It would be a disservice not to mention and reminisce on the great career Olie Kolzig had as an NHLer, but more importantly as a Washington Capital. Kolzig was the face of this franchise for upwards of 15 years. Drafted in 1989, Kolzig played in 719 NHL games and racked up 3o3 wins. Even though Kolzig’s exit from DC wasn’t on the greatest of terms, Kolzig will go down as one of the all-time great Capitals players. There is no question in my mind that the number 37 will soon have it’s place in the rafters. I’m not at all surprised that a poll by Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir had overwhelming support for retiring Kolzig’s number. HERE is a link to the poll if you wish to vote or simply see the results.
I don’t expect Kolzig to take part in any Brett Favre or Roger Clemens shenanigans, so I suspect we won’t be seeing Kolzig on the ice again. So it is this announcement that got me thinking about my favorite Kolzig moments. My favorite moment is unconventional to say the least. The obvious choice would be the spring of 1998 when Kolzig lead the Capitals to the Stanley Cup finals against the Red Wings. Perhaps if the Caps weren’t smothered by the Wings to the tune of a four game sweep my favorite moment would be different. Who can forget the Vezina Trophy Kolzig won that same year. A crowning achievement envied by most goalies who taste life between the pipes in the NHL. Kolzig was also an Olympian competing for his native Germany. I could imagine some die hard fans feeling pride about their goalie representing his country. But none of these moments, in my opinion, come close to what happened November 21, 1998.
It was your typical regular season game. It was only a month into the season so the games didn’t have the same meaning as they did later on, say……after Christmas. The Capitals were playing the Bruins and losing to the count of 2-0. If you remember that ’98 team, the Caps were by no means short on enforcers. Dale Hunter, Craig Berube, and Mark “taunting” Tinordi had no trouble keeping the peace. It all started with tough guys Craig Berube and Don Sweeney throwing the gloves down and proceeding with a typical fight that was basically an assumed occurance. It took all of 30 seconds before it to turn into an all out melee.
Anybody who followed Dale Hunter’s career knows what kind of hockey player he was. He’s been described as dirty and cheap. He was a premier instigator and agitator in his day. So it was to nobody’s real surprise that he gave Byron Dafoe a little love tap which started a chain of events that lead to an extremely rare occurance in hockey. That would be two goalies throwing hay-makers…….at each other! This went on for more than 5 minutes.
The thing that made this so great was that Kolzig, and Bruins netminder, Byron Dafoe were and still are best friends. They were the best men in each others weddings. When was the last time you saw an NHL fight in which the participants were grinning and laughing. This only happens when two best friends drop the gloves with each other. I can even imagine Kolzing and Dafoe drawing this up as a joke while drinking a few beers at a local bar. I’m not suggesting this was planned, but it was almost to good to be spur of the moment. Perhaps we’ll never know. Sure friends fight, but two NHL goaltenders, who are best friend no less, is something I doubt we’ll ever see again. Here is the You Tube clip of the fight . It’s a classic and endlessly entertaining.
I know I know, perhaps I’ll get some flack for not picking a moment that truly celebrates Kolzig’s career. I whole heartedly appreciate him as the face of this franchise and for his accomplishments, but the fight with his best friend, Byron Dafoe, has to be my single favorite moment.
About the Author: Jeremy is a life time hockey fan currently living in Washington DC. Jeremy also runs a Capitals blog called The Nation's Capitals where he frequently posts blogs about the state of the Caps. His other interests include music and politics. Jeremy has a degree in Political Science. Being from DC, politics kind of comes with the territory.