ST. LOUIS — They came to watch people talk to other people.
Hundreds of hockey fans, many in St. Louis Blues sweaters, arrived at the Stifel Theatre on Thursday to watch Media Day for the NHL All-Star Game.
Eight at a time, All-Stars were stationed at podiums on the stage. And as journalists flocked to interview them, fans in the audience chose which player’s audio feed to listen to via headsets.
It was arguably like watching paint dry, except if these walls could talk, they’d have Canadian accents.
But, the NHL occasionally trotted a star to the stage front — and the NHL Network’s Jackie Redmond interviewed the player specifically for the fans. And when Snohomish County native T.J. Oshie took center stage, well, Stifel rocked like Enterprise Center —actually, if we’re doing this, like Scottrade Center.
“I respect their support through thick and thin,” Oshie said of the St. Louis fans, who cheered the former Blue and current Washington Capital.
In his 12th NHL season, Oshie is in his first NHL All-Star Game, and it’s in St. Louis — “Sometimes it’s funny how things work out,” Blues All-Star Alex Pietrangelo said. “He deserves to be here.”
Oshie, 33, was the Blues’ first-round pick in 2005 (24th overall), and finished eighth in the Calder Trophy voting as a rookie. His best statistical season of his seven in St. Louis was 2013-14, when he scored 21 goals and dished out 39 assists. His 60 points were second on the team to Alexander Steen (62), and that was another one of those seasons where the Blues lost in the first round. Oshie was traded in the summer of 2015 for Troy Brouwer, who symbolized the Blues’ first-round breakthrough with his Game 7 goal against Chicago in 2016.
Oshie himself broke through in Washington, scoring more goals in his first season there (26) than he had in any of his seven in St. Louis. In 2016-17, Oshie scored 33 goals in just 68 games — his shooting percentage (23.1) was best in the National Hockey League. And the Olympic hero became a Stanley Cup champion in 2018. The next year, his buddies did, too.
“I talked to those guys — I was on the way to the golf course, and they were still out partying the night they won,” Oshie said of a call in June of 2019, after the Blues won it all. “And had a nice FaceTime with (former Blue) Barrett Jackman — he was with a bunch of the guys. It was cool to talk to them and tell them congratulations. … A lot of the guys here (at All-Star) are in that core group, I know what type of guys and players they are. They’re leading the charge.”
This season, Oshie has 18 goals and 16 assists (34 points) in 49 games for Washington, which is in first place in its division. Oshie was one of those “last men in” to the All-Star Game, voted fittingly by the fans, some who were surely at Stifel on Thursday.
“I don’t think there’s another place that would be more fitting for me to go to my first All-Star Game,” Oshie said. “Obviously DC is where my career really started to take off, and I’ve had more success there, but to come back here to where I really started growing my family and have a lot of special memories in the place I was drafted to, it’s a pretty cool story. I’ll be able to tell my kids when they’re older and grandkids after that.”