On Thursday, Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie spoke to the media on a Zoom call following today’s practice prior to Friday’s home opener against the Buffalo Sabres. He discussed the recent news of four Capitals players on the NHL’s COVID-19-related absences list and how different tomorrow’s first game at Capital One Arena will be with no fans.
“We happen to be a team that is close and likes to spend time together,” Oshie said on the NHL fining the Capitals $100,000 for a violation involving social interactions among team members who were in close contact without wearing masks. An incident at the team hotel stemmed the fine, which led to captain Alex Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov being placed on the NHL’s COVID-19-related absences list Wednesday night.
Oshie said traveling with new protocols is “different”, but the team is “adjusting and trying to make the best of it.” He mentioned that “no one is used to it and comfortable wearing a mask all the time”, but noted they “have been reminded” about safety protocols and must abide by every rule. “The rules are right there. It’s pretty clear,” Oshie said.
“We know that those guys want to be here,” Oshie said on the absences of those players. “They want to be in the lineup and they feel terrible that they’re not and they put themselves in a situation that they’re not going to be playing with us. But for us, it’s a next-man-up mentality.”
Oshie said it’s “tough” having no fans and described the Capitals’ home opener against the Sabres on Friday will be “different”.”It won’t be the same without them,” Oshie said. He mentioned it takes “a lot more mental strength” and they will need to be “strong at home as a team”.
He noted the Capitals have a great fanbase. His message to fans: “We miss you as much as you miss us…hopefully we’ll see you soon.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2021
By Della Young