T.J. Oshie throws dirty hit. I could easily make that a weekly column. This is not a case of a gritty player getting a reputation for doing his job. This is not a rage against the Washington Capitals or the USA or whatever other excuse is going to be made for him.
This is a case of a player repeatedly making the same horrible choices and slowly giving us no choice but to think he actually wants people to lose respect for him.
This hit from game one of the Canada/USA World Cup pre-tournament home and home says everything you need to know about T.J. Oshie.
Logan Couture found himself in some trouble in the offensive zone when he had to back off to prevent a clearing attempt from crossing the blue line.
He had just pivoted from facing the boards to skate backwards so he hadn’t looked into the neutral zone for several seconds. He had just come to a stop and had his feet wide apart, half leaned forward. This is probably the most vulnerable standing position you could be in. Just as he started to pivot back into a set position, Oshie threw his hit.
My problem isn’t that Couture was vulnerable. It isn’t that he hadn’t looked around him either. Oshie had every right to still hit him. I’m just mentioning those things to set the tone for my true point: Oshie’s decision making.
Oshie himself was hoping the clearing attempt would get by Couture. To get a jump, he started to head up ice behind the Canadian into the open space. When he realized the clearance was a weak one and Couture would likely hold the line, he reacted quickly and closed Couture down.
At this point, Oshie had turned and was coming back at Couture from a poor angle of approach as far as hitting is concerned. From the rear/side to the back of the shoulder. Oshie actually had to turn and move around Couture’s left shoulder to get in front of him.
As I explained earlier, Couture was extremely vulnerable, and as a bonus he never saw Oshie coming. He was absolutely zero threat at this time. There was no “hockey play” reason to even throw this hit in the first place. Oshie knew all of these things AND also knew he had a horrible angle.
As he skated past Couture’s shoulder, Oshie was facing toward the boards and Couture himself hadn’t yet fully opened up. His shoulder was still pointed more toward the boards as well. The natural motion for Oshie to take would be to carry on turning toward his own zone and passing Couture in a position where his right shoulder would brush past Couture and his left shoulder would be toward the neutral zone, completely facing his own end. Instead, Oshie made the decision to open himself up and make a very last second body shift to be facing completely back up the ice.
This tells me that he was going extremely out of his way to throw a hit, any hit at all, and Couture’s own body position made it virtually impossible for there to be any safe point of contact from this angle.
This hit was as needless as it was ruthless and reckless, and there’s no place in the game for decisions like that.