Former Capitals great Olie Kolzig has been hired as Washington’s new associate goaltender coach, the team announced Thursday. The Capitals also detailed that Dave Prior, who spent 12 years coaching the team’s netminders, will resume his role as director of goaltending and as the principal NHL goaltending coach.
According to a team spokesman, Prior will work mainly in Washington with the NHL netminders, while Kolzig will help develop the organization’s prospects in Hershey and South Carolina along with those in Capitals sweaters. Both Prior and Kozlig will be working with young players at development camp in July.
Prior, who was on Washington’s hockey operations staff last season as goaltender development coach, and Kolzig will jointly replace Arturs Irbe, who chose not to return to the Capitals after serving as goaltending coach for the past two years.
On his blog, Ted’s Take, owner Ted Leonsis welcomed both Kolzig and Prior to their new roles.
“I am so pleased to welcome back Dave Prior as our chief goaltending coach,” Leonsis wrote. “He is a real talent and very experienced in helping young goaltenders to develop. I would also like to thank Arturs Irbe for his remarkable stint as a goaltending coach for us as well these last two seasons.
“I am so very excited to welcome into the coaching ranks Olie Kolzig. Olie is an all-time great Washington Capital,” Leonsis continued. “He is a man of high integrity, skill and experience. He took us to the playoffs on so many occasions; helped us to get to the Stanley Cup Finals; won a Vezina Trophy; and will help inject very high levels of competition into our goaltenders and our team in general!”
Kolzig, 41, returns to the Capitals more than three years after he last wore the sweater that he is most identified with. It’s a reunion that indicates all is well in the relationship between the franchise and its long-time goaltender.
In 2008, Kolzig was relegated to the bench during Washington's playoff run after the team acquired Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline that year. When the Capitals were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, Kolzig removed the nameplate from his locker stall. After 711 games in 16 seasons with the Capitals, Kolzig wouldn’t return but would retire after making brief stops in Tampa Bay and Toronto, never playing a game for the latter.
“We are excited to add a familiar face to our staff in Olie Kolzig,” General Manager George McPhee said in a news 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.”
Both McPhee and Kolzig are scheduled to speak with reporters this afternoon.