Veteran goalie Billington is waived
The Washington Post
DENVER, Dec. 16 -- The Washington Capitals resolved a lingering goaltending
dilemma tonight by activating starter Olaf Kolzig from the injured reserved
list, putting veteran backup Craig Billington on waivers and declaring rookie
Sebastien Charpentier the regular backup goalie.
Kolzig had missed five games with a pulled thigh muscle, but is healthy again
and was scheduled to face the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Charpentier, 25,
filled in admirably during Kolzig's absence, cementing today's chain of events.
Billington, 36, spent the past four years in Washington and was perhaps the
most popular and well-respected player in the dressing room, but will be
bought out of his contract if he clears waivers as expected, General Manager
George McPhee said.
"This is always difficult to do," McPhee said. "And [Billington] has created
a really important role within the team in addition to what he does stopping
pucks. But this is honestly the nature of the sport when someone else comes
along who is younger and cheaper and can do the job."
Billington was a key mediator between coaches and players for much of his
time in Washington. His outgoing personality, quick wit and knowledge of
the game endeared him to teammates and people throughout the organization.
On a club that has battled chemistry issues for several seasons, Billington
helped hold things together.
"People outside the dressing room or people who aren't really close to us
look at Biller and think he's just the backup goalie, but he's meant a lot
to this team," Kolzig said. "He's a very smart hockey person, he's very serious
about the game. He's the consummate professional -- the first guy on the
ice, last guy to leave, always makes sure the guys have a goalie to shoot
on. . . .
"Biller has been my favorite [goaltending] partner. We're good friends. He
keeps everything loose with some of his antics. You ask anybody who has played
with him, and they'll tell you the same thing: This is a guy you want on
Billington has played 15 years in the NHL, was once an all-star, and had
his best years backing up legendary goalie Patrick Roy in Colorado before
coming to Washington in 1999. Colorado may also prove to be where Billington's
playing career ends.
"He always seemed to have a grasp on the heartbeat on the team," center Jeff
Halpern said, "and he's always been a guy who has been vocal and been a leader
in the locker room."
Back to A Tribute to Craig Billington