ST. LOUIS -- Friday's All-Star Skills provided a brief glimpse of the type of reception T.J. Oshie can expect to receive from the St. Louis crowd when he takes to the ice in his first NHL All-Star Game.
"It's been pretty cool hearing them cheer when I got called up," Oshie said. "I heard a cheer so I looked up at the scoreboard and they were showing me skating in warmups. It's really cool and special to me to see the support that I still have here in St. Louis, a place that I really enjoyed playing."
Though it feels to many in Washington as if Oshie has always been a Capital, this is only his fifth season with the franchise. He spent his first seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues. It is the team that drafted him, developed him and where he broke into the NHL. St. Louis is the city in which his first daughter was born and now, the city in which he triumphantly returns, still a fan favorite, for his first NHL All-Star Game (NBC, 8 p.m.).
"Obviously in D.C. is kind of where my career really started to take off and I've had more success there as a team as well," Oshie said, "But to come back here where I really started growing my family and had a lot of special memories and place I was drafted to, it's a pretty cool story to be able to tell my kids when we're older and grandkids after that."
While there is no question that D.C. is now home for Oshie, he never lost that bond that he had with the team and his teammates. When the Blues won the Cup, Oshie was on the phone with several of his former teammates the very next day as they continued celebrating.
And while Oshie never lost the bond he had with the team, neither did the team lose that bond with him.
"He goes all that time, comes back here for his first [All-Star Game] after he did so much for us and played so many games," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said, who was a former teammate of Oshie's in St. Louis. "It's weird how things work out."
It certainly is. Just ask David Perron.
Perron was also a teammate of Oshie's with the Blues and both player's careers are connected in more ways than one.
Perron was selected 26th overall by St. Louis in 2007, Oshie was selected 24th overall by St. Louis in 2005. Perron played his first NHL season for the Blues in 2007-08, Oshie in 2008-09. Perron was traded in the summer of 2013, Oshie in the summer of 2015. Perron won his first Cup in 2019 with the Blues, Oshie in 2018...against Perron who was then a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, the two are united again, each making their first All-Star appearance and it just so happens to come in St. Louis of all places.
"I said how special is it that we're here together right now?" Perron said. "I think for him after 12 years of his career, for me 13 years, it's both our first time and both being voted in by the fans, fans of St. Louis obviously helped him out quite a bit because he was a fan favorite when he was here and they helped me out a lot as well. It's truly special, a heck of a player. He's always played the right way, won a Cup two years ago against us in Vegas, that was hard, but I was happy for him to win one. And he's put in the work, he's put in the time, I'm happy for him."
Most players spend the bye week and the All-Star break by stepping away from hockey and going on vacations or spending time with family. With a pregnant wife and two daughters, Oshie probably had other plans for this week that did not involve going to snowy Missouri.
If the All-Star Game were anywhere else, this week may have been more than an inconvenience for Oshie than anything else. But not St. Louis.
Said Oshie, "I don't think there's another place that would be more fitting for me to go to my first All-Star Game."
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