"Olie the Goalie" Back with Capitals

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, June 16, 2011 | , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals today announced that Olaf Kolzig, known as Olie the Goalie and Godzilla to legions of Caps fans, has joined the team as Associate Goaltender Coach, joining his longtime coach Dave Prior, who was announced as Director of Goaltending and NHL Goaltender Coach.

These moves were made in response to Arturs Irbe resigning for personal reasons two weeks ago.

“We are excited to add a familiar face to our staff in Olie Kolzig,” said Caps GM George McPhee via press release. “Olie had a tremendous impact on this franchise as a goaltender as well as an individual, and we are looking forward to him having the same impact as a coach.”

Both Kolzig and Prior will attend the Captials' Rookie Development Camp in July.

Kolzig, perhaps the most favored former-Capital due to his long service with the team and tremendous amount of public relation and philanthropic work in the community, appeared at the Capitals Convention before last season and lamented to fans in a Q&A session how his tenure ended in D.C., expressing a strong desire to be more active in the Capitals community in his retirement.

As far as this space is concerned, Olie never should have been allowed to leave in the first place, and we're more than happy that he's back where he belongs -- and his No. 37 is one step closer to joining Yvon Labre, Rod Langway, Dale Hunter and Mike Gartner hanging from the rafters of Verizon Center.

From the Caps:

Kolzig, 41, played in 711 games as a Capital from 1989-90 through 2007-08. He currently owns nearly every all-time Capitals goaltending record, including games played, wins (301), shutouts (35) and minutes (41,259) and ranks fourth (minimum 3,000 minutes played) in goals-against average (2.70) and third in save percentage (.906). In terms of single-season records, Kolzig leads in games (73), minutes (4,371), wins (41) and is second (minimum 1,200 minutes) in goals-against average (2.20), save percentage (.920) and shutouts (6).

The Johannesburg, South Africa, native was awarded the 2000 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goalie, and was named the 2005-06 King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner (awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community). He was also named to two NHL All-Star teams (1998 and 2000) as a member of the Capitals.

A former Caps first-round draft pick (19th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Kolzig helped guide Washington to its only Stanley Cup Final in 1998. During his final season with the Caps in 2007-08, Kolzig was teammates with several current Capitals, including captain Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. The three-time German Olympian (1998, 2002 – sat out due to injury and 2006) appeared in 719 career NHL games with Washington and Tampa Bay before retiring in September 2009.

Prior spent 12 seasons as the Capitals goaltending coach from 1996-97 through the 2008-09 season, including 11 seasons coaching KolzigVezina-winning season (1999-2000) and the Caps 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. The Capitals won four divisional championships and made six playoff appearances during Prior’s tenure.

Before joining the Capitals’ coaching staff, Prior worked as a goaltending coach for the Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets. In addition, the native of Guelph, Ontario, gained international experience mentoring goalies on the German National Team and spent seven years working with the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.