A backup on the ice, Kolzig is a star on-line Caps goalie is popular with Web browsers


IceRebelTD was five rows up from the Washington Capitals' entrance to the USAir Arena ice at a recent game but was afraid to go up to the rail to get a good look at her favorite player, backup goalie Olie Kolzig.

"I would have gawked, leaned too far and fallen over," wrote IceRebelTD. "At age 29, it would have been a day none of us, the team included, would have forgotten! I can just hear it, 'Did you see that lady fall on Olie?' "

IceRebelTD is one of a loyal group of Kolzig fans who post regularly on the Capitals site on America Online in a file called "Olie Kolzig, The Man, The Myth."

She is also one of thousands of Capitals fans who visit the site, which includes updated statistics, action photos of players that can be downloaded into home computers and even a weekly column by general manager David Poile, who also fields fans' questions via computer.

"In the office, everyone is getting into the Internet," said Poile. "Last year, everyone was talking about it, and we decided to do it. Then they asked me to go on. We all felt it could be fun and a good way to communicate with our fans, and it has been all of that."

The Capitals were the first NHL team to go on-line and are the only club in major pro team sports with its own site on a commercial service.

The San Jose Sharks have a site on the World Wide Web, which is not commercial, and the Los Angeles Kings are going on the Web soon.

The NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have sites on the World Wide Web. Each team in the NBA and the NFL has its own home page on its league's site. Many major-league baseball teams already have their own home pages on the Web, and they will connect to MLB's main site.

The Capitals have had 87,077 visits to their site from November ** through March 8.

One of the most popular items on the site is the Olie folder on

the fans' bulletin board, which was created by Joanna Elpers, a 27-year-old landscape designer from northern Virginia. "I think the Caps' board is a great thing," said Elpers. "I know we don't often have the sellouts other teams have, but there are a lot of rTC underground hockey fans in the area and it's fun to talk on the board like this."

The folder is accessed by a variety of fans, among them: Avi Schecter, a 17-year-old private school student in New Jersey; a grant writer named HockeyTalk in San Jose, Calif.; Brian Sinks, who works as network support at Naval Air System Command in Crystal City, Va.; and postal contractor Terri D'Arrigo of Arlington, Va. Kolzig owns a personal computer and signs on regularly to America Online.

"But I try to stay away from hockey on the computer," he said. "I use my computer to talk to guys on the team, guys back home, the trainer and Zamboni driver at the Portland [Maine] Arena [where Kolzig played in the minors], friends around the country."

And Kolzig takes his on-line popularity in good humor.

"I think it's hilarious for a guy who has played in [12] games to have so many people talking about him on their computers," he said when told he has his own folder.

Told those fans talk about everything from his goaltending abilities to his nicknames to the way he wiggles when he is skating backward toward his net after shutting down an opposing attack, he laughed.

"It better be a woman looking at my wiggle," he said. "Ah, it's great, though. They're having a lot of fun, but I'm not going to venture into it."

And then he looked over a shoulder and read a few of the printouts and smiled a little more before getting serious.

"It's funny how I keep getting attention for things that aren't really about hockey," he said, a little ruefully. "I have a hot dog card [a trading card showing him eating a hot dog with his name written on it in mustard], I have a couple nicknames [Gonzilla, Olie the Goalie] and I have my own folder on America Online. I guess I'm doing my job as a backup, keeping the humor in the locker room."

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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