Raise #37 to the Rafters Now!

Posted June 16, 2011

Olaf KolzigFormer Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig is returning to the Caps as associate goaltending coach, music to the ears of fans who are still disappointed how the former Vezina Trophy winner left the team several years ago.

With the return, we say that the Capitals should waste no time honoring him by raising #37 to the rafters of the Verizon Center. “Godzilla” won more games than any other Washington goaltender, posted a team-record 33 shutouts, won the Vezina Trophy in 2000, helped the Caps reach the ’98 Stanley Cup finals, and was very active in the community with his charity work. Sure, it was a messy divorce when the Caps traded for Cristobal Huet for a playoff run, but that’s no reason to hold off on putting a new banner on the phone booth’s ceiling. Every moment the Capitals wait to retire his number is a dishonor to the best goaltender in their history. After Kolzig retired, The Post posted a poll on whether they should retire his number and the answer is an overwhelming YES. Capitals, no need to wait, just do it!

Here’s the company he’ll be joining. Yvon Labre (#7), a hard-nosed defenseman who played during the early days of the Capitals. The team was AWFUL then. Rod Langway (#5), a two-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman. Dale Hunter (#32) who provided leadership but on the league stat sheet is mostly known as the guy who is second all-time for penalty minutes. And most recently, Mike Gartner (#11), nearly 20 years after he even played for the team. (If these very same players were on other teams, I’d say Gartner and Langway would be the only of the four to hang in the rafters. Incidentally, both Gartner and Langway are in the Hall of Fame, but not Hunter or Labre. Two other Caps are in the Hall of Fame – Larry Murphy and Scott Stevens, but it’s certain that the Caps won’t be retiring those numbers.) Aside from Kolzig, the Capitals should also honor #12 Peter Bondra. But back to Kolzig:

I’d have to say this is my favorite Kolzig moment, when he ‘fought’ his good friend and former teammate, Byron Dafoe:

Here are some other Kolzig highlights: