Since he retired two years ago, former NHL goaltender Olie Kolzig
was able to spend some time with his family and take his kids to "all the things that dads normally do."
He said he needed a little bit of time away from the game, some time to reintroduce himself to his family.
After two years, though, he "started to get the hockey itch again."
That's when the Washington Capitals
gave him a call. It was perfect timing.
On Thursday, the Capitals announced the hiring of Kolzig, their former Vezina Trophy winner, as the team's associate goaltender coach.
Dave Prior, Kolzig's former mentor, will return as the team's goaltender coach.
"I'm ecstatic to finally come back basically to the place I call home," Kolzig said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. "When Dave Prior called to pitch the idea, I thought to myself, 'There's probably not a better person I want to work with and an organization I'd rather be back with.'"
Kolzig, 41, played in 711 games as a Capital from 1989-2008. He owns nearly every all-time Capitals goaltending record including games played, wins (301), shutouts (35) and minutes (41,259) and ranks fourth (minimum 3,000 minutes played) in goals-against average (2.70) and third in save percentage (.906).
"We are excited to add a familiar face to our staff in Olie Kolzig
," Washington General Manager George McPhee
said in a press release. "Olie had a tremendous impact on this franchise as a goaltender as well as an individual, and we are looking forward to him having the same impact as a coach."
The Johannesburg, South Africa, native was the recipient of the 2000 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the League's top goaltender. The two-time NHL All-Star was also named the 2005-06 King Clancy
Memorial Trophy winner, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.
Kolzig is a three-time German Olympian and appeared in 719 career NHL games with Washington and Tampa Bay before retiring in 2009.
Kolzig, who the Capitals drafted with the 19th pick of the 1989 Entry Draft, helped guide Washington to the franchise's only Stanley Cup Final in 1998.
In the latter part of his career, he was teammates with several current Capitals, including captain Alex Ovechkin
, Nicklas Backstrom
, Alexander Semin
and Mike Green
Kolzig said he is excited to reunited with those players -- and also work with the team's three goaltenders, who he said each bring something different to the table.
Kolzig met Michal Neuvirth
briefly toward the end of his career, and said the young goaltender is poised and never seems to get too rattled. Kolzig called Seymon Varlamov "explosive and talented," while Kolzig sees similarities between himself and 21-year-old Braden Holtby
, as the two share the same temperament and competitive behavior.
"I don't know if there's an organization that has such depth at such a young age," Kolzig said.
Meanwhile, Kolzig said he's also excited to work under Prior, who he said was like a father figure to him.
Prior, who worked in the Capitals organization as a goalie coach this past season, spent 12 seasons as the Capitals' primary goaltending coach from 1996-2009. Prior coached Kolzig for 11 seasons, including Kolzig's Vezina-winning season (1999-2000).
In Prior's tenure, Washington goalies posted three of the five lowest team goals-against averages in franchise history. Before joining the Capitals' coaching staff, Prior was a goaltending coach for the Stars, Red Wings, Sharks and Winnipeg Jets
. He mentored goalies on the German National team and spent seven years working with the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.
Both Prior and Kolzig will attend the Capitals' Rookie Development Camp, running from July 11-16 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va.