“This Will Be, For A Lot of Them, the First Time Seeing Me Live”: For Capitals’ T.J. Oshie, Playing the Seattle Kraken Will Be More Than Just Another Road Game

Screenshot: Washington Capitals

“It was a good day”, were just some of the words used after the morning skate today by Washington Capitals forward TJ Oshie, who will play his first game against the Seattle Kraken in his birth state when the Caps take on the Kraken tonight

Oshie, who was born in Everett, Washington (approximately just under an hour’s distance from Seattle) will be playing for the first time as a visitor to Climate Pledge Arena, with an injury holding him out of the Caps’ first visit to the NHL’s newest club last season.

Oshie lived in Washington until he was 15, when he moved to Warroad, Minnesota with his father Timothy “Coach” Oshie. For the 35-year old Oshie, the memories of his early days in hockey still come back as clear as ever.

“It’s great, the ice is actually really nice”, said Oshie, “I played when this was Key Arena back in the day in between period as a goalie actually, for my little brother’s team. Their goalie canceled last-minute so I played with my little brother’s team in between the [Western Hockey League’s Seattle] Thunderbirds game, in between the first and second period, so I haven’t been here since then.”

The stands will be filled tonight with many family members, old friends, teammates, and coaches among others who helped Oshie early in his hockey career. Despite the time that has passed, the early days are not lost on the veteran forward.

“It means a lot”, Oshie said on what the experience of playing as an NHL player in the place he began his career means, “There’s going to be a lot of people at the game tonight who were very influential on the beginning of my hockey journey, and whether it’s old teammates, old coaches, family members who traveled all over the place to watch me play. They don’t usually get a chance to come out to D.C. to watch me play, so this will be for a lot of them, the first time seeing me live and it’s going to be a great experience tonight.”

T.J.’s father Tim passed away in May 2021 after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, and many of the family members in attendance tonight he has not seen since a family celebration of “Coach’s” life.

“I haven’t seen some of them since my dad’s celebration of life a couple summers ago”, reflected Oshie. “So it’s nice to get here, I haven’t seen my grandparents either since then so I drove up there to Arlington, which is probably about an hour from here yesterday, so I was able to go see them. It was a good day…the rest of my family is in Everett, so I was in Everett yesterday for dinner.”

While Warroad may be where his hockey career truly took off, the love of the game was something that never changed for Oshie, who is the eighth of 14 total NHL players from Washington State to play in the NHL.

“I guess I started mostly at, we called it Snow King, in Linwood, and just kind of going to open skate. That was my first time ever, I remember the rink was so cold back then; I would just come up because my face was so cold, that was the only time I took any breaks but I remember those times, I remember at Olympic View Arena not far from here, a lot of really fun teams and a lot of friends on those teams, and my dad being on the bench, helping out coaching…”

Having often talked about the lack of real opportunities to play hockey in Washington (the reason for his moving to Warroad), the Kraken and org have made strides in growing the sport in the state and region with various initiatives.

“It’s kind of crazy”, said Oshie of being the Games Played leader (he will be playing in his 914th NHL game against Seattle) among Washington-born NHl players, “I felt like when I was younger, I was kind of a rink rat, so I would watch the older kids and there was players I would really look up to, that I was like ‘gosh, if I could just play like them one day’, so to be the Games Played leader from the state of Washington is surreal to me.”

“But I see what’s going in here with the Kraken’s Junior hockey, Seattle Junior hockey, which I think is a fabulous place for kids to learn especially kids that start playing hockey. They’re doing a great job so hopefully the area keeps growing and we can get that number from 14, keep on [going] up ’cause it’s such a great game and for how many players there were around here when I was playing, for the number to be that low is surprising. So hopefully the love of the game keeps spreading in the area and kids keep having the opportunity to take a path to the NHL or at least try and learn a lot of life lessons and have a lot of fun along the way.”

By Michael Fleetwood

 

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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