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The fans speak out! Reaction from the fans upon new of Biller's demotion to the minors (10/9/02):
From Matt Brown:
I truly wish this guy the best.
Of the few interviews I got to do covering the Bruins
for LCS, Billington was my favorite. He was engaging,
challenging, and unpredictable. Ask him a stock question and you got a surprise answer. Ask him an off-beat
question and he went you one better. Ask him a question that got to him, like "What are you going to do after
hockey, coach?" and he replied immediately "No" and then thought, and said "Teach" and went on to talk about his
hockey school and how he enjoyed working with the kids as much as playing.
He was a great guy, by all accounts a great teammate,
and I will never forget how he held the team together
that year in the stretch, after Lacher fell apart and before Ranford arrived. Steve Salhany's profile of Biller on Bruins Legends
does the man justice. If you haven't, give it a read.
He is a class act, and I hope a team that needs that
kind of player picks him up. He would be perfect to
backup up a young goalie who needs to learn the ropes.
From David Fredrick:
Just wanted to say that when I saw on the Caps website
yesterday that Craig was assigned to Portland, I was a little hot under
You see, I am a die hard Caps fan, and the only one that I know of who wears (and will be wearing on Friday to opening night) a special ordered Craig
Billington jersey (I got a lot of weird looks when I dropped it off at the company to get it done). I knew that when Hanlon came down from
Portland to take over as assistant that it was going to put the nail in the coffin for Biller's fate - simply because Hanlon touted how great of a goalie
Charpentier was in the AHL. But, to go and cut one of the most liked players among the team could have an adverse affect in a year of new
coaches, players, and pressures.
Both my roomate (who is a die hard Devils fan) and
I agree that this whole thing with Billers at Portland wont be an issue
for too long. From what
we can tell, it is going to be 1 of 2 situations. Craig is going either be traded to another NHL team, simply because he has stated he can
still get the job done, and I dont think he is going to want to be bounced around AHL teams at George McPhee's pleasure, or he is going to end back
up with the Caps as the backup. Why do I say this? I have seen Charpentier on the ice, and seeing how he has done in the pre-season, he
is not ready to take on the role of a full time backup. If the Caps want to make a Cup run this year, that means that Olie is going to need
more time off than in years past, so we don't loose him at post-season. This puts a lot of pressure on the backup, which we know that Craig can
handle, I just don't know about Charpentier. Oh yeah, and we can't forget, is Charpy going to be able to handle the thought of being a
backup, not worrying that he isn't playing every game.
So the big question is - what happens next.
I would love (and at the same time I wouldn't) to see Billington retire,
have McPhee fire our
Goaltending coach, and have Craig fill the position. Hopefully that is still a few years away. Just to see Craig playing back in the NHL would
keep me happy.
Yeah, it sucks. I don't feel he should be treated
this way. But I don't know what the organization can do. They are obviously
moving toward youth, we are flush
with goalies, and he's 36 years old. *sigh* - I'll go visit wherever he's sent to see him - a couple of us told him we'd already decided we'd do a road trip. I'll miss him horribly - the last time I saw him he came over to me and said, "Deby, if I get picked up today off waivers, I just wanted you to know that I appreciate everything you've done for me." Was that sweet, or what????
Biller is a class act all the way. He tirelessly worked for every team he ever played for. So many stories about the classy way he handled himself - don't know where to start. He has always been the consumate professional, the epitome of the "Team Player". He has always done whatever was asked of him by management, by fellow players. He has been a rock for Olie, and has mentored him in a way. He has helped volatile goalies calm down. His goalie school, which he has run with his brother in London, Ontario for 19 years, has included several guys now playing at the AHL level, and a few that have played in the NHL. He knows hockey, inside and out, and loves the game with all his heart.
I wish him the absolute best wherever he goes. He made this fan feel truly appreciated, and I will always be thankful that I got to talk to him and be able to learn so much from him.
A class act, and in his time, a helluva goalie. Thanks for your contributions to the Caps - we'll miss him
He may have had a bumpy season this year, but that takes nothing away from his skills nor history of success. During the Washington Capitals, he has been very good to us. Very much so a team guy, a class act, and came up with some very big wins for us in the past. Teams like Colorado, Dallas.. etc.
Many will remember him for his swan song and his dancing... My favorite Biller memory was his "Moose antlers" he made with his glove and blocker in the Pittsburgh game. :-D
Another classic was his fight in his first season (I believe) with us. Essentially the entire caps team on the ice got in a fight and Biller locked up with the goalie. I have the tape somewhere.. wish I could remember what team it was against. He threw a right and all you saw was the other goalie's helmet go flying half way across the ice. ;-)
Thanks for the memories Biller. Always a great a guy and I'm sure he'd make a damn fine goaltending or asst. coach.
Here's wishing Biller the best and thanks to him for being a class act. My favorite Biller moment was against the Avs at MCI during pre-game warm-ups in '99-'00. Most of the players had finished their pre-game warm-ups and had gone back to the locker rooms. The last 2 players on the ice were Biller and Jeff Odgers, former teammates of course. Biller was out of the net, about 5 feet from the blueline, apparently trying to get Odger's attention. Odger finally saw Biller staring at him from 80 feet away, paused, then got a puck on his stick and raced down the ice towards Biller, treating the early birds in the stands to a rare, pre-game penalty shot. Odgers raced in, deked hard, then tried to roof it. Biller snagged it with a quick glove. The sparse pre-game crowd cheered soundly. Odgers tapped Biller's pads and nodded, acknowledging the nice save as the two skated to their locker rooms. Pretty classy display of sportsmanship. Olie was in net that night. The Caps won 2-1, but Biller had the save of the game.
Back to A Tribute to Craig Billington