Adam Oates, Olie Kolzig and Craig Berube were teammates together for parts of three seasons in Washington, from 1997-99 and again in 2000-01.
They golfed together, ate together and laughed together.
Today at Verizon Center, they will try to outwit each other behind opposing benches when the Berube makes his first visit to Washington as head coach of the Flyers.
We recently caught up with the three coaches to hear what they had to say about each other.
Olie Kolzig on Craig "Chief" Berube: “Chief, myself, Oatesey, Rick Tocchet, Phil Housely, Mark Tinordi, Joe Juneua -- there was a group of us. All we did in our off-time was hang out and talk hockey and you could tell Chief was a student of the game. He was always inquisitive and always involved in the conversation.
“Honestly, I didn’t know if Chief would turn out to be a coach. I didn’t foresee that. When I played with Adam I could see Adam being a coach. I could definitely see Dale [Hunter] being a coach when I played with him. But I didn’t think it was a route Chief was going to take, but he’s been very successful at it.”
Adam Oates on Berube: “I can’t say I saw it, either. But as soon as I heard he was coaching, I always regarded him as a very quick-witted, smart guy and an enjoyable guy to be around.
“I think anybody can coach if you’re willing to learn every facet of the game. I think you get a piece of everybody that coaches you over the years. You come up with your own style, of course, but you take everything pro and con.”
Berube on Kolzig: “It was easy to get under his skin, boy. Me and Dale would go down in practice and rip shots at his head. Next thing you know he’d be chasing us around the rink. He’d get ticked off at us all the time.
“I remember one time we were playing golf and he hit a bad shot. He calmly goes and takes his clubs out of his bag, he puts them on his shoulder, he walks over toward a bush, he lays his clubs down, grabs his driver and starts beating on the clubs. He put them back on his shoulder, loads them back up and says, ‘OK, let’s go.’”
Kolzig on Berube: “He definitely has a presence about him. When he walks in a room he instantly demands respect from guys. I’m glad he took that [coaching] route and I’m glad he’s where he’s at right now. It’s fantastic to see.
“With Chief, you can hear the same story 30 times and it’s just as funny as the first time he told it. He’s got some great one-liners and he’s one of my favorite all-time teammates, especially for what he did on the ice, the way he protected guys. He was a team-first kind of guy and those guys are so loved by their teammates because of what they do. I mean, think about it. He’s got over 3,000 penalty minutes [3,149] and over a thousand games [1,054]. A thousand games of doing what he did is unimaginable. I could never see myself doing it for five games, let alone a thousand games. It speaks volumes.”
Berube on Oates: “I liked being around him, just a real smart hockey guy. He used to always take my sticks and cut them real short and say, ‘You’ll be a lot better with this.’ And I’d say, ‘What do you want me to do with this short little blade?’ I’m never gonna score anyways. But he was a real good player, I’ll tell you that.
“I really didn’t think he’d get into coaching. That’s a surprising one for me. I just never thought of him that way. Dale, for sure. But Oatesy, I thought when he left the rink he left the game there. I guess that wasn’t the case because he obviously had a passion for it at some point.”
Berube on being a head coach: “In the end, you have to coach the team the way you see fit and you have to make sure your players are playing the way you want to play. That’s it. I always say, not everybody can play the same with the puck because they all have different skill levels. But everybody can play well without the puck. To me, everybody can work hard and compete without the puck.”
Berube on returning to D.C.: “I played a lot of years there, it’s a great place, a great organization and I enjoyed it very much. Philly-Wash are always good games and I look forward to it. There’s a history there with everybody.”