When he retired from the NHL, Olie Kolzig didn’t have any indication that he would want to get into coaching but after two years off he “started to get the itch” to get involved in hockey once again.
Kolzig found his outlet in the last year mentoring the goaltenders on the Tri-City Americans, a Western Hockey League team that he co-owns. As Kolzig began pondering getting back into the NHL, Dave Prior contacted him about becoming the Capitals’ associate goaltending coach.
“I guess you call it fate,” Kolzig said during a conference call with reporters. “Dave approached me with the perfect way to get back into it. It’s not a full time schedule but it allows me to work with the kids and see if it’s something I want to do long term, maybe be a head [goaltending coach].”
Prior will handle the day-to-day demands as positional coach and director of goaltending, roles he held from the 1996-97 season to 2008-09. Kolzig will be around part-time and tutor young goaltenders in the various levels (AHL, ECHL) of the organization, as well as those in Washington.
“I’m ecstatic to finally come back to, basically, the place I call home,” Kolzig said. “I thought there’s just not a better person that I want to work with and an organization that I want get back with.”
General Manager George McPhee said that once the team knew Arturs Irbe wouldn’t return it was a fairly efficient process to install Prior and Kolzig as goaltending coaches.
“We knew we had an opening and Dave Prior had mentioned that he’d be interested in directing the department again,” McPhee said. “There were some things that he wanted to do and was ready to assume that role again. He did a real good job for us there before. So that worked in terms of the change. And then finding someone else to bring in and work with Dave – first choice was Olie.
“We had actually talked to [Kolzig] about it a few years ago,” McPhee continued. “And he wasn’t ready at that time, but seems to be ready now, is excited about it and probably is a little bit nervous, too. He obviously wants to be good at it and is hoping that he can be. The time was right to do it.”
Kolzig said that he harbors no ill will toward the Capitals from the circumstances surrounding his departure from Washington in 2008, adding that his involvement with the front office side of the Tri-City Americans gave him perspective.
“You realize it’s a business and things were handled in a business fashion,” Kolzig said.