Olaf Kolzig faces the Capitals
It is going to be an interesting evening Monday when the Lightning faces the Capitals at the Verizon Center and Olaf Kolzig faces his former teammates. Kolzig has never been shy about saying how emotional was his breakup with Washington, with which he played 16 seasons. But Kolzig, classy as always, said all the right things about his former employer.
"I still wish it hadn't ended the way it did," Kolzig said, but added that "there's no bitterness. Obviously, going out there tomorrow, I want to beat them as bad as anybody, but there's no malicious feelings or anything like that."
Kolzig said he just wishes there had been some better communication after Washington traded for goaltender Cristobal Huet and pushed Kolzig to a backup role. Kolzig's relationship with Capitals general manager George McPhee was a strong one, Kolzig said. But he said he and McPhee did not speak after Huet was acquired. Kolzig said the lack of communication from the team was part of the reason he decided to leave after the season and contemplated retirement.
"I understand the trade fell in his lap, but there was really no communication for the eight weeks after the trade deadline," Kolzig said. "George did try to reach out to me the next day after Game 7 (of the East quarterfinal), when we had our meetings. But I thought at that point I had already made my mind up and there was no point for me to talk. I thought there was plenty of time in those eight weeks before the season ended to talk and it never happened, so I just kind of moved on."
Kolzig, 38, said as he got more removed from the season he determined he still had something left to give to the game and signed with the Lightning. While he wishes he was playing more -- he is 1-1-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage -- he gets the Mike Smith phenomenon.
"Obviously, I'd love to play more, but I understand he's a 26-year-old, and the organization is trying to establish him as a No. 1," Kolzig said. " He's taken the ball and run with it. ... he's played fantastic. And, true to my word, I'm going to be there to support him It's his time."
As for how he thinks he will be received by Caps fans, Kolzig said, "I don't know. I really don't. I expect to be received pretty well, but they always say expect the unexpected."
We'll have more on Kolzig in Monday's paper.