Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, like most pro athletes staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic, is itching to get back to competition.
But in order to resume and complete the 2019-20 NHL season, Oshie said the safety of everyone involved must be atop the list of considerations.
“Safety needs to be No. 1,” Oshie said. “I mean, we need these numbers to stop and go down and become zero, and a lot of players have young families and I’m thinking about them more so than myself.
“And you hate to get things rushed and not done properly and somehow they put a bunch of people in harm’s way and especially our families in harm’s way.”
Oshie trained “like we were going to be back really soon” for the first two weeks of the pause, before recognizing the suspension would be a long haul. He said he misses competing on a daily basis and wants to get back to playing hockey, in whatever form that takes.
“With our team and with just how much effort, not only us and myself personally but everyone in the league puts forth during the regular season,” he said, “all the blocked shots, all the injuries, all that stuff - that all is geared toward getting in the playoffs and having a chance to raise the Cup, and to not have that be a possibility is a hard pill to swallow.”
It was a stark contrast to what Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said last week: that winning the 2020 Stanley Cup wouldn’t feel like “winning a real Stanley Cup” due to the likely truncated season and different postseason format. Doughty’s Kings, it should be noted, will not qualify for the playoffs either way.
One possibility that’s been floated is to hold the Stanley Cup Playoffs at one site in a smaller, more isolated city, including Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Oshie, who attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, called it “probably the No. 1 place I’d want to play in the world.”
The 33-year-old winger said it will take a team of people smarter than him to organize a “100 percent safe” solution to finish the season.
“If there is a way that they can do that, if we can ensure that the safety of everyone that is working the rinks, the teams and the trainers of everybody … I want to play and want a chance to raise another Cup,” Oshie said.