TJ Oshie may never lead the league in goals or points, but when he retires, he will, in this writer’s opinion, leave the game as one of the more popular and respected players of his time. From helping the US beat Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics (he got a shoutout from President Barrack Obama) to becoming a Stanley Cup champion and All-Star, Oshie has dazzling skill combined with a lunch pail attitude towards the less heralded parts of the game, puck battles and hitting.
Oshie also brings this attention to detail to how he treats fans. Oshie relentlessly obliges supporters with autographs and photos and does so with a smile on his face. TJ’s down-to-earth personality and kindness even inspired Wish Kid Addy Flint during her fight with cancer.
“My kids adore him,” Jonah P. said in an interview. “He’s made our family even bigger fans of the team.”
Jonah is the father of two young girls, six-year-old Kiona and three-year-old Koa, just like Oshie, who is the prince charming for Lyla and Leni. Over the last two years, Oshie has interacted with Jonah’s family several times during warmups and it’s helped transform their fandom.
“My oldest daughter Kiona is the biggest Oshie fan,” Jonah said. “When she got old enough to remember names and his number 77, she started rooting for him. Then we went to games and it went next level.”
During the 2018-19 season, Jonah took his daughters to their first Capitals game – a March 26, 2019 matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes. Kiona made a clever sign that said Puck Or Pic.
“Oshie came right over, saw the sign, and gave her a puck,” Jonah said.
Earlier year, the family went to another game. “Kiona had a sign that played off her last one. It said Stick Or Pic,” Jonah said. “TJ gave my youngest a puck and my oldest a stick. It was unreal.”
“After she got the stick, she could barely talk and just couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Finally, the family went to the Capitals-Flyers game on Saturday and it happened again.
“Kiona’s poster just said TJ and that she wanted a picture with him,” Jonah said. “He skated right over and had a photo session with my kids. I can’t believe their luck. They were the happiest kids at the arena.”
“Osh is a stand-up guy,” Jonah said. “These recent interactions with the pucks, sticks, and pictures is beyond kind and have really made them big hockey fans. I commend his sincerity towards my kids. It was so personal to them and I don’t think they will ever forget it.”
Kiona constantly watches Caps games now and has a Caps jean jacket reminiscent to the ones the Oshie wore in the playoffs. She also carries around a custom-made pillow that has Oshie’s face affixed to a hockey stick.
The gestures have made hockey even more approachable for Jonah’s two young girls.
“Photos like this are Kiona’s quest at this young age,” he said. “He made her feel so special.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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