Photo courtesy of WashingtonCaps.com
A lot of the talk about the Caps this season has revolved around the goaltending. Kolzig has had an up and down season and Brent Johnson has played well but had battled injuries and the life of a backup to get into the game.
And it's goaltending that tempers our giddiness over a sweep of the first place Sens this morning, with a piece by Post columnist Mike Wise about Kolzig - and the possibility that he may hang up the pads for good.
There's a lot of frustration woven throughout the story, with Kolzig sounding...tired. Uncertain. Annoyed. Vocal about the coach's decision to yank him on Sunday and to bench him last night, although as a veteran Olie should know that the former was more likely to jolt the team and the latter was because he's 37 and had played eleven straight games. Nevertheless there's a hint of resentment in Olie's candor, a little concern that maybe he's not being treated as well as he should be by this organization that he has at times held together all by himself.
You know, as someone who has watched Olie go from gawky draft pick to minor league callup to backup to Vezina trophy winner and beyond, the thought of Olie not being in net even in a reduced role is painful. We were supposed to have two more years. He said he would play until he was forty; we were supposed to have two more years.
We all can admit that Olie has not been himself this year, although we still see flashes of it from time to time. His lateral movement isn't as fast as it used to be; his fivehole is left open a split second too long. He doesn't have the rebound control that he once had. Even the most notorious Olie-apologist can see that he's not where he once was.
Still, while his numbers haven't been that pretty this season it's hard to say that he's not someone we still trust night in and night out to make the big saves. Give him more nights off. Split the load between him and Johnson. Do what it takes to show we still have faith in him. Maybe it's pure nostalgia that doesn't want to let him go, but it's just not time for Zilla to not be there for us - not now, when the team is finally starting to gel in front of him.
In Wise's piece Olie laments about the loss of Hanlon, who as he says "finally had a team he deserved". The same can be said for Kolzig - what Caps fan wouldn't want to see this team get to the show, just one more time, for Olie? This is a guy who, in his prime, dismissed talk that he would leave the Caps for a "contender", vowing to stay in the nation's capital through the tough times. Nothing is a sure bet, he said, and if he was going to win a Cup he wanted it to be with the Caps; if not, c'est la vie.
That's a guy you want to keep. That's a player you need on your team, even in a reduced role. That's someone you don't let go. Someone who has been the face, the heart, the soul, the voice and the backbone of this organization. That's a guy you hang on to as long as possible.
Say it ain't so, Olie...say it ain't so.