Kolzig a No-Show For Caps' Final Day
Thursday, April 24, 2008
When the Washington Capitals emerged from a meeting early yesterday afternoon at their Arlington headquarters, just hours after an excruciating overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, one absence was conspicuous.
Veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig had cleaned out his locker stall and left the building, skipping the mandatory meeting. He did not speak to reporters. After Monday's 3-2 loss at Verizon Center, he stripped his name tag off of his locker stall.
Kolzig, a fixture in the Capitals' net for a decade before being essentially replaced by trade-deadline arrival Cristobal Huet, did not play after a 5-0 loss in Chicago on March 19. In recent weeks, Kolzig seemed increasingly detached as Huet led the Capitals to the franchise's first playoff berth in five years. Kolzig, 38, did not return a message left on his cellphone, and his agent, Art Breeze, declined to describe his client's thought process, other than to say: "The choice will be Olie's as to where he plays next year. But rest comfortably that there will be a multiplicity of options available to him."
Meantime, on a busy breakdown day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, General Manager George McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau revealed that Boudreau recently signed a multiyear contract extension. McPhee declined to specify the terms of the deal, saying only, "He's our coach . . . for a while."
After being tapped to replace Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22, Boudreau led the Capitals to a 37-17-7 record and from last place in the league to the Southeast Division title. The future of assistant coaches Jay Leach and Dean Evason and the rest of the staff, whom Boudreau inherited from Hanlon, will be determined over the summer, McPhee said.
"He was exceptional and exceeded all expectations," McPhee said of Boudreau. "Maybe we should have known better. To do what he did to get us to the playoffs, and then in the playoffs, midstream, changes the lines and completely change the power play, that's pretty good evidence that he knows what he's doing."
Boudreau said he plans to begin house-hunting in Maryland.
"I'm going to be coaching the Caps for a while," Boudreau said with a smile.
While the coach won't change, the makeup of the Capitals' roster might.
High on McPhee's must-do list in the coming months will be re-signing Huet, who went 11-2 with a 1.63 goals against average and a .936 save percentage in 13 regular season starts in Washington. But the 32-year-old figures to be the big catch in a shallow pool of free agent goaltenders.
"If he wants to stay, we'll try to get a deal done," McPhee said of Huet, who stands to earn a significant raise from the $2.75 million he earned this season.
Locking up Mike Green long-term is just as critical for McPhee. Green blossomed into a top defenseman, posting 18 goals, most in the NHL at his position, in the regular season. In the playoffs, he had three goals and seven points, tied with Calgary's Dion Phaneuf for the most among defensemen. Green, who revealed yesterday he was significantly limited during Monday's game by a hip pointer he had suffered in the previous game, could attract an offer sheet if he and the Capitals fail to agree to a contract before July 1. The 22-year-old could earn as much as $4 million to $5 million per season.