Of the 13 (!) defenders the Capitals used this season, Steve Oleksy outscored the opposition better than any of them, stayed about even in relative puck possession, and made everybody smile. So obviously he got put on waivers and sent down to Hershey.
By the Numbers
|14.9||Average time on ice per game|
|46.6%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|58.8%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
|9.9%||On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5|
|94.0%||On-ice saving percentage during 5v5|
I’m not particularly a Steve Oleksy fan, but it’s hard to argue that the team wasn’t better when he was on it. The Brouillettes and Carricks and Urboms and Strachans of the world just don’t compare too favorably to Sexy ‘Leksy, so what happened in January still kind of baffles me.
Oleksy was in the red possession wise, but so was the rest of the team (except, like, Grabo and Fehr and Green). After the Caps loss in Minny, Carrick returned to the lineup and Oleksy never saw another sweater. 16 days later, George McPhee gave him a shot at another club by putting Oleksy on waivers. No bites, so Steve reported to Hershey, where he recorded 6 assists in 30 games (with 39 PIMs, yeah buddy).
For whatever reason, Oates preferred Connor Carrick’s play over Oleksy’s. Even when Oleksy was playing, he got soft deployments (in the offensive zone, against weaker opponents), which might betray that Oates knew something we didn’t about Oleksy’s play. I kinda doubt it though. I don’t really interpret his reassignment to the AHL as a reflection on his play. Too many other decisions made at the Caps this season seemed just as arbitrary, and while I didn’t get particularly worked up when Oleksy got waived I can now see why others did.
One part of running a hockey club is the cold calculus of excising weaker players. Oleksy wasn’t a weaker player, as far as I can tell, and he deserves another shot at the bigs.
Oleksy on RMNB
- Oleksy played at Verizon Center for Hershey in February. When Chris asked him about returning, Steve said, “It was pretty tough. Over the last year, this place felt like home.” Try not to cry into your burrito at lunch.
- Ian collected some of Oleksy’s best Caps moments. It makes a great companion to this article, so click on over.
- Eric Fehr was using Oleksy’s sticks when he broke through this season. I wonder how long he kept using them.
- Oleksy threw Brooks Laich a bone when Laich needed a bone thrown.
- Lecavalier, who looks weird in Orange, vs Leksy, who looks awesome in blood.
This is how Steve thanked Caps on his way out of town. Class act and he needs to charge his phone.
Oleksy nearly played baseball instead of hockey. If that’s his batting stance, I think he chose wisely.
You put the puck on the net and good things will ha— how the hell did that go in?!
Goddamn he’s cool. Even Alan May was like, “Damn, that’s cool.”
And let’s wrap up with the classic: Oleksy losing a skate blade and stumbling back to the bench. Please watch the whole GIF set. It still cracks me up.
Why do you think Oates didn’t play Oleksy? Seriously: Why? Do you think he’ll get another shot at the NHL and do you think he deserves one?
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