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Monumental Network provided a live telecast of the Caps Alumni game Thursday to the delights of thousands. During the game’s third period, Washington Capitals radio man John Walton and Comcast SportsNet sideline reporter Al Koken noticed some Caps players watching the game along the boards. After one particularly brutal shift by Olie Kolzig (on defense!), Monumental’s cameras panned to goalie Braden Holtby, flanked by teammates Tom Wilson, Steve Oleksy, and Andre Burakovsky (seen above checking out his guns). Holtby couldn’t stop laughing.

Let’s hope Braden comes back to play in alumni games after he retires. I can’t wait to see how funny he thinks it is then when he can’t fully crouch and a 70-year-old Kolzig is scoring goals on him.

Olie Kolzig (1 of 9)

Washington Capitals alum and new head goaltending coach Olie Kolzig is the franchise’s greatest goalie. From leading the team to its only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1998 to winning the Vezina in 2000, every great Kolzig memory involves him in goalie gear manning the crease (or charging out of it to fight someone).

So it was jarring on Thursday to see Kolzig out of his pads and playing defense, not goal, at the Caps Alumni Game. Kolzig’s nagging hip problem kept him out of net.

But Kolzig did fans a solid, just to help them remember the good times, by wearing his Godzilla-themed mask during his first shift. If you take a look at Chris Gordon‘s photos below, you can see him talking trash from the bench.

Yup, he’s still got it.

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Capitals Promote Olie Kolzig to Head Goaltender Coach

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Early Wednesday, the Washington Capitals announced they have promoted Olie Kolzig and named him the team’s new goaltending coach. Kolzig replaces long-time goalie boss Dave Prior, who spent 14 seasons at the helm and once mentored Kolzig as a player. For the previous two seasons, the former Vezina winner served as associate goaltending coach, mentoring the team’s minor league goalies in Reading and Hershey.

“He played the game for a long time and played at a high level and was arguably the best goaltender this franchise has ever had,” Caps general manager George McPhee said to Mike Vogel. “That experience – coupled with his training and development the last couple of years in teaching – we think suits him well to take over the NHL club now.”

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Michal Neuvirth’s New “Eagles of Washington” Mask

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Photo credit: DaveArt.com

Though recently we’ve seen him in a baseball cap more often than not, Michal Neuvirth‘s got a new mask. As with all Neuvy’s lids, the latest one was done by masterful Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson, who posted pictures on his Facebook page. This is sad news for us at RMNB as Neuvy’s current Olie Kolzig Memorial Mask is a favorite of ours. The old mask lionizes former Capitals great Olie Kolzig on one side along and Czech netminder Jiří Holeček on the other. Neuvy has yet to wear his new mask, so the old one is still around for now.

The new mask features a large image of Washington’s Weagle logo on the front, but with the head chopped off and replaced with a more realistic rendering. The right side, as always, sports an image of Strekov Castle from Neuvirth’s hometown in the Czech Republic.

“Just as usual the design is pumped with details and hidden messages,” Gunnarsson, who designs masks for many NHL goaltenders, including Braden Holtby, wrote on Facebook. “It is so exciting to create a design in old school style mixed with top modern fx.”

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Olie Kolzig bobblehead

Photo credit: Inova Blood Donor Services Facebook page

On March 23rd, Inova Blood Donor Services is holding another blood drive at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. If you’ve never considered donating blood before, this might be the perfect time to do it. Why? Because the giveaway is awesome. Anyone who donates blood will receive an Olie Kolzig bobblehead. And I’m talking a realistic Kolzig bobblehead, not this weird, green-faced alien one I got 15 years ago which scares little children.

So let’s recap. Sign up today, save a life, and get some awesome Caps memorabilia for free in the process. Good deal.

Olie Kolzig

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Olie Kolzig is remembered as the greatest goalie in Capitals history. A staple in Washington’s net for over a decade, Kolzig led the team to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance and became one of the franchise’s most beloved players. These days Kolzig has a different role. In his second year as associate goaltending coach, Kolzig spends his time mentoring the club’s young netminders in both minor leagues. The influence of a veteran has apparently rubbed off on the players– Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth recently added the German goalie’s likeness to his mask, a gesture Kolzig deeply appreciated.

On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Olie The Goalie, who was in Hershey scouting the Bears game. As the NHL season approached, Kolzig gave me his thoughts on the Caps goalie duo, the distractions Braden Holtby faced last season, and what he sees next for Alex Ovechkin. He even told me what he thought of Tom Poti‘s return to hockey and what that could mean for the organization.

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Michal Neuvirth holds up his new mask that has Olie Kolzig painted on the side

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Over the summer, Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson released photos of the new goalie mask he painted for Michal Neuvirth. It was a thing of beauty and something all Capitals fans could appreciate.

One side of the mask features images of Neuvirth’s hometown along with a portrait image of Czech goaltending great Jiří Holeček. On the other side there’s an action shot of Olie Kolzig, the franchise’s leader in wins, juxtaposed with the old Capitals dome logo and stars.

The gesture was not lost on Kolzig, now an associate goaltending coach for the Capitals and technically one of Neuvirth’s coaches.

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Adam Oates Named Co-Coach of Hershey Bears

Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey On Earth

In a move both surprising and logical, the Capitals announced Sunday that Adam Oates would serve as co-coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears with head coach Mark French for the duration of the lockout. Caps assistant coaches Calle Johansson, Tim Hunter, and Blaine Forsythe and goaltending coaches Dave Prior and Olie Kolzig will — in George McPhee’s words — “be involved at different times” and also help out with the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate, Reading Royals.

To adequately take on lockout-loaded teams like Oklahoma City Barons whose roster now features Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz, the Capitals have given their farm team the deepest coaching staff in AHL history.

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Capitals During Wartime: Our Misery is Their Trending Topic

[Ed. note: This is fifth installment of Capitals During Wartime, a series about Washington’s struggles before the 2012 trade deadline. Read previous entries about coaching, negativity, road performance, and centers.]

Everyone has the moment when you realize that the Caps are in serious trouble. You know when mine was, because that’s when I started this Capitals During Wartime series. For Ian, it was Monday night, when he finally admitted to me how worried he was. For the rest of the Internet and the broader hockey community, that moment is right now.

This article documents The Week from Hell, a litany of depressing and infuriating stories about your Washington Capitals. Because we need a single, coherent record of what exactly it was like when things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

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A Primer to the Washington Capitals 2011-2012 Season

Primer to the 2011-12 Capitals Season

If you took a break from hockey after May 4th, when the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs, we completely understand. It was rough. But the new season is here, along with reasons for renewed hope. So in case you’ve been avoiding hockey in general and this blog in particular, we’ve prepared a primer to catch you up.

Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Capitals but were afraid to ask (2011-2012 edition).

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