When Olie Kolzig joined Adam Oates and Calle Johansson on the Capitals’ coaching staff it was a very clear message to fans and players alike that the organization is ready to embrace its history.
On Thursday night at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, that history was embraced by a standing-room-only crowd for the team’s annual Alumni Game, won by the Red Team, 6-5, when CSN color analyst Craig Laughlin scored the only goal in a three-round shootout.
Laughlin, who underwent hip replacement surgery a year ago, was awarded the No. 1 star for his heroics. Brendan Witt and John Druce, each of whom had two goals and an assist in the contest, were the other two stars.
“I personally like it,” Oates said. “I think it’s great guys want to come back. It’s tradition, it’s part of everything.”
Oates said the ties between alumni and management can fray when teams experience turnover in the front office, but with George McPhee now in his 17th year as general manager, the Caps are trying to establish stability and familiarity with their coaching staff.
“There’s a lot of respect between them,” McPhee said. “They’ve known each other a long time so they understand each other really well. I think it’s a great thing to have on a coaching staff, that kind of familiarity. They have a great perspective of the whole game.”
Before the alumni game, former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley strapped on a helmet, grabbed a stick and took part in pre-game warmups. Minutes later, after challenging former Caps tough guy Kevin ‘Killer” Kaminski to check him into the boards, Cooley did a face plant after attempting a shot and left the ice with a bloody lip.
“I told Kaminski to hit me, then I told him, ‘Hit me harder,” Cooley said. “But this [bloody lip] wasn’t from him. It was from me falling on the ice.”