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Q&A With Olie Kolzig

I went by Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning hoping to catch up with Olie Kolzig, and sure enough, there was No. 37 on the ice with Brent Johnson, Boyd Gordon, Bryan Pothier, prospect Stephen Werner, Dallas's Jeff Halpern and Florida's David Booth.

The first thing I noticed was Olie's new helmet. It's got the same design as his old 'Zilla' mask, but it's incorporated the new red, white and blue color scheme. It's also got chrome bars instead of gold ones. It looked great, but I was always a big fan of the gold bars since no one else had them. He was also sporting new red, white and blue pads and gloves.

Anyway, Kolzig had some very interesting things to say afterward. Here's the full transcript of the interview:

Q: Do you feel owner Ted Leonsis and GM George McPhee did enough in free agency to make the Caps a playoff team next season?
A: I think they did a great job this summer.
Poti is a guy who will give us someone on the power play and eat up some minutes. He'll also stabilize our back end.
Kozlov is such a talent. When he plays to the level of his talent consistently, he's a scary player. He's also a very nice individual, quiet and unassuming.
And, of course, bringing Michael Nylander back is huge. He's a very underrated player. He's such a puck possession guy. By him controlling the puck, that's going to limit the amount of time we're in our own end. So he's a benefit as far as defense goes, too.
Q: Any remaining voids that you would like to see addressed?
A: You want to be greedy and get more players, no question. But with who we have in this room right now, we are a playoff team. And once you get into the playoffs anything can happen. We just have to give ourselves that chance.
If Backstrom can develop the way everyone thinks he can. The Bouchard kid was impressive at rookie camp. Alzner [has potential]. We've got the makings of being a very good team for a long time. Hopefully that starts coming to fruition this year.
Q: As team leader you're going to be dealing with something you haven't dealt with a lot the past few seasons. People now are going to expect that you win. There's going to be more pressure. How are you going to deal with that?
A: I don't buy that. We put a lot of expectations on ourselves last year. Going into the season, we all felt very good about our team. We wanted to go out and prove people wrong. And up until Christmas, we were right there. Obviously, our problem was depth. We got hit with injury and illness and weren't able to recover. We went out there trying to win every game.
Being a leader of this team, you have to instill that in everybody. Our goal is to make the playoffs. And anything short of that is a disappointment.
This is Year 3 [of the rebuild]. The young guys aren't that young anymore. They've got 100 games, they've got experience. Now we've got to start winning consistently. That's on the shoulders of the players.
Q: How do you feel personally? You're 37 now, how many more years to you want to play?
A: I feel good. I had a good summer of working out and getting my body back in shape. I'm kind of drudging my way through summer hockey right now. To me, of all the other things, it's summer hockey that's going to make me retire.
First of all, you have work twice as hard as you did when you were 25. That's just nature taking over. If you ask all the guys who retire, it's the grind in the summer that gets to you. But I still do it and get through it. I just wish camp would start tomorrow so I could get out of this. Summer hockey is a necessary evil. So I'm anxious to get going.
Q: We've seen goalies maintain a high level into their 40s. Is that something you see for yourself?
A: That's my goal. I've been through the tough times here the past couple of years. And now we're hopefully starting to see the fruit of everyone's labor. This is the time when this team is supposed to blossom. I want to be here when this team peaks. Our goal is take make the playoffs. But I think in the next two or three years we've should have legitimate shot [at contending for a Cup]. I want to be around to experience that.
I feel I'm still competitive. I still have that fire burning. I still feel like I'm one of the top guys in the league. So as long as I feel like that, I don't see why I can't play another three years.
Q: This is the last year of your contract. Have you had any talks with management about an extension?
A: Nope. I'm just going to play hockey and let George and my agent take care of that when the time comes.
Q: Are you concerned at all about Alex Ovechkin's contract situation? Crosby's got his extension. Is this something that could become a distraction for Alex if it's not done soon?
A: That's something Alex is going to have to get through. It's going to get done. Whether it's tomorrow, a month from now or at the end of the year. It's going to get done. There's no question. I just hope it doesn't affect Alex. If he shows signs that it is affecting him, there's enough of us here who have been through it who can pull him aside and say, 'Look, just play hockey and let your agent and GM worry about it.'
It's natural for a young guy to have concerns when you're talking about that much money. But Alex is confident enough and smart enough to know that he's not a borderline player. It's going to get done, especially now that Crosby has his deal.

That's it. Olie clearly doesn't like the summer grind. But he's definitely working hard to get ready for the upcoming season. We'll know soon enough whether everyone else has been doing the same.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 22, 2007; 11:33 AM ET
 
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