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Penguins Nemesis Considering Retirement



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, T.J. Oshie

T.J. Oshie has been the competitor who burned the Pittsburgh Penguins time and again as a member of the Washington Capitals. The chippy forward was nearly a member of the Penguins as former general manager Jim Rutherford tried to acquire him in 2015 before Washington successfully pried him from the St. Louis Blues.

Oshie, 37, has not scored more points against any other NHL team than the Penguins. He has scored 34 points in 42 career games against the Penguins (a mark he’s tied against the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks).

However, father time waits for no one. Persistent back issues have recently plagued Oshie’s career. The Capitals had breakup day after the New York Rangers completed the Round One sweep on Sunday.

“My issue is there’s not just one problem back there,” Oshie said. There are multiple things we’ve got to find and answer for.”

Oshie lingered on the ice after the Capitals’ Game 4 loss.

When pressed if he’ll return next season, his heart sounded willing, but his body is answering differently.

“It would be hard for me to ever for sure say that I’m stepping away from the game. I’d love to play next year, but I will need to come back with somewhat of a guarantee that my back won’t be (a problem),” Oshie said. “It’s hard putting everyone through this situation. From my family at home to the team trying to figure out a lineup to young guys getting called up and going down. So, I’d like to find an answer and a fix to the problem before making another run at it.”

Oshie has played nine seasons with Washington, scoring 192 goals with 385 points in 567 games. In his 16-year career, he’s played 1010 games with 302 goals and 695 points.

He’s been a stalwart for Washington through many Metro Division battles, especially against the Penguins. Washington’s great triumph was in 2018 when the team ended the Penguins’ two-year reign as Stanley Cup champions.

Oshie doesn’t want his career to end, but he might not have a choice.

“I love the game. (I) still love coming to the rink every day. There are some health things that I’ve got to follow up … and go over some options, but I love the game,” Oshie said. “I still love coming here. I’d love to play next season, but I need to find a way to eliminate me going in and out of the lineup because of the same issue every time.”

Oshie is in the final year of an eight-year, $46 million deal with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million that he signed in 2017.

Washington GM Brian McClellan is prepared for either decision.

“I told him we’ll support him in whatever he wants. Seek solutions,” McClellan said. “If he determines at some point that he feels good, he wants to come back to play, (we’ll) go that way. If he doesn’t, we’ll work it out that way, too.”

Washington was also rocked earlier this season when core player Nick Backstrom stepped away from the game more than a year after hip surgery.