Walters: Team USA’s Oshie a star in waiting
By Charley Walters
St. Paul Pioneer Press
America discovered T.J. Oshie early Saturday morning. The marketing will come later.
“Between about 6:30 and 11 in the morning, a lot changed in his life and our lives,” Dean Grillo said.
Grillo and his O2K Management firm represent Oshie, who startled the hockey world Saturday by connecting on four shootout goals in the USA’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Russia in the Olympics in Sochi.
Grillo is no slick East Coast or West Coast agent. He lives in Brainerd, Minn. He and his business partners did Oshie’s St. Louis Blues contract — Oshie is in the second year of a
$20.9 million, five-year deal — and will huddle with the former Warroad High star when he returns from Russia to consider opportunities his accomplishments in Sochi will bring.
There already have been dozens of requests for Oshie’s time.
“Basically, the first 48 hours (since the shootout), every time I checked my phone, there was something,” Grillo said. “It’s fun and it’s busy. We’re just packing it all in right now.”
Oshie’s goal in Sochi is to win the gold medal. His goal with the St. Louis Blues is to win the Stanley Cup.
“So the talk has been to let it play out and then we’ll handle (offers) when he comes home,” Grillo said. “It’s going to be up to him. He may turn around and say he’s got a baby coming in March, so he’s busy right now. He’s got the playoffs in St. Louis. So there’s not a whole lot of time for this now.”
Above all, Grillo said, Oshie, 27, “is just a hockey player — that’s what he wants to be.”
Marketing can get crazy. Since Oshie’s shootout stardom, the Golf Channel has aired a video of his golf swing — he has a 2.4 handicap at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd — and analyzed it, trying to make a case that it correlates to his hockey shot.
“In all honestly, I don’t think T.J. knows what’s going on back here, the magnitude of it,” Grillo said.
Before long, he will. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues come to St. Paul to play the Wild on March 9. That should be quite an evening.
That was 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal defenseman Bob Suter, father of Wild and Olympic defenseman Ryan Suter, accompanied by fellow former University of Wisconsin star Tom Sagissor, headed to Sochi on Tuesday to attend the men’s hockey medal round. They hoped to arrive in time, after 17 hours of flights, to see Ryan play against the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Ryan Suter had three assists in the Americans’ 5-2 victory.
By the way, Procter & Gamble, as well as Gillette — both major sponsors of the Olympics — are hoping for marketing opportunities through the Suters. Bob was to bring his 1980 gold medal to Sochi. More gold in the family would be a nice Olympic touch.
The Twins had four of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in a ranking released Wednesday: Byron Buxton (No. 1), Miguel Sano (6), Alex Meyer (45) and Kohl Stewart (52).
The Gophers men’s basketball team this week moved up to a No. 10 NCAA tournament seed in CBS and ESPN projections.
Football coaches Jerry Kill of the Gophers and Mike Grant of Eden Prairie, as well as the Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve, impressed an audience of nearly 200 at a breakfast fundraiser Wednesday at Target Field.
Their themes: Having fun and making positive impacts on players’ lives. The audience included Joel Maturi, Steve Hutchinson, Trent Tucker and Corey Koskie.
Bud Grant, accompanied by some signed copies of his “I Did It My Way” book, speaks at the CORES luncheon March 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington.
Combo guard Jordair Jett, a St. Bernard’s High grad, three times this season has been the Atlantic 10 Conference player of the week for Saint Louis University (23-2), which this week was ranked No. 10 in the AP men’s basketball poll. Jett, 22, was named after Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan brand.
Don’t print that
The Wild’s Craig Leipold is keenly aware that some of his fellow NHL owners are skeptical about their players competing in the next winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, near Seoul, South Korea, in 2018.
“And I would consider myself one of those owners,” Leipold said last week. “First of all, we need to see how it goes in Russia. We have a lot of time to determine what we’re going to do in Seoul.
“Our players are out of sight, out of mind — they play at 7:30 in the morning on TV here, and it’s going to be even worse when it’s in Seoul. I’ll try to keep my mind open, but right now, I think I’d have a hard time voting to go to Korea.”
Leipold is a passionate owner, attending virtually every Wild game in St. Paul. He’s missing seeing his team play during the Olympics.
“I don’t know what to do at night — there’s no hockey on,” he said. “I’m watching TV shows that I didn’t even know were TV shows. I miss (Wild games), and our fans miss them, too. We’re waiting for our players to come back.”
Gophers forward Joey King, who transferred from Drake to Minnesota this year, asked if it’s been what he expected: “Absolutely. I’ve been having a great sophomore year. Minnesota’s given me a great opportunity to get better, and I couldn’t be happier.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.