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Billington cool with backup job

by Dave Fay

Craig Billington knows what it's like to be a No.
1 goalie. He also knows what it's liketo be a backup.

And more than anything else, he knows what his role is and accepts it.

The Washington Capitals' backup, who started his NHL career with the
New Jersey Devils in 1985 and has had stops in Ottawa, Boston and Col-
orado, thinks of himself as something of a reliever. And he stays positive.

"I think often what happens, especially with a young goalie, is you
focus on how long it's been since you last played rather than preparing to be
ready when they need you," Billington said.

"The looking forward approach, I believe, is a lot more positive than
saying, 'Oh, geez, it's been a long time since I played.' I think you can
get head worms that way. What you should recognize is the longer you go
without playing, the closer you actually come to getting in a game."

Besides, where else can you find casual work and make $850,000 a
year?

The Capitals believe Kolzig, 29, will fill the starter's position for years
to come.

They needed a goalie comfortable with the backup position and who
would complement Kolzig.

"Last summer, when we were looking for a backup, that was the
key - finding somebody who didn't have a problem with the job," said
assistant coach Tim Hunter. "We heard he was the best at that as far as
his attitude was concerned and that's why he got the job."

Hunter works with Billington before practice. Then Tim Army,
another assistant, works with the goalie after practice, putting him
through drills to prepare him for the next opponent, whether he is sched-
uled to play or not.

In eight games this season the 33 year-old Billington had a 3-3-1
record, 2.91 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

-Hockey News, February 25, 2000, Vol 53, No. 24, page 27

 

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