Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth
Since leaving Lake Superior State (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) after the 2008-09 season, gritty defenseman Steve Oleksy has been the epitome of a journeyman, playing for seven different minor league teams in five years. He’s played for the Port Huron Icehawks of the IHL; the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Toledo Walleye, and the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL; and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
Monday night, with the Capitals needing a right-handed shooting defenseman in Mike Green’s absence (i.e. #brittlegroin), Oleksy got the call that young players dream about.
But he had his phone off.
“I was in a movie,” an expressionless Oleksy said in his first press conference as a Capital. “I had a couple of missed calls from my agent and Doug, the GM in Hershey. I returned the calls and they told me the good news. Obviously, I was thrilled to hear that.”
The six-foot, 195-pound social-media savant was seeing Jack the Giant Slayer with roommate Mike Carman. Unable to get in touch with Oleksy, Bears general manager Doug Yingst tried calling Carman.
“We both came out [of the theatre],” Carman explained to The Patriot-News’ Tim Leone. “I had a couple of missed calls from our GM, trying to get ahold of him. I’m looking at my phone, and I’m like ‘Oh no! What did I do?’”
Once Oleksy saw that his roommate had the same missed calls too, he had — in Carman’s words — “an inkling of what was going on.” But it wasn’t until he got on the phone with his agent that it really sunk in for the Chesterfield, Michigan native.
“A big smile came on his face when he called his agent [Peter Cooney],” Carman said. “It’s a dream come true for anybody to get that call.”
The NHL opportunity for Oleksy comes as a surprise considering top defensive prospect Cameron Schilling — with the Capitals during training camp — is playing some good hockey in Hershey. It was a surprise for Oleksy too.
“It was pretty unexpected,” Oleksy revealed. “Obviously, as a hockey player you show up for work everyday and give 100%, work as hard as you can, and let the puzzle pieces fall where they may.”
Still, I’m confused. Why were Oleksy and Carman seeing Jack The Giant Slayer? That seems like such an odd choice for a movie.
“There wasn’t much to pick from at the CocoaPlex,” Carman responded.
Added Oleksy: “We’re both big movie guys. So you run out of options pretty quick.”