- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

CHICAGO — With a personality as large as his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame, Olie Kolzig has long been a Washington fan favorite. But as the reality of the Caps’ worst season in 22 years sunk in and his name popped up in trade rumors, Kolzig’s mood darkened.

In mid-December, Kolzig stopped talking to the media on practice days and only answered questions after games.

Yesterday after he stopped all 38 Chicago Blackhawks shots and recorded just his second shutout of the year in a 4-0 Washington victory at United Center, the 33-year-old Kolzig finally addressed those trade rumors.

“When the rumors started coming two months ago, it affected me a little bit because I had never been involved in any trade talks in my career so I didn’t know how to deal with it,” he said. “But now, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I have no control over it. I just go out and play. If I get the call from George [McPhee, the Caps’ general manager] that I’m going somewhere else, then I had 14 great years here and I’ll do the job somewhere else.”

Kolzig was Washington’s top pick in the 1989 draft and has been its No.1 goalie the last seven seasons.

“My heart’s still with Washington,” Kolzig added. “This is where I’ve played my whole career and where I hope to finish my career. There are 20 guys I care a lot about in this room. We’ve been though a lot this year. We just want to finish the season off strong and see where it takes us in the future. If I remain here, great. If not, I have good memories.”

McPhee said before the game that since the Caps dealt Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers on Jan.23 — a financially driven deal — he has had many conversations with his fellow GMs about trades. However any trade involving the Caps’ most valuable commodities — Kolzig, Sergei Gonchar, Peter Bondra and Robert Lang — would have to be “a hockey deal.” The trade deadline is March9.

Scouts from 12 teams were at yesterday’s game, but Kolzig, who is 15-28-5 with a 2.94 goals against average, didn’t care.

“It doesn’t matter who’s watching me,” said the 2000 Vezina Trophy winner. “My job is to win games and stop the puck whether it’s the last game of the year, the first game of the year or whether we’re in the playoffs or not. I try to do the same job every night. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not. Tonight I was.”

Said Caps coach Glen Hanlon, a 14-year NHL goalie: “Olie has been solid all year, but when you put 20-plus scoring chances on a goalie, eventually there’s going to be a bad-luck goal. If you give Olie a reasonable opportunity, with four or five scoring chances against him in the first half of the game, he’s pretty tough coming down the stretch.”

Bondra broke the scoreless tie at 5:34 of the second period with his 21st of the season on a power-play assist from Gonchar and Jeff Halpern. Just 65 seconds later, defenseman Rick Berry, playing left wing for a second straight game because center Dainius Zubrus was injured and forwards Kip Miller and Alexander Semin were scratched, worked the puck free along the boards. Darcy Verot quickly passed to Stephen Peat, whose third whack at it trickled between Craig Anderson’s pads for his first goal in 26 games dating to Oct.31.

Kolzig preserved his shutout by stoning Igor Korolev in front at 16:30 of the second.

After a weak power play to start the third period, Brian Willsie fed Matt Pettinger for a wide-open, one-timed backhand from the slot at 2:07 for his first in 29 games. Kolzig maintained the margin by thwarting Steve Sullivan’s shorthanded rush at 6:46. Lang extended his scoring streak to eight games by setting up Anson Carter’s 2-on-0 goal with 1:50 left.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide