While the 2021-22 regular season has been a challenging one for many players and teams, including Washington Capitals right wing TJ Oshie, the hockey that has been played has provided some notable anecdotes, particularly as it pertains to the Capitals and captain Alex Ovechkin. In an appearance on the Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast, Oshie talked The Great Eight, pre-game routines, Stanley Cup celebrations, and more.
“I mean, squad’s finding ways to get wins after everyone in the league seems like guys got injuries, or guys are out with Covid protocol, so hats off to a lot of the young guys who have stepped in and hats off to the big guns that keep this rolling”, said Oshie with a laugh when asked about the Capitals’ continued success despite the challenges.
The Caps’ pre-game, hype routines are among the most decorative in the league, and Oshie is one of the most-heavily involved, along with Ovechkin.
“I call them ‘O-bangers'”, Oshie said, of the various vocalizations emitted by the Capitals’ captain, “So that’s kind of our thing going back and forth, we do it like 10 times a day. Sometimes for me, it’s borderline violent because he’s a monster of a man. I’ve even caught him in the face a couple times with my helmet because my neck just can’t stay back when he hits me. It’s been a couple shoulder injuries for me, couple chest injuries, but it’s a fun ritual we do”.
When asked on the team’s “initiation” of new players to the team into the rituals, Oshie said:
“It really depends on the player. If it’s an older guy you usually work something out before you get going. If it’s a young guy you kind of just figure it out. Like Marty ]Martin Fehervary], I kind of went through the first time just gave him a little sack-wack, so that’s kind of what we do. It’s not as violent as Ovi and Johnny [John Carlson]…It’s insane how hard they hit each other in the cup. Because I’m right there and I’m the third guy out, and when they do it, I think the fans at the end of the tunnel can probably hear it. With the music on, the fans cheering, they can hear the sound of a cub basically breaking”.
On his close shave at home with son Campbell in which he slipped on his driveway:
“That was my little guy, that was a tough one. We have a gravel driveway, not like the tiny pebbles, they’re like big dogs. I went down on the knee pretty hard. I was actually going to Starbucks for the wife to start the day off right, to get on the good side, and it turns out I had to go to the rink to get stitches to the knee, it was pretty bad, what a loser”, Oshie said, laughing, “The little guy was laughing at me when we were on the ground too”.
After the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, Oshie became something of a legend when, during the Capitals’ post-victory celebrations, he famously pulled his shirt over his head and chugged a can of beer. During his visit to the podcast, Oshie revealed the origins of the famous celly as well as his affinity for occasionally mixing Guinness and wine.
“It’s not an every time thing, but we got a greenlight in preseason and stayed overnight in Carolina, and were just at this mom and pop Italian place, and there might have been a couple t-bones flying from table-to-table, and I decided to mix the wine and the Guinness and that’s kind of where the Hollow Man, that’s the first time I decided to do the Hollow Man for the fellas, pull the shirt over the head”.
The Capitals’ 35-year old forward also discussed his childhood, growing up in Everett, Washington and Warroad, Minnesota.
“I moved up [to Warroad] when I was 16, so I was there awhile. In between my freshman and sophomore year I moved to Minnesota. It was basically because hockey was getting so tough in Everett. My parents split up, my mom had me go back with her to her hometown, which was a small, dairy farm town. I was the only person in the whole school who had ever even skated before, definitely that played hockey. So I’d have to travel 45 minutes to my dad, then 45 minutes to the rink, and when you’re young those practices are like at 9:00 P.M. And so then you’d have to do it on the way back, so I’d get back at like 2 A.M.”. I have some roots on the Oshie side in Warroad, and went out there for a summer camp and loved it, and it was amazing. So me and my dad ended up making the move and my mom, brother, and sister stayed back in Washington and Minnesota has been home ever since”.
If one is an opposing plyer against TJ Oshie, being insulted is not something to worry about, as he revealed during his podcast appearance.
“I’m terrible at smack-talk, maybe the worst in the entire NHL at smack-talk”, Oshie admitted, “I have nothing. I don’t watch anyone, I don’t know who anyone is we play against, so I don’t have any dirt, I don’t look at their lineup. If we’re matching lines, I don’t know who we’re playing against unless they’re one of the big dogs in the league, I don’t have time to watch hockey…I probably couldn’t name 100 players in the NHL”.
Oshie played three years at the University of North Dakota from 2005-08 before going to professional hockey, and admitted that not playing a full, four years is a regret he has looking back.
“No, it was a pretty difficult call for me, and one that I probably regret”, admitted TJ when asked if the decision to leave school early was a hard call, “North Dakota was so awesome, everyone feels like a family there. You were talking about Chorns [former Capitals and North Dakota teammate Taylor Chorney], me and Chorns went three years there together, we both left there at the same time. He’d probably agree with me I think wish we would have gone back and gave it one more shot. But North Dakota they do a really good job of keeping guys together after you’re gone, we’ll have a golf tournament, there’ll be guys that played in the ’70’s, ’80’s, ’90’s, and 2000’s, up to guys that just finished their senior year and we’ll all be mixed together and it’s a blast. I regret going pro, at the time when you’re young and possibility of a big paycheck…I understand why I did it but looking back I wish I would have gone back for one more year”.
Oshie admitted that the trade to Washington rejuvenated his confidence, after beginning to lose it under former St. Louis Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, although he reiterated that his love for his time and the fans in St. Louis never wavered.
“I think in those years, I kind of lost a lot of my offensive creativity and my career slowly started to whittle away in confidence, and when I got traded to Washington, it was the exact opposite. They came up to me after 10 games and were like ‘Hey, we know you’re going to backcheck, try to make plays just do whatever you’re going to do out there’. It took me a good 45 games or a year, couple years to get that voice out of my head ‘don’t turn it over’. It was a big move for my career and just for me to just enjoy playing hockey”.
On Alex Ovechkin and being able to play with him on a daily basis:
“It really feels like you’re watching history in practice. There’s nothing I’ll ever see in my lifetime, like what I’m seeing right now and what I’ve seen over the years as far as being this close to greatness. I was pretty proud of being the guy who always, whatever you do, find a way to win things, could be throwing a tape ball into the trash can, just super, super competitive. And to get to see Ovi, and now I know how those other guys felt, because he just wins. On the ice, if he wants to score, he’s going to score, doesn’t matter what the other team does, it’s a treat, it’s awesome. It’s really fun to watch”.
On Tom Wilson and his growth as a player,:
“He brings so much to our team. The guy could probably play 30 minutes a night and not be tired he’s an animal. And it’s fun for me to see him get some offensive recognition for the things he brings to our team. He plays with Kuzy [Evgeny Kuznetsov] and ‘O’ [Ovechkin], and he clears a lot of space and gets a lot of loose pucks and maintains a lot of offense for those guys. But you don’t talk a lot about that because you got a guy chasing Gretzky in goals and you got Kuzy who can dance and skate like the wind, but it’s great to see his game evolve because he doesn’t even try to hit guys anymore because he’s too strong and going as fast as he can skate and he ends up catching guys in the wrong spot. But to see how much hatred he has, to see him have success and gets some points on the board…it’s great to see him flourish offensively and be just a great leader, it’s awesome to see”.
The full podcast can be listened to HERE. Oshie also dives into his performance in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Ovechkin’s pursuit of the all-time Goals record, gym exercises, and more.