“Time heals all wounds.” – Olie Kolzig (Photo credit: Joe Lavelle)
Olie Kolzig is back! Three years after the fan favorite goalie lost his starting role to Cristobal Huet and left on bad terms the club with which he had spent his entire NHL career, Kolzig has rejoined the Capitals as associate goaltender coach. In his new role, Kolzig will assist Dave Prior, who regains the title of goaltender coach he gave up in 2009 to spend more time with his family. Arturs Irbe took over for Prior but decided not to return for the 2011-12 season, citing reasons similar to Prior’s when he left his coaching job.
“I’m ecstatic to finally come back basically to the place I call home — playing there for so long,” Kolzig told reporters on a conference call. “Being away for two years, I started to get the itch again to get involved again with hockey. … When Dave Prior called me a few weeks back and pitched the idea of coming back and being an associate goaltending coach and working with him, I thought there’s probably not a better person that I want to work with and an organization that I want to be back together with.”
And Kolzig wasn’t the only one who found it a perfect match.
Photo by Chris Gordon
On Monday, the AHL formally inducted four new members into its American Hockey League Hall of Fame: Maurice Podoloff, Larry Wilson, Harry Pidhirny, and Mitch Lamourex. Foster Hewitt Award-winning broadcaster Mike Emrick was the master of ceremonies, while Caps’ head coach Bruce Boudreau served as the keynote speaker.
Among the honorees at the event was former Capitals great Olaf Kolzig. Kolzig, in Hershey to serve as the Eastern Conference’s Honorary Captain at the All-Star Game, was recognized for his six stellar seasons in the AHL. Olie backstopped the Rochester Americans to the Calder Cup Finals in 1993 and won the championship with the Portland Pirates in 1994, where he was also named playoffs MVP.
After the induction ceremony concluded, I caught up with Kolzig downstairs at the media luncheon in the Hershey Theatre. With the rare opportunity to speak to a childhood hero, I asked Kolzig about the Capitals’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, the playoffs meltdown last year, and why he reunited with the team after their messy divorce three seasons ago.
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