“If you would have asked me last summer [about being with St. Louis], I would have said that I was going to retire as a Blue,” said T.J. Oshie, the newest member of the Washington Capitals, “but [the trade] is the business side of things. Things change and I’m excited for my new start.”
To say the move from St. Louis to D.C. caught Oshie completely off guard wouldn’t be entirely correct. He had a feeling changes were coming after the Blues first round playoff exit. St. Louis made it clear the change wouldn’t be coming in terms of management or the head coach as both Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock were retained, despite calls for the latter’s exit.
The change had to come from the core group of players, and Oshie knew it, “… after I found out that [Hitchcock] was coming back, I figured there would be at least one or two moves that [Armstrong] would want to make.”
So why was he the sacrificial lamb?
A good guess would be his performance in the playoffs over his career. He’s a spectacular regular season player, but in 30 career playoff games over five years, he has 9 points total. Take this past season as an example. In the regular season, he had 19 goals and 36 assists. Yet, in the six games against Minnesota, he had 2 points.
(Yes, the Blues lack of post-season success isn’t all his fault. There are plenty of reasons, but he’s one of the faces of the team. He’s bound to take more of the blame; it’s just the way sports work.)
The forward was quick to put to bed the rumor of a rift in his relationship with Hitchcock. “I expected to big things out of myself. I think the fans did as well. There was a lot of disappointment after the way we lost out,” said Oshie, “I feel the media blew out of proportion the thing that I said about being refreshed after I missed because of the flu. So I think fans thought me and Hitch had a bad relationship or something like that, but you know, changes had to be made.”
Washington and true playoff success(es) have not been synonymous in the Alex Ovechkin era. The addition of Justin Williams helps the team in that area, and will lighten the some of the expectations of Oshie. (But not those of Ovechkin. He’s on his own.)
In the mean time, the new Cap looks forward to donning the red, white, and blue, again, and getting on the ice with some new linemates.
“I’ve always played with very good players; players that have played in the Olympics, but never players that have put up numbers like [Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom] have,” said Oshie. “To get out there with them would be amazing … I feel kind of like a kid in the candy store … playing with that caliber of player … I’m willing to come in and earn all the ice time I can get.”