The emotions seemed to hit T.J. Oshie at that moment, skating back to the bench after securing his hat trick, flinging a long-range effort into the empty net. His teammates mobbed him in a group hug. Then Oshie sat, head down, tears in his eyes, the last few days coming into focus. Oshie’s dad, Tim, died this week. He was 56. But as a coach’s son, Oshie returned to the ice as soon as possible. And with his dad in mind, he guided the Washington Capitals past the New York Rangers with three goals Wednesday night, adding a different kind of emotion to a game that began with tempers flaring and fights galore.
When the final horn sounded, Oshie didn’t leap onto the ice with the rest of his teammates. And Nicklas Backstrom noticed. So Backstrom pulled Oshie into another hug, holding onto the winger, reminding Oshie that teammates and families are one and the same.
“I saw he got emotional there at the end, which was understandable,” Backstrom said. “I just felt like he needed a hug. I think I told him, like, ‘You’re the strongest person I know.’ I mean, first of all, it’s so impressive that he actually played today and how he led the way. I mean, it’s gotta be so tough. I can only imagine. We’re a family. We’re in this together. His loss is everyone’s loss.”
Oshie’s father, who was universally known as “Coach,” was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. That made travel difficult as the years went on, but Coach made it to Las Vegas for one special night: June 8, 2018.
That’s when the Capitals bested the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup Final in Game 5. After the contest, the coach was on the ice with Oshie, and he lifted the Cup alongside his son.
“What a great human being. What a great man. What a great father,” Oshie said after the game. “Some things slip his memory these days. But this one, I think this one’s going to be seared in there. I don’t think any disease is going to take this one away from him.”