Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Olaf Kolzig faces former longtime team, Washington Capitals, tonight

WASHINGTON — Funny the way things creep up on you.

Goaltender Olaf Kolzig said he knew in July, when he signed with the Lightning, that he could face his former team, the Capitals, tonight at the Verizon Center.

But November seemed so far away.

"Now, all of a sudden, it's here," Kolzig said. "The last few days I've been really thinking about it. There's going to be some anxiousness, some nervousness, probably more nervousness than I felt in a long time, maybe even more nervous than my first game in Tampa. It's going to be weird."

This isn't just another player returning to former stomping grounds. Kolzig, 38, played 16 seasons with Washington after it drafted him 19th overall in 1989.

He won 301 regular-season games, was awarded the 2000 Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie and in 1998 led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup final with a 1.95 goals-against average in 21 playoff games, a .941 save percentage and four shutouts, which tied a then-postseason record.

The divorce was messy. Washington's February deadline deal for Cristobal Huet ultimately made Kolzig a backup, and Kolzig decided after the season to leave the club, in part because of what he perceived as a lack of communication with general manager George McPhee.

"I still wish it didn't end the way it did," Kolzig said. "Having said that, I hold no hard feelings or grudges. … Obviously, going out there (today), I want to beat them as bad as anybody, but there's no malicious feelings or anything like that."

Kolzig said leaving was not about Huet. "For me, it was like, well, okay, so, they made this decision. I'm going to try to battle and, if I'm not in there, just support. The relationship I had with George, I thought, was pretty close … but there was really no communication for eight weeks after the trade deadline."

Kolzig said that McPhee "did try to reach out to me," the day after a Game 7 loss in the East quarterfinal. "But 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."

Said McPhee: "When you're in the throws of a playoff drive, there's not a lot to communicate."

He also said he and Kolzig spoke 10 days after the trade deadline. "And there were no issues raised. If I knew something was simmering, I would have talked to him."

Kolzig said he considered retiring but signed with Tampa Bay because "I still have a lot to give this game. It's not about proving Washington wrong. It's proving to myself, and proving to a lot of people, I can still play this game at a high level."

He has so far, going 1-1-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in three games as Mike Smith's backup.

Kolzig said he wants to play more but can't argue with Smith's .934 save percentage (third in the league entering Sunday) and 2.33 goals-against average.

"He's been fantastic," Kolzig said.

And Smith said Kolzig has been "great, a great guy off the ice and a great goaltender for a long time. Obviously, a guy you can look up to and learn from."

How will Capitals fans receive Kolzig?

Kolzig said he expects "pretty well" but added, "They always say expect the unexpected."

"People in Washington love Olie," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told Washington reporters. "I hope … (the fans) give him the applause I think he deserves and the recognition he deserves."

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Olaf Kolzig faces former longtime team, Washington Capitals, tonight 11/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 7:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)

    Tranckandfieldpreps

    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  2. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  4. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.