- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Washington Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig will miss a minimum of three weeks after he left practice yesterday with a knee injury, general manager George McPhee said.

Brent Johnson will assume the No. 1 goaltender duties in Kolzig’s absence, and McPhee said the team will call up a goalie from the minor leagues, likely Frederic Cassivi from Hershey.

“Stating the obvious, it is a huge blow,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “My initial statement is ‘Boy, we are going to miss him in all areas,’ but that is done and over with, and we will work with him to get him back in there.”

Also yesterday, McPhee announced the Caps have signed left wing Donald Brashear to a one-year, $1.1 million contract extension.

Kolzig’s injury occurred when he shifted across the crease from right to left to block a shot during a 2-on-1 drill. He lay face down on the ice for about a minute before skating off on his own power. He declined to comment while exiting Kettler Capitals Iceplex but was favoring his left leg with a noticeable limp.

The 36-year-old Kolzig is the longest tenured member of the team. He is 19-19-5 with a 3.06 goals against average and a .909 save percentage this season. Kolzig ranks fifth in the NHL with 1,352 saves.

Immediately after Kolzig’s injury there was a significant change in the atmosphere on the ice.

“It was upbeat, and then it just went silent out there,” Caps captain Chris Clark said. “He is the backbone of our team, and to see something go wrong with him, it is pretty frightening for our team.”

Johnson has been a starter in the past, winning 34 games with St. Louis during the 2001-02 season.

He has appeared in 15 games this season and is 4-7-3 with a 3.86 GAA and an .885 save percentage. Johnson, who turns 30 next month, is in his second season with the organization and recently signed a two-year, $1.625 million extension last month.

“It stays the same,” Johnson said of his preparation. “Depending on what is wrong with [Kolzig], it is important for me to keep a steady head and help this team win some games.”

Brashear’s extension comes after he signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Caps in July. The 35-year old Brashear has two goals and seven points in 52 games, but he is known more for his physical presence on the ice.

“It is one of the reasons I came here. I wanted to bring some toughness and some character to the team,” Brashear said. “I knew from playing against them they were getting abused a little bit, and guys like ‘Sudsie’ [Brian Sutherby], ‘Brads’ [Matt Bradley] and [Chris] Clark had to fight. Now I am here, and I can take care of most of it and let those guys play more of a checking role.”

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Brashear leads the team and is fourth in the NHL with 125 penalty minutes. He is known as one of the best fighters in the league but also has the ability to take a regular shift.

“At the end of the day it is way better having a real, true deterrent,” Hanlon said about the by-committee approach the team utilized last season. “He is as tough as it gets, and aside from that he’s been a pretty good player for us. What you guys don’t see is that he has been really good with the younger players and he has been a real strong influence off the ice.”

Note — Right wing Richard Zednik did not practice because of illness, while defenseman Mike Green and right wing Eric Fehr were absent with what McPhee deemed “maintenance days.” Injured defensemen Brian Pothier, John Erskine and Bryan Muir all participated in the full workout.

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