- The Capitals had a summer filled with celebration and came back with a new coach looking to repeat as champions. T.J. Oshie discusses Todd Reirden's coaching style, Cup stands, celebrating with this dad and more.
With summer over and the NHL season underway, the quest for the Stanley Cup has started again.
Capitals winger T.J. Oshie is hoping to take his team to back-to-back titles after helping lead Washington to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history in June over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. While Oshie's focus is on the new season, he spoke with Sports Illustrated about his title celebrations, his day with the Cup and transitioning the team with a new head coach in Todd Reirden.
(Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed.)
Charlotte Carroll: For your partnership with M&Ms, fans could win a meet & greet. What does it mean to have the opportunity to interact with them?
TJ Oshie: It’s awesome for me cause when we’re out there on the ice or the practice rink here, there’s still the glass in the way. You don’t really get to interact. I just see how they feel how the seasons going, or maybe how long they’ve been a fan of the Caps or maybe when their first game was. The meet and greet is my favorite.
CC: What’s the most memorable fan experience you’ve had?
TO: There is a little girl here. We actually met through Make a Wish, I’m not positive if she was a fan of me or the team before. But she’s a big fan now, her name’s Abby, and we became friends over the last couple years. Just seeing her face light up. And she has her lucky earrings that she wears on game days and I see her at a bunch of Caps events now. That’s the best fan experience for me.
CC: You spent part of your day with the Cup where you spent your high school years, in Warroad, Minn. What was that like? Did it live up to how you imagined it?
TO: It was very special to me. Since I moved to Warroad, my dream if I ever won the Cup was to bring it back there so it worked out very well that I was able to get up there. So the first portion of my day, they declared July 24 as T.J. Oshie Day, which is something I guess you don’t even really dream of, it doesn’t seem like a possibility so you don’t even worry about it. That was really nice of Bob Marvin, the mayor, to do for me. And also to bring the Cup to the rink where I spent countless hours with my teammates. And then we took this thing we call a whip, which is a little route around the town that you do in your car just to kind of kill time when you’re in high school, so I was able to take the Stanley Cup for a whip in one of Bob Marvin’s classic cars that was actually FDR’s campaign car so it was a pretty amazing day when you think about all the things that came together for me, so I thank Warroad for how accommodating they were to have the Cup there.
CC: Are you going to go back next July 24 and celebrate your day?
TO: (Laughs) I think I have to. It’s a great excuse to get back up there. It’s hard traveling now with the two young girls, but July 24 is going to be on the calendar for a little while.
CC: After winning the Cup, you gave an emotional interview and talked about your father who has Alzheimer’s. What did it mean to share the win with your dad?
TO: It was very important for me and it was a special moment for us to share together. My dad was one of those dads that was always in the backyard playing with you. He’s usually always the guy that loses (laughs) when you play in the backyard to keep you happy. So it felt really like it did when I was a kid and we’d pretend that we won the Stanley Cup in the backyard. It felt the same except for with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, it made it that much more special that I was able to win a Stanley Cup while he can still comprehend and remember and enjoy the moment.
CC: On a lighter note, you went viral for chugging beer through your t-shirt, did you do some Cup stands too in the spirit of your teammates?
TO: The Cup stand was another good idea that I had. It was right before we went in the fountain so there was kind of an awkward time and there were fans all around us and we were just hanging out and celebrating and they were just chanting people’s names, so I’d figure, I don’t know, we’d do a Cup stand. It was kind of fun and cool that we had something that no one else had done before to have as our own thing.
CC: Would you say that’s the most bizarre thing you or your teammates did with the Cup this summer? Or is the rest off the record?
TO: We were pretty transparent with everything that we did, I feel like. That was, I don’t know, the whole celebration and just the way that we were all together through all the games and then together through the all celebration shows you how our mentality is and how good the bond is here in the Capitals organization.
CC: Has it been difficult to flip the switch and transition into a new season after such a long summer of celebration?
TO: I don’t think so. I think if anything it feels nice to get back out there with the fellas and start working our way to another Stanley Cup. After you get to this level and experience how fun it is winning and how rewarding it feels, it’s easier to get back in the weight room or get back to practice and start working toward that feeling because you never want to let it go.
CC: How’s the transition from coach Barry Trotz to Todd Reirden been?
TO: It’s been great. Reirds has been very good for us. His style of coaching is like a players coach but he says the right things when things need to be said, when we’re not playing well in a specific area of our game. He addresses it; he addresses it quickly and very direct. On the other side, he listens to what guys think. Maybe if it’s a day off or a day that we need to work a little harder or a day where we need to battle. He’s very good at reading those situations. It really has been fun coming to the rink every day. It should always be like that in hockey, but sometimes it gets to be a long season and with Reirds, I think he’s going to keep it fresh. So it’s been fun.
CC: In a recent interview, you said you don’t like watching a lot of hockey. Why is that?
TO: Ever since I was a kid, my dad, he’d watch a lot of sports—really all sports. I just remember I’d watch for about five minutes and then I’d rather go outside and play, and play that sport. My favorite thing to watch is golf. Even if it’s the Masters, if I watch for a couple of hours, I’ll end up grabbing the clubs and heading to the course and miss the second half of the broadcast. I would just always rather play the sport than watch it, so I tend to stay away from the sports on TV.
CC: Do you get people to watch golf with you, I know sometimes that can be hard to draw a crowd for on the TV since it’s a lot better in person.
TO: Yeah, the wife doesn’t really watch too much golf with me. I get lucky if my father-in-law swings by. Sometimes I’ll con one of my little girls into watching golf with me downstairs if they stay on the couch, they get a treat or whatever. It ends up working out for me. It’s all in good fun.
CC: Are they watching any other sports with you?
TO: My youngest Leni likes watching hockey. She thinks everyone is Papa on the screen. So I try to explain to her that I’m sitting next to her. But she still thinks everyone that’s on skates is me, so she might be a hockey watcher one day.