It is a bittersweet time for the Washington Capitals.
Just a few weeks after an unexpected and improbable playoff run ushered in the Alexander Ovechkin era of Capitals' hockey, the Olaf Kolzig era has come to an end.
Kolzig will not be returning to the team that drafted him in 1989. Instead, Kolzig's Capitals career seems to have ended with him watching the team lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Game 7 of their first round playoff series from the bench.
"For me, it was disappointing the way it ended," Kolzig told the Washington Post. "It's unfortunate, because they have a good team here now. It's a fantastic team, fantastic group of guys. Not to be a part of that is going to be tough, especially after 17 years and three years of what we went through post-lockout."
"It just doesn't feel right. But at the same time, as an athlete, you have to know when to move on."
Kolzig took the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998 and is the city of Washington's longest-tenured professional athlete.
"I realized that Game 7 was my last game as a Cap. That night was a very emotional time for me. I was one of the last guys to leave. It sucked that I wasn't playing, but I wanted us to go as far as we could. In the back of my mind, I thought that it's ironic, I'm not playing, but this could be our time to win a Cup. And in a weird way, this is how I get my ring, especially the way we were coming back. So I was even more disappointed when we lost Game 7, knowing that was going to be my last game."
Following the game, Kolzig removed his nameplate from his locker and skipped the team meeting the next morning.
"In my mind, there wasn't anything hateful," Kolzig said of removing his nameplate. "I wasn't there for the meeting because I didn't want to have to face the media. I wanted to avoid [reporters] as long as I could. It got blown out of proportion."
While his time in Washington is likely over, Kolzig is not ready to retire from professional hockey. According to the report, Kolzig has already begun training for next season. He will be an unrestricted free agent this season and will be looking to join a contender.
"I haven't completely made up my mind," Kolzig said. "For me, it's all about my family. The situation has to be good for my family. I still feel that I can be a dominant goalie in this league. If the offer is not out there . . . I'll just sit by the pool with a six-pack."