By Tom Worgo
T.J. Oshie plays with an abundance of energy, possesses exceptional speed, and has a free-flowing skating style. All that has helped him tremendously throughout his nine-year National Hockey League career with the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues.
A couple of other things jump out on his resume. The forward has been the line mate of Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin the past two seasons. And he’s an Olympic hero. Oshie helped beat Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics with four shootout goals.
The 30-year-old Oshie, who wears No. 77, ranked second on the team last season behind Ovechkin with a career-high 26 goals. Hockey has also helped Oshie, who is married with two children, experience America. He grew up on the Great Plains in North Dakota, broke into the NHL in the Midwest in St. Louis and now skates on the East Coast in Washington.
We recently sat down with him to talk about being an Olympic hero, his hockey influences, his energetic style of play, and what it’s like playing with Ovechkin.
You play with a lot of energy. How do you maintain that over an 82-game season?
It’s tough, especially as you get older. It’s just kind of the way that I am. I am a pretty high-energy guy. My coaches at North Dakota told me work ethic was a skill, too, and if you want to be well-rounded, you have to incorporate that into your game. I think it was already there, but it’s more important than you think.
Your coach at North Dakota, Dave Hakstol, now coaches the Philadelphia Flyers. Did he help you a lot in your career?
He was a very big influence on me. So was Cary Eades. He was my high school coach. He also coached at North Dakota and was my assistant coach there for three years. He had a very big impact on me. It was a time when you were kind of a young boy turning into a young man. He taught me a lot about respect and so did Hakstol.
When did your family realize you had real shot at the NHL?
My parents knew before I did. There would be pro scouts at some of my high school games, but I wouldn’t think much of it. People who know me say that I live very much in the present. I am always focused on the now. Even when I got drafted, I didn’t even know what it meant. I was just always looking forward to high school hockey, then college.
Was the highlight of your career scoring those shootout goals against Russia? What could top it?
It’s the most memorable. Being able to help out and win that game is something I will never forget. Winning the state tournament in my senior year in high school was a pretty big moment for me. That’s something I will never forget. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of very good memories in hockey. I’m not sure what would top those, but maybe a Stanley Cup would top it. If we went on to win the gold medal in the Olympics, I don’t think that would have been topped.
Photo courtesy \of Washington Capitals Photography
Does playing with Ovechkin have its benefits?
I have played with a lot of very good players, but I’ve never played with an Alexander Ovechkin. He is the best goal scorer of my era, and not many people get the chance to play with him. He draws so much attention. The things that open up on the ice with him are different than what I’ve seen in the past. Offensively, I think I get more chances than I’ve ever had.
Would you like to spend the rest of your career in Washington?
I would love to. I know my wife would love to. We have created some pretty good friends here. The organization is first class and I feel there is a winning atmosphere here even though a Stanley Cup hasn’t been won. You just have a feeling that one is coming. But you never know what can happen. I will be the first one to tell you. I got traded. With free agency, you get to pick where you want to go and this is where I want to be.
What do you want to do after your hockey career is over?
I have always thought I would want to coach. I think I still do especially after playing for a while now. I think I have a pretty good feel on being a coach, but I don’t know at what level. I don’t know if I would ever want to be a head coach. My dream has kind of been to go back to North Dakota and coach there. We will see what happens.
Where is your main residence now? Where do you want to settle in the long-term?
Minnesota is my main residence. I want to settle in there. I think it’s a great place to raise your family. The mentality is “Minnesota nice.” That’s how I want my kids to grow up. The people there are awesome and they are great to be around.