Washington Capitals | TJ Oshie hopes his back will allow him to play next season

(Arlington) TJ Oshie remained on the ice for a long time after several Washington Capitals teammates returned to the locker room following their elimination.

His family was present at all four games, including those in New York, just in case. This could be the last he plays in the NHL.

Oshie has not yet announced his retirement, but the 37-year-old winger acknowledged Tuesday that he and doctors need to find a solution to his chronic back problems before he returns for a 17e season.

“I’d love to play next year, but I’ll have to come back with some assurance that my back will hold up – it’s hard to put everyone in that situation,” Oshie said. I would just like to find an answer and solution to the problem before coming back. »

Oshie’s back and other injuries have limited him to 52 of the Capitals’ 82 games this season. He played in the final game of the series against the New York Rangers with a broken left hand.

“A broken hand is like a broken nail compared to what I’m going through with my back,” Oshie said, adding that he’s often on the ground unable to move when his back gives up. There were a lot of extra things I had to do to make sure my back was ready to play an NHL game. »

Already expecting center Nicklas Backstrom to remain on the long-term injured list for the final year of his contract after opting out in November with a lingering hip injury, manager General Brian MacLellan indicated that the team would support Oshie regardless of his decision, and that he did not need to provide a response date.

“If he determines at some point that he feels good and wants to come back and play, let’s go for it,” MacLellan said. If he doesn’t, we’ll go that way too. »

Oshie’s presence or absence would certainly affect how the Capitals attack the off-season, whether they can use his $5.75 million in salary space or need to fill a major void.

“He is an important part of our team,” insisted MacLellan. You get him or you find another guy. »

Oshie, who reached 1,000 career games and scored the empty-net goal that clinched the Capitals’ playoff berth, has long become a popular teammate and fan favorite. He proved to be the team’s emotional engine for nearly a decade as he played through injuries.

“He’s a warrior,” noted captain Alex Ovechkin. He’s a guy who brings energy on and off the ice. He has so much respect from coaches, fans and players too. »

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