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Olie the Goalie Returns to Washington

Life is going to get interesting at the Verizon Center tonight when the Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the game will mark the first time that the Caps’ former franchise goalie, Olie Kolzig, has played against the only team he knew for the better part of 16 NHL seasons. ↵
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↵It might be hard for a hockey outsider to understand just how much Kolzig is loved by Caps fans. The nickname, "Olie the Goalie,” was only the start of the relationship. But while success eluded Kolzig early in his career with the Caps, he still earned plenty of respect from the fan base thanks in part to his volcanic temper and will to compete.
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↵That temper was on full display during the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Caps were on the losing end of yet another encounter with the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Washington down 4-1, Kolzig won the hearts of Caps fans forever when he took off out of the crease and targeted Penguins tough guy Francois Leroux: ↵
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↵During the 1998-99 NHL season, Kolzig locked horns with Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe -- this after they had served as the best man at each other's weddings:  ↵

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↵While Kolzig is known for his temper, the guy has a sense of humor too, one that was on display in this local advertisement from the mid-1990s: ↵

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↵But Kolzig's legacy extends off the ice as well. One of Kolzig's children, his son Carson, is afflicted with autism. That led Kolzig to help found Athletes Against Autism along with Dafoe and fellow NHLer Scott Mellanby. It's a non-profit group that raises money for research, treatment and education. Here's a piece that originally ran on WJLA-TV in Washington this spring that provides a better idea of just how many people have been touched by that work: ↵

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↵Tonight, the ovation will be long, loud and well deserved. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.