me, I feel a lot of love, a lot of great experiences here, a lot of really unbelievable people that I played with that helped out with the team," Oshie said. "I have friends around town. You know you miss it. You miss those friendships and those bonds, but I'm happy where I'm at right now.

"... I'm a little different now than I was when I was a young buck here. I feel like I still have that youthful energy left in me when I come to the rink every day. That side of me hasn't changed. I've got a beautiful young family now and a Stanley Cup on the belt, but a long ways to go."

Oshie's tenaciousness hasn't changed. He still brings that motor, that high-energy game that teammates feed off of. It's something he learned from many veterans here.

"I think it was kind of the things that the older guys instilled in me," Oshie said. "Big Walt [Keith Tkachuk], Jax [Barret Jackman], Danny Hinote was a big part even though he was only here for a year, playing with Paul Kariya, me and Berg Dog [Berglund] had a lot of good times together. It's really the things you learn from those guys, the little things away from the rink. Jax, I don't know if he ever played a game at 100 percent. You learn to try to mimic that and try to get some of that toughness of those older guys had back then."
(Washington Capitals photo)
T.J. Oshie celebrates winning his first Stanley Cup with Washington last
summer against Vegas.

There's no denying Oshie lived an active lifestyle in his younger days in St. Louis, but becoming a family man, gaining the maturity and finally winning have him a sense of being complete 

"A little more disciplined away from the rink, now older, still got to take care of my body a little bit more than when I was younger, but other than that, I try to approach every game setting an example with my effort and doing all the little things right, hoping that the goals and the assists kind of follow that," Oshie said. "I really never got the other way around, which I feel like is how I was here. I wished I'd do the little things first and kind of let the goals come to me. I'm trying to do that still and it seems to be working out OK for me."

"I feel like I'm a very similar player. Gosh I don't know, I switched up my training a little, and I think that's opened me up to some things I wasn't able to do when I was younger."

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