LAS VEGAS — The game had been over for well more than an hour, and the Washington Capitals’ players were still taking their turns with the Stanley Cup. T.J. Oshie had already posed with his wife, his two children, his parents. But he wanted one more picture.
“Wait, let me get one with Coach,” he said, waving his father over. “Come here, Coach.”
Coach’s actual name is Tim Oshie, and his presence at Thursday’s Stanley Cup finals clincher made a special day all the more memorable for the Capitals’ 31-year-old forward. Oshie’s father has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since 2012, diagnosed when he was only 50 years old, but he made the trip to watch the Caps beat the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3, and to see his son hoist the Cup they’d both dreamed about for so long.
“His memory’s slipping a little these days,” Oshie said. “This is one memory that I don’t think he’s going to forget.”
Oshie had to wipe away tears and catch his breath when talking about his dad after the game. Winning the Stanley Cup isn’t a capstone on a season’s worth of accomplishments; it represents something much bigger. In a team sport like hockey, every single player on the Caps’ roster knows his full team extends far beyond the locker room.
“It’s a special moment for our families — my dad, my mom, my brother, my wife,” Alex Ovechkin explained late Thursday night. “All the fans, all the parents who came, all the wives, kids, I don’t know, it’s just great.”
And so for those who win it, whose names will be etched on the most storied trophy in sports, the Cup carries with it a lifetime of support, setbacks and accomplishments.
“I’ve been working for this for about 27 years,” Oshie said. “To finally do it, I don’t know, it’s a dream come true.”
“The reality is so much more amazing. You try and prepare yourself … but you can never prepare for the feeling of lifting that Cup,” he said. “There’s nothing like it. There really isn’t.”
Oshie could easily rattle off the three best days of his life: his wedding day and the births of his two girls. “And I got No. 4 now,” he said.
It’s special because he’ll share it. With his teammates, of course, but also with his family, with those who were there for every twist and turn of the journey.
Oshie was 15 when his parents split, according to a 2014 ESPN profile, and moved to Minnesota with his father. That’s when the younger Oshie says he fell in love with the sport, and the bond between father and son cemented. Tim Oshie coached youth teams and was often on the ice with his son.
“To have him here is amazing,” Oshie said Thursday night. “He doesn’t travel very well. I’ve been trying to find a good way to get him out all playoffs. It was kind of the perfect storm to get him in with my aunt and sister from Seattle.”
And so when the Caps had completed their Game 5 comeback and friends and family lined up to take photos after the game, Tim Oshie walked slowly along the ice. A brown cane supported him, and soon he was standing next to his son. Oshie lifted the Cup, and his father grabbed hold. The player craned his neck around the top of the Cup and smiled.
“You sure you got it?” he asked, and Tim Oshie nodded. Father and son turned their smiles toward a row of iPhones — a picture, a moment and a feeling that time can’t erase.
Jesse Dougherty contributed to this report.
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