Olie “The Goalie” Kolzig Retires

September 23, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

From the NHLPlayers Association (NHLPA):

After 14 seasons, veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League.

Kolzig, 39, a two-time NHL All-Star (1998, 2000) and former Vezina Trophy winner (2000), appeared in a total of 719 NHL games, 711 of those with the Washington Capitals. His 303 career wins rank him 21st all-time among goaltending wins leaders. Olaf also posted a career 2.71 GAA along with a .906 save percentage and 35 shutouts.

“I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to play the game of hockey at the NHL level for many seasons and I am grateful for everything the game has given me,” said Kolzig. “I would like to thank my family, all my teammates and the fans for making my time in the NHL so special.”

Drafted 19th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, Kolzig, 39, was the first South African-born player to be drafted into the NHL. Prior to joining the Capitals on a full-time basis, Kolzig played his junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL). On November 29, 1989, Kolzig achieved a rare feat for a goaltender when he scored a goal while with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.

“Olie” or “Godzilla” as he came to be known to fans and teammates, made his NHL debut in the 1989-90 season with the Capitals. While Kolzig appeared in game action with the Capitals in both the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, he steadily began earning more playing time in 1994-95 in Washington. From the 1997-98 season through until the 2007-08 season, Kolzig provided exceptional play as the Capitals’ starting goaltender.

In the 1997-98 NHL season, Kolzig led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. During those playoffs, Kolzig amassed four shutouts and posted a 1.95 GAA. Kolzig’s finest season came in 1999-00 with the Capitals, when he recorded 41 wins, including five shutouts and a 2.24 GAA. That season, Kolzig also played in the All-Star game, was named to the NHL First All-Star Team and captured the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.

During his time as the Capitals’ starting goaltender, Kolzig was one of the most popular players in franchise history. Following the 2007-08 season, Kolzig signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. An injury cut his 2008-09 season with the Lightning short, with Kolzig playing just eight games. He was then dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline.

Kolzig, born in Johannesburg, South Africa, also holds German citizenship, which has enabled him to represent Germany in numerous international hockey competitions. At the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Olaf helped lead Germany to two wins during the tournament, a competition that featured the best players from around the world for the first time in Olympic history. Kolzig’s other international hockey experiences representing Germany include: the World Championships (1997, 2004), the World Cup of Hockey (1996, 2004), and the 2006 Torino Olympics.

Kolzig is a dedicated humanitarian and supporter of many charities. He and his wife founded the Carson Kolzig Foundation in support of their son Carson. Kolzig also co-founded Athletes Against Autism, along with former NHL players Byron Dafoe and Scott Mellanby, and he received the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2006 for his leadership qualities and humanitarian contributions.

“While I appreciate everything the game has given me and certainly will miss it, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and remaining involved in hockey in some capacity,” Kolzig added.

Olaf and his wife Christin will reside in Kennewick, WA with their three children.

Statement from Capitals chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis:

“Olie was the face of the Capitals franchise for years, on the ice, in the locker room and around Washington, D.C. He was a great Capital and the organization and our fans will always have fond memories of ‘Olie the Goalie.’ We wish him and his wonderful family all the best in his retirement.”

Kolzig retires with a number of Capitals goaltending records, including:

– Career games played (711), minutes (41,259), wins (301), save percentage (.906), saves (18,013) and shutouts (35)

– Single season games played (73, 1999-00), minutes (4,371, 1999-00), wins (41, 1999-00) and save percentage (.920, 1997-98)

My Comment: Olie carried the Caps to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. The Caps biggest problem back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, when they had some very talented teams, was goaltending and I always thought that if Olie had been 5 years older or didn’t suffer so many injuries early in his career, which delayed his development, that the Caps would already own a Stanley Cup by now. Olie is a very stand up and good guy who had a burning desire to compete. He was well liked in the organization from when he was drafted throughout his entire stay in Washington. In the next year or so there will likely be an Olaf Kolzig night at the Verizon Center and it will be a “Can’t Miss” event. Thanks Olie for so many good years with the Caps.