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Oshie appreciates attention but ready to move forward

Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 1:58 PM / 2014 Olympics

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Oshie appreciates attention but ready to move forward
Four shootout goals in a pressure-packed victory against Russia in Russia made American forward T.J. Oshie a media darling, but Oshie is ready to move on and let someone else have the spotlight

SOCHI -- T.J. Oshie woke up Sunday morning in the same bed he's been sleeping in since he got to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. His clothes were in the same spot. David Backes still was his roommate. He still had a game to play later in the afternoon against Slovenia.

Everything seemed so normal. Except, of course, for the fact that Oshie woke up after turning into an overnight sensation, so much so that his followers on Twitter more than doubled and he received a congratulatory message from the White House Twitter account for his epic performance in the shootout Saturday, when he went 4-for-6 to help the United States beat Russia 3-2 at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

The message was tagged with "-bo," indicating that it was from President Barack Obama himself.

"When someone told me that I didn't really believe them," Oshie said following the Americans' 5-1 win against Slovenia on Sunday. "Someone actually showed it to me. For him to go out of his way from his busy life and take the time to congratulate my teammates and I, is pretty special."

Oshie, though, said nothing about him has changed. He said he's still the same guy, a hockey player having fun.

That's not surprising in the least.

Staying humble is the hockey player way, so it's no surprise Oshie is trying to deflect his newfound fame. However it's not as easy to stay true to your roots when you've got NBC, ABC and CNN requesting interviews with you and people calling you an American hero, a notion Oshie vehemently disagrees with.

"I have family members and a couple friends who serve [in the military]," Oshie said. "I don't know if they want to remain anonymous, but I want to send all my love and support to those guys for what they do. They are very special and when you think about this [the 2014 Sochi Olympics], it is on a very small scale compared to what they do. The sacrifices they make are on a completely different scale than what we do."

Give him credit for being genuine and honest, but forgive Oshie if all this attention has been a little too much on him.

USA Hockey has been contacted by "Today," "Good Morning America," "Piers Morgan Live," "CNN New Day," Peter King and "Dan Patrick Show." They all want to get a piece of Oshie, who still is just a 27-year-old hockey player from Warroad, Minn., population 1,800 and home to seven Olympic ice hockey medal winners; none with the surname Oshie. At least not yet.

"He's just that kind of guy that he takes the good with the bad and he's level-headed," said Backes, Oshie’s teammate with the St. Louis Blues. "He's humble and keeps everything in perspective. His quote [Saturday] about the [military] servicemen and women, that's him. He knows that without those people we wouldn't be able to do what we do every single day, wouldn't have this opportunity to represent our country at this level. He's back at work doing all the dirty things [Sunday]. He's not turning into Prince Charming out there by any means."

Oshie was front-and-center in the U.S. win Sunday, creating space in the offensive zone by going to the net and getting in the face of any Slovenian who got in his way. The shift by his line, including Paul Stastny and Blake Wheeler, midway through the second period ignited the previously sleepy Americans, who scored on the next shift and again 72 seconds later.

U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said he talked with Oshie after the game Saturday to make sure his mind was in the right place.

"I jokingly said, 'You know, you're going to have to play again [Sunday].'" Bylsma said. "He's got a lot of attention and a lot of followers from the previous game, but I thought he was a big spark for us even [Sunday]. In a lull there in the second period he goes to the net and draws a penalty, then his line comes out and I think it really was our best shift of the game. His energy, his speed and his skill was all there. We kept pushing it with that line and T.J. in particular. It was a good response from him."

Oshie admitted getting to sleep Saturday night was difficult because of the frenzy around him, a frenzy he created with his quick hands and Picasso-esque creativity in the shootout.

After the game he went to the International Broadcasting Center, where he was cheered when he got into the NBC section. He met some of the television personalities he's been watching for years, including Al Michaels, Dan Patrick and Cris Collinsworth.

"Someone actually showed it to me. For him to go out of his way from his busy life and take the time to congratulate my teammates and I, is pretty special."
-- T.J. Oshie on a congratulatory tweet from President Barack Obama

"Met some pretty influential people," Oshie said.

Oshie didn't get back to the athlete's village until after 10 p.m.

"NBC put makeup on him and he's like, 'I think they’re blowing this a little out of proportion,'" Backes said. "He jumped right into the shower. I don't think he wanted anyone to see it. He'll probably kill me for telling you that, but that's part of the ribbing he deserves."

And you better believe Oshie's teammates have been giving him the business quite good since he has turned into a media star.

Oshie said U.S. captain Zach Parise has been the ringleader. He didn't want to delve into what his teammates have been saying to him because he doesn't want it to continue.

"I'm trying to get them to change their focus on someone else so I don't want the media saying it too," Oshie said. "Maybe they'll start giving Phil [Kessel] a hard time."

Kessel had a hat trick Sunday against Slovenia. It was impressive and important, but it wasn't four pressure-packed shootout goals against Russia in an atmosphere that may not be duplicated in these Olympics.

Oshie did that. Oshie is the star.

Just don't expect him to act like one.

"Obviously there's a little grief when the White House is tweeting you," Backes said. "Who knows what else is sent his way, but that that comes with the territory and he takes it all in stride."

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2014 OLYMPICS POLL