Countdown to Caps Convention: Bondra & Kolzig
By Nicole Weissman
I’m taking a break today from my three-part series on Caps players who make good role models for kids – the third part is coming next week. With the Caps Convention coming up on Saturday, I have a few words to say about two Caps alumni who will be in attendance.
503 career goals spanning a career that included the lowest scoring years in modern NHL history, the “Dead Puck Era.” If the number of goals is impressive, the style in which they were scored is even better. Peter Bondra’s blue line slapshot was perfection. It wasn’t the only trick Bondra had up his sleeve, but it was a heck of a good one.
Bondra was Mr. Capitals, the face of this team for almost all of the 13 years he spent here. He was first on the ice and last off of it, and I think we have him to thank for the fact that that hardworking mentality is still with the Caps today.
I thought Peter Bondra would be here his whole career. I think we all did. And I was there at Verizon Center the night after Bondra was traded. Normally, the walls are decorated with cleverly worded banners. That night there were no banners in the stands, save for one sign in the shape of a broken heart, with the number 12 in the middle.
If Bondra was the face of the Caps on the ice, Olie Kolzig was the face of the team in the D.C. community. He was a Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender whose chant-worthy saves took us to our first and only Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, but even with those accomplishments, his greatest contributions were off the ice. Among other things, Kolzig co-founded Athletes Against Autism and founded the Carson Kolzig Foundation for Youth Autism in honor of his son, who was diagnosed with autism during Olie’s time with the team. For his humanitarian work, Kolzig was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2006. He started a tradition of giving back that I hope will be with this team forever.
The end of Olie Kolzig’s story is a sad one, too. Kolzig did not start during the Caps’ seven games against Philadelphia in the 2008 playoffs before becoming a free agent in July. For a goaltender with a flare for drama, going out without a bang was a terrible disappointment both for Olie and for his adoring fans.
If you’re going to Caps Convention, don’t miss the opportunity to meet these two great players. But that’s not why I really wrote this post. As a fan, I was disappointed by how these two players’ careers in D.C. ended. I think the fact that they come back here for events like this one is a testament to what great guys they are, and I think the long lines to get their autographs will speak to the fact that they are legends here. I encourage the Caps to make these two remarkable team members Capitals forever by retiring their numbers at the start of next season.
Box Seats blogger
| October 1, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories: Capitals, Nicole Weissman | Tags: Capitals, Nicole Weissman
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