Ollie Kolzig said he seriously considered retiring after leaving the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent; that is, before the Lightning presented him with a situation that "made sense."
Now the 38-year-old goaltender, with a one-year, $1.5-million contract, is talking about proving, "I can still be a dominant goalie in the NHL," and that last season "was more an aberration than anything."
That he will try with Tampa Bay instead of Washington, where he spent his previous 16 seasons, is going to be "weird."
"Once I made the decision I wasn't going back to Washington, I was really contemplating retirement because I didn't know how I'd be able to handle putting on another jersey," Kolzig said. "But as the weeks went on after the season, you realize, 'I still have a lot to give to this game, and I don't want to end my career on the way things went last year.' ''
Kolzig was 25-21-6 in 54 games with a 2.91 goals-against average and an .892 save percentage, tied for third-worst among 44 NHL goalies. He did not play after a 5-0 March 19 loss to Chicago, and watched as his team, with Cristobal Huet in net, lost in seven games to the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Washington Post reported there also were communication issues with general manager George McPhee as Huet was obtained at the trade deadline.
"There's no question I use it as a motivating factor," Kolzig said of his ending in Washington. "I don't hold any grudges. I wish things would have been handled differently and didn't end the way they did. But that's the business of hockey, and as an athlete you move on."
As for fighting for playing time with Mike Smith, the 2000 Vezina Trophy winner said that is part of the business, too.
"I'm not about creating any kind of controversy. I'm all about the team," said Kolzig, who has incentives that could increase his salary to $2.5-million. "Ultimately, it has nothing to do with the other individual. It has to do with a coach's decision. I'll talk with Smitty and make that clear that I look at it as more of a partnership than a competition.
"Obviously, I want to play as much as I can. … I hope Smitty supports me, and if it's Smitty in net, I know I'll support him. It's all about how we can bring the Lightning back to prominence."
WHERE'S FEASTER?: Absent from the team's official player announcements has been general manager Jay Feaster. With Brian Lawton, vice president of hockey operations, handling most contract negotiations and owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie completing a three-headed brain trust for personnel issues, Feaster's duties are diminished. An upcoming meeting with ownership could determine his duties with the team.
SIGNINGS: Tampa Bay announced right wing Evgeny Artyukhin signed a two-year, $1.9-million contract that will pay $900,000 next season. It also announced right wing Mark Recchi signed a one-year deal worth $1.25-million with bonuses that could bump it to $1.5-million, and right wing Brandon Bochenski signed a two-year contract for depth at AHL Norfolk.
GOERTZEN OUT: Head scout Jake Goertzen was fired after 17 years with the organization and a decade of poor drafts.
"It's going to take some time getting used to," Goertzen said of not being with the Lightning.
ODDS AND ENDS: The team on Tuesday is expected to announce Vinny Lecavalier's nine-year, $77-million contract extension. A town hall meeting with Lecavalier, coach Barry Melrose and ownership will be that night at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa and is open to the public. … Forwards Andre Roy and Chris Gratton will not be with the team. ''It's pretty disappointing," Roy said. "I love the city and fans." … The Lightning will hold a rookie camp July 27-Aug. 2 in Victoria, British Columbia.