T.J. Oshie on 2022 Olympics, playing with Zdeno Chara

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Capitals have started the 2020-21 NHL season strong. Through three games they have five points and were nearly perfect if not for a shootout loss to the Penguins.

Since their Stanley Cup title in 2018, the playoffs, however, have not been good to them. They were ousted in the First Round the last two postseason — first by the Hurricanes in 2019, and then last summer by the Islanders.

Now in his sixth season with the Capitals, T.J. Oshie has seen the team rise into champions, and deal with bumps along the way. With Peter Laviolette behind the bench now and their Cup window still open, the veteran forward sees a path back to the franchise’s championship winning ways.

“There’s a certain way I think a championship team carries themselves and we got away from that,” Oshie said. “I think you don’t focus a lot on mistakes. You don’t let things weigh you down. You just keep pushing forward. And I think the last couple years we’ve let some stuff get to us and take away from how good of a team we are. And it’s time for us to refocus, if we want to get back to the top and really get everyone all in. 

[COVERAGE OF PENGUINS-CAPITALS BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

“When we won, I think you can look at every team that made playoffs. And we probably weren’t the most skilled or the fastest, but we had everyone all in and that’s what we need this year.”

Oshie took questions from NHL TV rightsholders before the season began. Here are his thoughts on watching Alex Ovechkin’s goal quest, playing with Zdeno Chara, and the 2022 Olympics.

Enjoy.

Q. What has it been like having a front row seat to Alex Ovechkin skyrocketing up the all-time goals list? 

OSHIE: “Well, I tell O, probably once a week, that I can’t wait to tell my grandkids that I played with the big man. So it’s been unbelievable. His ability to stay at the top as far as a pure goal scorer and constantly wowing the crowd. I’m sure even when we’re only on TV, when O gets the puck out there, people are standing up off their couch and you don’t want to miss a moment of it. And it’s the same for us on the bench or on the ice with him. So, it really has been a pleasure and an honor to see him not only score all these goals and go up all these ranks, but grow as a leader, as a person, as a player. It’s been an honor.”

Q. What about the opportunity to play with a legend like Zdeno Chara? 

OSHIE: “Probably as big as he’s going to be, it’s going to be real awesome. I tell you what, me and Z have had some good battles in the past. And for some reason, when I see the big guys, especially the guys that you respect on the ice, which Z is one of those guys, I think unanimously around the league, he gets a lot of respect. I like to go with those guys the hardest and more times than not, he’s came out on the winning side of those battles in the corners. But to have him on our side, it’s going to be real awesome. And I’m excited to learn from him, the way he carries himself, the way he handles the locker room. I hear very good things. So, I’m getting up there in years, but still learning. And that’s a guy that I am looking forward to pick some things off from.”

Q. Do you think he’ll bring some missing ingredient to this Caps team? 

OSHIE: “I think he does. I think, I mean, you got [Brenden Dillon] and [Chara] on that left side and [Dmitry Orlov] even, Orly, that’s a physical left side and I don’t think right-wingers are going to have a great time playing the Caps this year.”

Q. What would it mean to you to have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics once again? 

OSHIE: “To play in the Olympics again would be amazing. Honestly, the first one I was very in awe the whole time we were there and did a great job with the shootout, but didn’t medal. To get a medal, for me, that’s one of the only things that I haven’t done as a hockey player. So it would mean a lot to me and to get back there, not only just me, but if we can get the NHL players back there and let some of these kids coming up that haven’t had a chance to make an Olympic team, and to go over there and see the Olympic village and all that stuff. I think it’s very important for the game. And for these young guys coming up.”

Getty Images

Q. Take us back to 2014 in Sochi. Was that shootout performance one of the highlights of your career? 

OSHIE: “It was one of the highlights of my career. I don’t know. I don’t really think a lot about stuff like that too much. I think once I’m done, I’ll focus on a little bit more. When I was out there, it felt like I was just in the backyard again shooting on my dad and my brother. I’ll look back one day probably and focus more on those moments, but obviously as a hockey player, notoriety wise, that kind of put me on the map a little bit. I try not to be just a shootout player, but that was definitely an important moment for me.”

Q. Finally, how difficult was it not to have the chance to participate in 2018 Olympics? Would playing in 2022 be even more special given the hiatus? 

OSHIE: “I think it would be more. I don’t know if it gets more special, but we want to get back there. The players want to get back there. I can’t tell you how many people [I’ve met] that had come over here from China or from Asia, from all over the world, that say that they watched that game. And I’ve never had anyone say that about an NHL game to me. So I think it’s really good for the game and for me to get back there and to get on the Olympic team, especially [at] point in my career to go in there and hopefully, mentor some of the young guys, it would be an honor and I’d be excited to get back.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Scroll Down For:

    Stars expect to open camp without unsigned scorer Jason Robertson

    Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    FRISCO, Texas — Young 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of training camp for the Dallas Stars because the team and the restricted free agent haven’t agreed on a new contract.

    General manager Jim Nill said there’s been steady, ongoing negotiations over the last couple of weeks with Robertson and his representatives. Nill wouldn’t say what has kept the two sides from reaching a deal, adding there have been “very good discussions.”

    The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, at the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before returning to North Texas for their exhibition opener at home on Monday night. They open the regular season Oct. 13 at Nashville.

    “I think he’s disappointed he’s not at camp, we are too,” Nill said before the team departed for the Austin area. “I think it’s very important for a younger player and as you mentioned, the (new) coaching staff. … We do have some time on our side, but we wish he gets here as soon as he can.”

    Robertson had a base salary of $750,000 last season, the end of a $2.775 million, three-year contract. He still has five more years before he has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent.

    The left wing turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when he had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

    A second-round draft pick by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. He had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

    DeBoer said he looks forward to coaching Robertson, but that the forward’s absence won’t change his plans for camp.

    “It doesn’t impact what I’m doing,” DeBoer said. “Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

    Nill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract for Robertson, who was part of the team’s top line last season with veteran Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. They combined for 232 points, the second-most in franchise history for a trio.

    “We’re open to anything. But other than that … I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Nill said. “As I said, we’ve had good conversations. We’ll see where it goes.”

    Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
    3 Comments

    Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

    For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

    “I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

    The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

    That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

    “We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

    It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

    A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

    “It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”

    NEW COACHES

    The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

    “Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

    The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.

    CAMP TRYOUTS

    Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

    The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

    “They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”

    EARLY START

    Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

    “We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

    Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

    And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

    “I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”

    Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers ready for 1st training camp together

    Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Aleksander Barkov was sound asleep at his home in Finland when the trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers was finalized, which isn’t surprising considering it was around 4 a.m. in that part of the world.

    He woke up and read texts from friends reacting to the deal.

    And it wasn’t too long before he got a message from Tkachuk.

    “The first message was `(expletive) right’ and how he was excited to come to Florida,” Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, said at Florida’s media day. “`Let’s take this next step, let’s be a winning team for many years to come.’ That’s who he is. He wants to win. He wants to bring that character to this organization. And I think he’s done some damage already.”

    With that, Barkov was sold.

    And after a few weeks of informally skating with one another, the Panthers start the process of officially seeing what they have in Tkachuk when the team’s training camp – the first under new coach Paul Maurice – opens.

    “We’ve basically had everybody here for a few weeks,” Tkachuk said. “I feel like I’ve been in training camp for a couple of weeks. So today doesn’t feel that new to me. I’ve gotten to know everybody … so let’s get these games going. I’m sick and tired of just practicing and working. I want to start playing some games. I think everybody feels the same way.”

    Maurice was hired over the summer as well, inheriting a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and went to the second round of the playoffs — the first series win for Florida since the run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

    He’s as eager as the players are for the first formal practice, calling it “our first Christmas.”

    “The house is bought. Most of the boxes are unpacked,” Maurice said. “I’ve got two kids that kind of came with me; one’s in Coral Gables, one’s in Estero. Their places are unpacked. They’re out of our house. Once you get down here, for me, you spend most of your days at the rink. So, experiencing all of South Florida, we haven’t gotten to that yet.”

    As part of the deal that went down on July 22, the 24-year-old Tkachuk signed a eight-year, $76 million contract. That’s not the only big cost that the Panthers had to agree to while executing the trade; they also sent Jonathan Huberdeau, the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a left wing who had career bests of 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points last season.

    “I wish all the best to Huby and Weegs,” Barkov said. “They’re great. Everyone loved them. Only good things to say about them. It happens, and for sure, it was best for the team and organization to do this. We move on, and we’ll get ready for a new season.”

    BOBROVSKY’S SUMMER

    Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is Russian, still makes his home in St. Petersburg, and went there for the bulk of his offseason.

    He said it was not logistically difficult to travel there (or return to the U.S.) this summer, even as the war that started when Russia invaded Ukraine continues. Bobrovsky said last season that he was not trying to focus on anything but hockey, and when asked if it was difficult to be back in Russia as war continues he kept the same approach.

    “I had a good summer,” Bobrovsky said. “I saw friends, I saw family. It’s all been fine. I don’t want to talk about what’s going on. I’m not involved in that stuff.”

    CAMP ROSTER

    Florida is opening camp with 56 players – 31 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goalies. That group includes brothers Eric Staal and Marc Staal; Marc Staal signed as a free agent in July; Eric Staal is with Florida on a tryout contract.

    Coyotes sign Barrett Hayton right before training camp

    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract right before the start of training camp.

    Terms of the deal were not released.

    The 22-year-old Hayton was a restricted free agent and not initially listed on Arizona’s roster for camp.

    Hayton had 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Coyotes last season, all career highs.

    Arizona drafted the Peterborough, Ontario native with the fifth overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 94 career games with the Coyotes.