T.J. Oshie was traded Thursday by the St. Louis Blues, and you don’t have to be a Blues fan, or even a hockey fan, to know how difficult the deal was for a 5-year-old girl named Libby.
“T.J. Oshie left the team,” a sobbing Libby tells her mother, recording a moment that went viral on the Internet.
“He’s going to come back and visit,” the mother consoles, but Libby — she wasn’t born yesterday — understands the inevitable conundrum of rooting for T.J. Oshie while he’s wearing another team’s uniform.
“But then we won’t want him to win,” Libby says, and at this point of the video you wonder if maybe it should be put in a time capsule and sent on a spacecraft bound for the cosmic ocean, so that an advanced civilization 75,000 years from now can gain an insight into what Americans found fascinating in 2015.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Olympian
Offseason trades between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals don’t typically interest me, but between the little girl’s grieving and T.J. Oshie’s biography, this one did. Oshie was born in Mount Vernon and raised in Everett, where he honed his rink skills during a decade spent with the Seattle Junior Hockey Association.
Oshie attended Stanwood High as a freshman before moving to Minnesota. A University of North Dakota product, he has a connection to the Seattle area that is distant but genuine — and a reminder that a potential Seattle NHL franchise wouldn’t require everybody in the region to learn the rules and terms of hockey.
The deal that broke one heart and melted millions of others was the latest in a busy midsummer on the winter-sports front for Washingtonians. Former Sonics guard Luke Ridnour, who grew up in Blaine and keeps a residence in suburban Seattle, was traded from Orlando to Memphis on June 24.
On June 25, Memphis traded Ridnour to Charlotte, which promptly traded him to Oklahoma City the same day. On June 30, Oklahoma City traded Ridnour to Toronto.
In other words, Ridnour — a more apt pronunciation of his last name might be “Rid In An Hour” — was employed by five NBA teams in seven days.
What’s that about?
I wish it were about some deliciously preposterous plot line involving the CIA, the Czech secret police, Lloyd’s of London, David Stern, Clay Bennett, and all of the faces depicted on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but as another band once sang during the Beatles’ heyday — and is still singing, come to think of it — you can’t always get what you want.
The saga of Luke Ridnour being under the control of five teams in seven days is about his $2.75 million contract for next season. It’s not fully guaranteed until July 10, which gives the NBA teams who take it the ability to create salary-cap space by trading it.
Ridnour is 34, and nobody will be surprised if he decides to retire after averaging four points and two assists off the bench last season for the Magic.
In the meantime — for the next few days, anyway — Ridnour’s contract remains coveted while the player obviously is not coveted.
It’s a kind of creepy way of doing business, but not unprecedented. In 2009, between June 25 and Aug. 13, Quentin Richardson was traded by the Knicks, Grizzlies, Clippers and Timberwolves.
A nutshell breakdown of the NBA salary cap, right there.
If I ever again refer to the NBA salary cap without an NBA team in Seattle, feel free to grab a kitchen utensil and hit me on the back of the head with it.
As for the 5-year old girl and her distraught reaction to the trade of T.J. Oshie, things ended happily ever after.
Appearing on ESPN with her dad, Libby took a surprise call from Oshie and was asked if she had a question.
“Do you have a swimming pool?”
Oshie told his most conspicuously devoted fan that his new house, under construction, included plans for a swimming pool.
Well before Oshie finished his answer, Libby’s eyes were wandering. She was somewhere else, very far away.
Luke Rid In An Hour could relate.