Athletes are commonly known to be very superstitious, often devising pregame rituals and sticking to strict routines that they believe help them as a player during games or matches.
Capitals forward T.J. Oshie is no different. When he was traded to Washington in 2015, he brought an energetic personality to a team that had just suffered yet another devastating playoff loss—this one in overtime of Game 7 in the second round.
As he grew into one of the team’s leaders over the years, one of the things Oshie started in the locker room was pregame handshakes. He created individual routines with several of his teammates and would run through each of them in the tunnel prior to puck drop.
In an interview with Roger Bennett on a special hockey edition of the Men in Blazers show, Oshie walked Bennett through each of the handshakes.
First up is always Evgeny Kuznetsov.
“Kuzy is the first guy that I handshake,” Oshie said. “We go to each other and lock each other’s elbows, almost like you were dancing.”
John Carlson? “Little hop at the start and then a high high five, into the elbows.”
Nicklas Backstrom? “I don’t think this one’s appropriate for TV,” he said as he leaned over laughing.
And of course, Alex Ovechkin. “Three hard high fives, until my shoulder almost breaks,” Oshie said. “And then a really hard elbow. And then a chest bump. And then we say, ‘Let’s F-ing go.’”
Are there ramifications for screaming into each other’s faces like that?
“You get spit on a little bit, depending on when the guy drank his Gatorade last.”
Out on the ice, Oshie has yet another ritual—this one with forward Tom Wilson. They take turns using their sticks to hit each other in some, well, sensitive areas. It’s taken very seriously.
“We’ve got some different things going,” Oshie said. “Depending on if we lost the last game, if we won we’ll do the same thing. So there’s a little bit of superstition there depending on what we tap, how hard we tap it and how we do it.”
But as fun as all these handshakes and body shots are, Oshie does them for a reason.
“When you do it one or two times, it’s just a little handshake and you’re just having fun,” Oshie said. “I think when you do it for a full season, you get to the playoffs and you’re going out for a third period and you really need to be on top of your game, and you stick to your routine, it really becomes a bond.
“Some people say that you need a little hatred on a team or sometimes you’ve got to play with guys that you dislike. I’m not that way. I think you have to care about the person that’s next to you, and that’s a way to build that bond and that care.”
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