T.J. Oshie is the flower rising amongst the manure

Oshie’s hat trick in his return after losing his dad is straight out of a Hollywood script.
Oshie’s hat trick in his return after losing his dad is straight out of a Hollywood script.
Image: Getty Images

There’s plenty to say about the utter detritus that was the Capitals-Rangers Falls Count Anywhere affair on Wednesday night. But I’m tired of the whole thing, and we’ll save that for another spillage of my psychosis. I want to start with T.J. Oshie.

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Sports as a whole still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding, accepting, and properly caring for mental health. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been progress. Maybe it feels like too little, but it’s there. One area that sports and sports fans have certainly allowed a wider berth than they did is when it comes to grief. Maybe it’s not as understanding when it comes to grief on littler things, but it’s better than it was on the bigger ones.

T.J. Oshie’s father passed away last week. You don’t need to know anything about Oshie’s relationship with his dad to know what that can be. We got a glimpse back in 2018 when the Caps won the Cup and Oshie let the world know that his father’s condition was worsening, but that accomplishment of winning the Cup would be a boon. Maybe it would be one last moment they could share.

Wednesday was Oshie’s first game back with the Caps since the passing of his father. He scored a hat trick. It feels like scripted stuff. It’s one of those things where, for even a cynic like me, you can’t rule out a higher power.

Oshie didn’t really find the need to hide his feelings on the bench.

Maybe this always happened and I’ve only noticed as I’ve gotten older and had my own grief to process, as all adults do. It reminds me of Dee Gordon’s homer in his first AB after Jose Fernandez passed. There’s no “right” way to grieve. Whatever one person needs is what they need. But there is something poetic, beautiful even, about seeing someone trying to press on with their life, while never forgetting what they’ve lost and not being afraid to show how hard it is to adjust to how life is different now. At some point, you have to go back to work, and do the things you do, while living with the loss. Maybe the hardest thing about grief is when you realize the world around you didn’t stop. You have to get on with it eventually. You can’t ignore it, and you can’t ignore how hard it is at times.

While hockey spent most of the night showing just how awful it is and how backward it can be, at least Oshie was there to show us what sports can be.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.