Sue Oleksy said she finally knew it was real when she saw the news scroll by on the NHL Network ticker.
Oleksy was making his debut against the Boston Bruins, but goaltender Braden Holtby knew all about the defenseman from their time in Hershey.
“When he first got here, I asked him how nervous he was to play the first game,” Holtby said. “He said, ‘I’m not nervous at all because I never thought I’d actually be here, so I just want to enjoy it.’”
Oleksy recorded an assist that night of March 5, with his parents in attendance.
Stapleton recalled Andy and Sue bringing a deep fryer on the road and making chicken for his team in Traverse City, and while they couldn’t do that at Verizon Center, “it meant the world” to Steve Oleksy that his family was there.
“To me, it was more of a feeling like paying them back for all the early-morning practices, all the time and travel and all the money they’ve sunk into it,” Oleksy said.
The Oleksy family got two hours of sleep at the newest Caps player’s two-bedroom apartment in Arlington before turning around and driving all the way home.
“It took a while to recover from,” Sue Oleksy said. “It was an incredible feeling. To get here and see that was incredible.”
‘Recipe for success’
Andy and Sue knew their son was incredible well before he made it to the NHL. And that has as much to do with his off-ice exploits, which included in 1998 founding Eastside Hockey Elite, a summer league for players in the metro Detroit area.
Oleksy spends his summers running the organization, which includes a league, training and tournaments for local pro, college and junior players.
“Anybody will tell you when you’re at the minor leagues it’s tough to survive on the pay you get, especially if you want to put some in the bank account,” he said. “I had to do something outside of it and that’s kind of what I took on and it’s been really successful.”
Oleksy beams with pride about camp alumni such as defenseman Danny DeKeyser, a highly sought-after college free agent out of Western Michigan who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings, and Mark Katic, who just won a league championship in Germany.
His deal with the Caps put Oleksy on more stable financial footing, but his “entrepreneurial mindset” won’t go away as he considers what life after his playing days could be like.