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Veteran Oleksy helping the Toledo Walleye on and off the ice

In a time when the Fish are having to shuffle the roster and find guys to fill in, they got a huge lift a few weeks back when they signed veteran Steve Oleksy.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Steve Oleksy has been in pro hockey since 2009 and he made it all the way to the NHL with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but this offseason, he was fully prepared to be done playing hockey. 

He had started to prepare for some alumni and charity games when he got the itch to return to the ice. Then came a call from Toledo Walleye head coach Dan Watson.

"(Watson) reached out to me and obviously Toledo's been a special place throughout my career and it's close to home which works out very, very nice to me with everything that I have going on," said Oleksy. "I think the world of (Watson) and the whole staff here so it was a pretty easy conversation when the opportunity presented itself."

"It was panic mode," said Watson. "We had four defensemen going on a road trip. It was a Friday night, 12 o'clock, had a couple of guys called up, so it was one of those things, he wanted to play. He came in, helped us out for a couple of games, probably gave him the itch a little bit, he started feeling it and it progressed from there."

Watson knew they needed bodies and having a relationship with Oleksy over the years helped. He played in Toledo back in 2009 and also in 2019. That familiarity helped.

"We have a great group here," said Oleksy. "I talk about (Watson) and the whole staff, it starts from the top down. The group of guys we have here are unbelievable."

The other twist in all of this is that Oleksy has spent most of his pro career as a defenseman. With the roster changes in Toledo, Oleksy has been flexible and helped the team by playing some forward as well.

Credit: Diane Woodring

"I love it. It's one thing I preach to younger guys and guys that I'm around. You never know, right?" said Oleksy. "I always tell people to play all positions because you see the game from a different perspective. I love playing forward."

With his experience, Oleksy has also been a welcome addition off the ice as well. He’s another veteran that can help in the locker room.

"I try to just cut the tension in the room and just remind guys that you don't get called up based on one game and you don't get cut based on one game," said Oleksy. "Just try to keep the mood light and obviously we have a very, very talented group and everybody plays better when they're having fun so I just try to make it as much fun as possible at the rink."

Credit: Diane Woodring

   

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