Friday, May 09, 2008

Farewell, Olie

It's a sad day for Caps fans.

No, it may not be unexpected or surprising. But hearing the news that Olie Kolzig is cutting ties with the organization that drafted him, whether it's for another team or retirement, makes official something that always seemed an abstract thought, a "what if", a someday...and it's sad. Heartbreaking.

Sure, he's lost a step or two over the years and he's no longer a goalie at his peak. But to forget or diminish the impact he's had on this team for the last nineteen years because of one season is to do him a tremendous disservice. So many years, so many seasons, so many games in which he was the difference maker, he's earned the respect of every player he's played with and every fan who watched him play.

Wherever he may end up next year and in the years to come, I echo owner Ted Leonsis's sentiments in saying that I will always see Olie as a Cap. It didn't matter if he was wearing red, white and blue or blue, black and bronze, who was captain and what team was in front of him and what coach was behind the bench - Olie has always been a constant, a stalwart between the pipes.

Over the past few years there has been an internal conflict for many of us who have been around long enough to remember the Zilla in his prime. We've struggled between the tendency to view him through nostalgia-tinted glasses and the need to see him realistically, from the perspective of a hockey fan and only a hockey fan. We've struggled with fierce loyalty to the man who has shown us nothing but the same and the harsh reality that he's not 25 years old anymore.

Right now, though, we should see him only as he is - the face, the backbone, the voice, the cornerstone, the leader, and the heart and soul of the team. He bows out the way he has played his whole career, full of class and emotion and honor. When he finally hangs up the pads, whenever that may be, it won't be long before #37 is raised to the rafters - and you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks it doesn't belong there.

We should remember him extending that long leg or flashing the glove to make a game-saving stop. Remember him tackling opponents in the crease or throwing a punch, coming down the ice to "talk" to Ed Belfour or "fighting" with Byron Dafoe. Remember him earning win #1, #100, #200. Win #300, still so fresh in our memory. Remember his work in the community and his role in the locker room and his place in our hearts.

So from a grateful Caps fan, a grateful CapsNation, best of luck, Olie. Thanks for everything you've done on and off the ice...and thanks for the memories.

You'll surely be missed.


Chris & Sarah said...

Such a genuinely classy guy, he was instantly my favourite Capital. It is heartbreaking to see him go, and I wish him nothing but the best. Didn't Olie deserve better, though, in the end? I'm not disputing that the team's management did what needed to be done (bringing in Huet)for the team and I think if we can sign Huet it would be great. But couldn't Olie have been treated better? Why didn't they sit down and talk to him about it so he could hear it straight from them? After all, Kolzig did give his entire career to Washington, couldn't they show him some respect?


Dan, Jr. said...

It would have been nice if he had gotten just one chance to be the hero again after Huet was shakey for a couple games in the playoffs. I will have nothing but fond memories of Olie Kolzig. He has always been such a great man. I'll miss him a great deal. If he comes back to DC guarding somebody else's goal, I'll still cheer for him. Best wishes to one of the best to ever wear a Capitals sweater. Thank you Olie. And thank you CC for this wonderful and truthful blog post.

Caps said...

Love you Olie. Thank you for everything you gave us. Both as fans of the team & as residents of the DC metro area. Your influence will be sorely missed.

Scott said...

Off topic, but take a look at this. You're welcome ;-)

CapsChick said...

Scott, that is the greatest thing I've ever...ever...seen. Thank you so much!! The legend of the magical spearing midget will live on thanks to you ;)