Coffee and homemade rinks: How former Capital Steven Oleksy is keeping busy off the ice

How former Capital Steven Oleksy is keeping busy off the ice originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Even though his playing career is over, former Capitals defenseman Steven Oleksy hasn’t slowed down. In fact, he might be busier off the ice than he ever was on it. 

Oleksy joined Alan May and Craig Laughlin on Capitals Pregame Live Thursday night to reminisce about his playing days but also discuss his many post-retirement ventures, including a budding coffee company and his thriving summer league. 

“I started [coffee] later on in my career, trying to find a way to get out and things like that as we get older,” Oleksy said. “So I turned to coffee, and I was doing coffee for me, my friends, my family, my teammates, so I decided to take it a step further and I started a coffee company, ‘Elite Coffee Co.'” 

Founded in Michigan in 2020, Oleksy hopes to take his coffee company further by creating custom blends for players and celebrities. Maybe even a custom coffee line for Laughlin as well. 

“The plan is to roll out custom blends for players, and media personnel, so I’ll have to talk about [Laughlin’s] coffee likes and dislikes,” Oleksy said. 

Oleksy’s story is an inspirational one. He was never supposed to make it to the NHL, he wasn’t drafted and spent eight years working his way through the minors before catching on with the Caps in 2013. Once he got there he stayed within the organization, whether with Caps or the Hershey Bears, until 2015. 

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Then, he made his way over to Pittsburgh, spending two years with their AHL affiliate before getting called up to the show the same year the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2017. It wasn’t the most common path to take to the NHL and an eventual Stanley Cup championship, but not every player gets to be a high draft pick and enjoy a successful 10-year career. 

The thought that he’d never make it to the NHL is actually what prompted him to start Eastside Elite Hockey, a popular summer league that features players from every level. 

“I never expected to make a career playing hockey so I always wanted to have something to step to,” Oleksy said. “As I developed it, it was a summer league for all the top pro, college and junior guys and we’ve kind of moved into AAA. One of the things I’ve enjoyed teaching guys is I can speak on experiences, and my ride isn’t obviously the one you draw up in a notebook when you’re growing up, so I like to talk to them about the mental side of things.

“I generally deal with about 450 hockey players from youth level, high school, women’s hockey, pro, college, junior,” he said. “I like to share my experiences with them and understand their story as well, so it’ll help me educate guys in the future or women in the future as well.” 

Another advantage of retirement after a long run playing hockey for 16 different teams at several levels of the game is extra time with family. Oleksy has enjoyed the time with his brother, dad and nephew, just not in a relaxed way. 

They built an ice rink outside in his dad’s backyard, because of course they did. 

“With me playing and being away for the seasons, my dad and brother put in a lot of sweat equity into that ice arena,” Oleksy said. “It’s the first time in six years we’ve had consistent cold weather here in Michigan and we were able to play on it. Last Saturday, we had a pickup game. It was the first of many, I’m sure, and hopefully the weather cooperates with us.

“For me, my father, my brother and my nephew to be able to skate on the same rink all at the same time and in my parents’ backyard is something very very special.”

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