Oshie has endless list of thanks ahead of 1,000th NHL game

Ahead of his silver stick milestone, T.J. Oshie reflects on the countless people who have helped him achieve success and the lessons he’s passing down to his own children.

Oshie has endless list of thanks ahead of 1,000th NHL game

Feature photo: Getty Images

As he draws closer to adding his name to the list of NHL players who have skated in 1,000 NHL games, T.J. Oshie is busy working on a special list of his own.

The Washington Capitals forward, now playing in his 16th NHL season, has been busy planning something special, albeit not for himself, ahead of the upcoming milestone.

“I wanted to do something nice for the people who have been instrumental in me getting to 1,000 games,” Oshie told NHLPA.com.

“I started writing a list in the notes of my phone and I was like, ‘Holy cow! what kind of present could I get that would be meaningful for this many people?’ I started with a top 10, then it went to the top 15, and pretty soon, that number was 50, 75, and beyond. I don’t know how I am going to thank all these people.”

As it stands, the list includes two groups.

That won’t be the case for long.

“The teammates, that is a bond that keeps me coming back to the rink every day in a good mood. Guys here like Tom Wilson, Nick Backstrom, John Carlson and Ovi, or guys like Barret Jackman, Patrik Berglund and David Backes in St. Louis whether I played with them for a short or long time, the relationships at the rink are the one thing that will always stay with me and something I will always cherish the most.”

The second half of Oshie’s list extends beyond the locker room. Those who have helped contribute to his success, whether it be with the Capitals, during his seven years with the St. Louis Blues, or since his pre-NHL days, are the unsung heroes in Oshie’s eyes.

“With that, there are the people who don’t get any recognition at all. I look at the training staff these guys are my best friends. You will find me at a team dinner sometimes at the trainers’ table, hanging out with those boys. As much as we travel and play, sometimes with not a lot of sleep, those guys sleep only a third of that and put in a lot more work.

“Those are just two sections on my list. There are also coaches who pushed me the list goes on and on. There are family, friends, and even my friend’s parents who got me to tournaments when my parents couldn’t make it, and how instrumental they were in my career.”

Oshie’s identity, even before his time in the NHL, has never been about the pursuit of individual accolades.

It was an approach initially shaped by his mother, Tina, and father, Tim, who passed away in May 2021 after living with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

“My dad gets a lot of credit because of the father and son bond, but that comes from my mom as well.

“They always stressed even when I was a young kid that even if you received tournament MVP or come away from a game with a hat trick, they would point out moments in the game where they thought I was a good teammate or backchecked hard to prevent a goal.

“That was the way I was raised that those things were more important than individual success.”

The forward was drafted 24th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2005 NHL Draft before playing collegiate hockey with the University of North Dakota. He went on to make his NHL debut Oct. 10, 2008, recording his first point three days later.

Oshie reached 50 or more points on three occasions during his seven seasons with the Blues and netted 310 points (110 goals, 200 assists) in 443 games before he was traded to the Capitals ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.

In 2018, Oshie played a lead role in the Capitals playoff run with 21 points in 24 games. He posted two game-winning goals en route to the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history.

The forward has also made a memorable impact at the international level.

Memories from that moment came flooding back after the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF recently announced that NHL players would once again compete in the Olympics at the upcoming 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Italy.   

“The first memory from playing for the U.S. was maybe getting my hopes up in 2010 to make that team, not making it, looking at the list of names and understanding why I didn’t. That drove me to make the 2014 team.

“Getting on the team in 2014 was big for my family. The thought of me playing on Team USA was a dream for us. We love our country, so it was a super special moment for me and my family when it happened.

At the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in a preliminary-round game against Russia, Oshie, after the first three rounds of the shootout, was called on for the following five rounds and scored four times, including the game-winner.

“That shootout kind of changed my life. It still doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but the fact that I had all of Team USA and my teammates calling on me to keep going when I wasn’t a top 10 player on that team was amazing. To have my teammates push me out the door and tell me to keep going, that support meant a lot to me.”

Just as it did when Oshie scored the 300th goal of his NHL career this season on Feb. 17.

In his post-game speech in the locker room, he thanked his teammates and then requested a photo with Alex Ovechkin and Dylan Strome, who assisted on the tally.

“Everything I do is for you guys,” he said. “I wouldn’t be there without you. Thank you.”

Oshie plans to say thank you often on the night of his 1,000th game.

Until then, his focus will be on the games ahead of the milestone and giving more thought to his ever-expanding list.

The fact he will be adding his name to the list of NHL players who have reached the 1,000-game plateau is still difficult for Oshie to comprehend.

“I am a very in-the-moment person, which I have been told by my wife [Lauren] that can be a bad thing at times when she’s trying to plan things. I never thought about the years I would play, the number of games I don’t know what I would have said back when I first started.”

Sharing the moment with his family, Lauren and their children Lyla, Leni, Campbell and Lucy, will be one of the most treasured moments in his career.  

“It will be a special night for me, especially with the way the last few years have gone with injuries. In any sport, when you get older, injuries, whether you can play through them or not, become part of your career. I have had some things go on with my back that have prevented me from playing, but also from doing my everyday father duties. I have had days when picking up the baby seems like an impossible task.

“That takes its toll on your family, so playing in your 1,000th game, to share it with them … there is no way I would have been able to make it this far without that safe place away from the rink. Whether it’s the tough losses, a bad game, or even when you do score a hat trick, it keeps you level-headed when you have to wake up at six in the morning because the baby is crying.

“There is a solid balance with my life at the rink with the boys trying to win and being at home to be a good husband and father and raising our kids right.”

Which includes instilling the same team-first approach to sports Oshie learned from his parents.

“The only thing I love more than hockey and winning games is going to my kids’ sporting events. I try and implement the same methodology that my parents instilled in me. As long as they work hard and are good teammates, I don’t care if they score.

“Watching them play is my happy place. The happiest place you will find me is in my little fold-out chair and watching them play.”