Feelin' like a proud papa!
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a former player of mine, T.J. Oshie, and then I re-posted it last year. T.J. is probably the most enjoyable player to coach that I've ever worked with. His work ethic was incredible, and he brought a joy to the game (and practices) that was contagious. Last summer, T.J. signed a contract with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL, so this year I have been following the progress of his team religiously.
The Blues are in the middle of a playoff battle, so I checked their website first thing this morning, and was treated to this article and this video.
The title of the article is "Oshie Scores One for the Highlight Reel," and I found (as if I didn't already know) that the Blues see the same things in T.J. as we did when he was in high school.
“He’s unbelievable. He’s so tenacious, just the awareness and his hockey sense is unbelievable,” said goalie Chris Mason, who stopped 21 shots for his first career victory over the Canucks. “He’s part of what this team is all about. He never quits, he’s such a hard worker…he’s a great player.”
"He’s energetic, he’s fresh out there, just doing it all,” Backes added. “Hopefully (management) locks him up for 20 years here.”
Blues’ Head Coach Andy Murray, who typically refrains from praising individual players for a more team-first approach, had rave reviews for his rookie forward.
“I think what people appreciate about our whole team, and T.J. is a pretty good example of this, is hard work,” Murray said. “It’s great to see the nice moves and things like that, but I think (the fans) like his level of determination and they appreciate that.”
In some ways, success can be more difficult to deal with than failure, and I worry about that with T.J., just as I would with anyone. Having 20,000 people chanting "Osh-ie! Osh-ie!" over and over again is heady stuff, and it would make it tough for anyone to maintain their humility. But if anyone can do it, T.J. can. An incident I had personally with T.J. speaks volumes about the type of person he is. The 2005 hockey team that T.J. helped lead to a state championship went undefeated, and that is an incredibly difficult thing to do. The year after T.J. graduated, he came to one of our practices, and after it was over, I said to him, "I don't know if you guys fully appreciate what you accomplished last year." T.J. held up his hand to stop me, and said, "Coach, it's not what 'you guys' accomplished; it's what 'we accomplished.'"
I hope you'll excuse my gushiness, but right now I'm feeling like a proud papa. I can only imagine what T.J.'s dad, Tim, feels like.