Date of Last Contract:November 9, 1998
Signed Through: 2001-2002 Season
Capitals Make a Save, Re-Sign Kolzig
By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 10, 1998; Page E01
The Washington Capitals extended goaltender Olaf Kolzig's contract yesterday, signing him to a new four-year deal totaling $12 million. The renegotiated agreement will pay Kolzig $2.5 million this season, $3 million the next two seasons and $3.5 million in the fourth season. It nullifies the final year of Kolzig's old contract, which called for him to make $600,000 this season.
"I didn't want this to become a distraction for him, and I wanted to send the right message, rewarding a player who was absolutely outstanding last year and who we regard as an elite goaltender in this league," General Manager George McPhee said. "What we wanted to accomplish was taking a player who was being paid as a number two goaltender but has demonstrated that he's a number one -- and a good number one -- and pay him at that rate this year. For doing that, we get something by getting one of his unrestricted free agent years back at a reasonable number."
Kolzig, 28, had been the second-lowest-paid regular starting goalie in the NHL, ranking ahead of only Carolina's Arturs Irbe ($550,000), a player who was supposed to spend this season as a backup to Trevor Kidd. Kolzig is still not near the top of the list, led by such accomplished players as Buffalo's Dominik Hasek ($8 million) and Toronto's Curtis Joseph ($5.5 million), but he is a lot closer. He now is the highest-paid goaltender on Washington's roster, a distinction formerly held by Rick Tabaracci, who will make $1.2 million this season.
The payday comes two days after Kolzig was pulled from his last start, at Ottawa. He allowed five goals on 15 shots Saturday night and has struggled in his last five starts, allowing 20 goals.
"In the last week it's been a little bit like the stock market, a bit of a crash," Kolzig said, although he noted he has been calmed by the presence of goaltending coach Dave Prior. Prior had been at his Ontario home for most of the last two weeks but rejoined the team over the weekend. Yesterday was his first practice day to work with the goaltenders.
"I was confused there for the last week about what was going on -- how I could go from letting in a little over one goal a game in the first six games and then letting in 23 goals in the next 13 periods," Kolzig said. "But Dave came in and said, 'It's not as bad as you think; you just need a little adjustment here and a little adjustment there.'
"It's a thing of confidence and trust. If the guys trust you back there, they're going to create more chances and if a goalie trusts the forwards, he's going to feel more solid in the net.
"I guess management has shown confidence in me now that they've given me a four-year contract and they plan on me being here a long time, so it starts from there. Hopefully, I can have that confidence pouring out of me like I did last year, and that's the biggest thing that's happened to me in the last 10 days -- that I haven't made the big save like I usually do."
After spending much of his nine-year career in the minors or as a backup in the NHL, Kolzig grew into the starter's role in Washington last season after Bill Ranford was injured, compiling a 33-18-10 record and five shutouts. He was stellar in the postseason with a 1.95 goals-against average and four shutouts, which tied an NHL record.
This season, Kolzig is 3-6-1 with a 2.83 GAA, but McPhee said he did not decide to extend Kolzig's contract on statistics alone. Aside from being a leader in the locker room and a favorite in the community, Kolzig made a point of not complaining about his contract over the summer, ignoring suggestions that he should hold out of training camp for a better deal.
"We have a guy who is incredibly loyal to this organization," McPhee said. "I was told his agent was recommending that maybe they should have pushed for more money, but Olie didn't want any part of it. He wanted to stay here in this organization, and isn't that refreshing?
"These are the types of players that you want to lock up -- an elite player but also someone who is open to everyone in the community, does all kinds of things for charity and is a great person to represent this club."