Las Vegas (AFP) – Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie wanted his first Stanley Cup title to be a family affair.
Winning the Stanley Cup is every NHL player’s dream but for Oshie there was extra special meaning after the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 to claim their first title in franchise history.
Amid the jubilant post-game celebrations on the ice at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, a tearful Oshie politely excused himself from interviewers to search for his father, Tim, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
“You’re gonna make me cry really now,” an emotional Oshie said moments earlier when asked about his family. “My dad’s in the crowd. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“Yeah, my dad — oh boy — he doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days. He remembers enough. But I’ll tell you what, he’s here tonight, I don’t know where he’s at, but this one will stick with him forever. You can guarantee that.”
Oshie, 31, said he is dedicating the victory to his dad and two daughters.
“This win …. it’s gonna be for my family, for my two little girls. I got my name on something (the Stanley Cup), so they’ll know that Dad played hockey growing up.”
The evolution of Oshie as a hockey player has been nothing short of remarkable.
Most people remember him as the guy who scored on four of six shootout attempts for the USA against the Russian national team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
But his career has taken off since then. He has gone from Olympic dangle hero to premier power forward and he made his mark in these playoffs, finishing with eight goals and 21 points in 24 games.
For proof look no further than the way he manhandled Colin Miller in the third period of game four in Washington, running into him twice and breaking the nose of the Vegas defenceman in one of those collisions.
Throughout the finals, Oshie has been just too strong and skilled for the Golden Knights defencemen to handle.
“I have known (him) for a long time, before I played in this league. Obviously he has the skill but I look up to him because of how hard he works,” said teammate Devante Smith-Pelly.
Oshie said he likes the role that Capitals have given him and takes comfort in knowing that his teammates are there to back him up.
“The game has gotten a little more faster, a little more skilled,” he said.
“I come to the rink every day and give it my all and try to set an example.
“My numbers have improved but the effort is the same. It is just different circumstances. You find a place where you really mesh. I play with some pretty amazing players that can get the puck to me.”
– Shootout hero –
Before these playoffs he was known best for his Sochi Olympic shootout prowess. Coach Dan Bylsma kept going back to Oshie repeatedly in the shootout and it paid off with a 3-2 USA victory over the Russian hosts.
At the time Bylsma joked that at one point in the marathon shootout he looked down the bench and couldn’t find Oshie who it turns out was sitting with the defenceman at the far end of the bench.
Some thought Oshie was trying to hide from the coach but Oshie said Thursday that he simply looked for the nearest entry because he was exhausted.
“I just sat there to rest,” Oshie said. “I was more tired than anything else and it was the closest door.
“I knew I was going (to shoot) every time.”