Every moment of Alex Ovechkin’s Stanley Cup celebration, on and off the ice, has been documented to this point and closely followed by fans and critics alike. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no one could question the genuine joy Ovechkin has felt in the wake of winning the Cup.
And why not? It took him 13 NHL seasons to get to this point.
But for someone like Olie Kolzig, the wait has been even longer.
Kolzig, one of the all-time greats of the franchise, took over as the team’s starting goalie in the 1997-98 season and did not yield the crease until late in the Ovechkin era.
While the starting goalie of the Capitals, Kolzig reached the Stanley Cup Final only once in 1998, but the team was swept by the Detroit Red Wings. After his career was over, Kolzig joined the organization and now serves as a professional development coach.
So while Ovechkin had to wait 13 seasons for his Cup, Kolzig has had to wait many, many more seasons both on and off the ice.
When the team finally did win it, it was a surreal moment.
“It still hasn't really sunk in,” Kolzig told reporters at the Capitals development camp. “We as a staff, we were up in the upper top section of the rink and A when that clock broke down and we were just sitting there losing our marbles and then B they actually made a nice little play off the faceoff, when that buzzer went all of us just embraced each other. We just couldn't believe it.
“And then when we actually finally got down to the ice and on to the ice and Ovi handed me that thing, it still hasn't sunk in. It felt like a fairy tale.”
The running joke after the Capitals won the Cup was if anyone would be able to pry it out of Ovechkin’s hands this summer long enough to enjoy it. In reality, Ovechkin has been very open about allowing others to touch the Cup and enjoy the championship, whether it be people associated with the team or fans.
And that attitude, evident even on the ice in the middle of the celebration, resonated with Kolzig who had to wait so long.
“To me, that's when it clicked in that Ovi really got it,” he said. “He understood. Obviously we were teammates for a few years and he knows about the organization's history and I've been here for a long time. He gets it that it was important to all of us, not just obviously him and his legacy and the rest of the organization, but the former players.
“Somebody gave me the picture the other day and that's one that's going to be put up and not moved for a long, long time if ever.”
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