5 Questions with... Blackhawks TV analyst Eddie Olczyk

558952.jpg

5 Questions with... Blackhawks TV analyst Eddie Olczyk

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guesta Chicago hockey legend who started and ended his brilliant 16-year NHL career for his beloved Blackhawkshes a Stanley Cup champion, a U.S. Olympian, but without question, this guy is THE best television color analyst in the game todayyou can catch him all season long on Comcast SportsNet with his on-air partner Pat Foley, along with regular appearances throughout the season on Versus and the NHL on NBClets drop the puck already, here are 5 Questions withEDDIE OLCZYK!

BIO: Eddie Olczyk is currently in his fifth season as the television analyst for Blackhawks hockey on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Olczyk, a 16-year NHL veteran, scored 342 goals and recorded 794 points in 1,031 games with Chicago, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Winnipeg, the New York Rangers and Los Angeles, winning a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994. The third overall choice in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, he was also a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and represented the U.S. in numerous international competitions.

Eddie began his NHL career as an 18-year old with his hometown Chicago Blackhawks in 1984-85. He played three seasons recording 180 points (65 goals, 115 assists) in 228 games. He then spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1987-91), scoring a career-high 42 goals during the 1987-88 season and recording a career-high 90 points during the 1988-89 season.

Olczyk was traded to Winnipeg and played two-and-a-half seasons with the Jets from 1990-1992, recording 142 points (66 goals, 76 points) in 150 games. He played for the Rangers (1992-95) before heading back to Winnipeg, scoring 27 goals with the Jets in their last season in Winnipeg (1995-96). He began the 1996-97 season with Los Angeles before being traded to the Penguins late in the season. Olczyk played parts of two seasons with Pittsburgh before returning to Chicago and finishing his NHL career with the Blackhawks. He retired from the league in 2000.

Following his playing career, Olczyk embarked on a career as a broadcaster, working on Pittsburgh Penguins television broadcasts for Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh (2000-03) and calling games for ESPN, ESPN2 and NHL Radio.

Olczyk was named head coach of the Penguins on June 11, 2003, and he posted a 31-68-14 record while behind the Penguins bench (2003-05).

He returned to broadcasting during the 2005-06 NHL season, serving as an analyst and studio host for Versus and NBC, where he also resides as the networks chief game analyst.

Eddie O., as he is affectionately known, and his wife Diana have four children: sons Eddie, Tommy and Nicholas and daughter Alexandra.

1) CSNChicago.com: Eddie, thanks for taking time to join us for this edition of 5 Questions with With the NHL season finally upon us, theres plenty of positive buzzhigh expectations throughout the hockey world for this seasons Blackhawks team. In your opinion, what would you say would be your top 3 team priorities from an offensiveand defensivestandpoint that must happen in order to propel this well-stocked Blackhawks squad to the top of the Western Conference standings?

Olczyk: I think first off is that they need to get off to a really good start. The first 20 games are crucial for any team, but I think for a team that got off to a tough start last year in the first 20 games, is really the first and foremost as far as a collective standpoint.

I think second is the health of this team right now is probably the biggest question mark because you have some guys banged up. You've got Viktor Stalberg on the mend and Ben Smith banged up. So to me, to really get a true assessment of this club, is that you've got to have everybody healthy in order to have a good first 20 games and have a good start.

Lastly, finding that chemistry as quick as you can, whether it's on the forward lines, on the back end or who even's going to be the backup goalie. Chemistry is something that can come in a lot of different ways, but I think it's something that will help the team down the stretch and into the playoffs.

2) CSNChicago.com: This next question will be tough to answer. Which was a more emotional moment for you personally: when you were drafted first overall by your hometown Blackhawks in the 1984 NHL entry draft (third overall in the entire NHL) or when the Blackhawks won it all two years ago?

Olczyk: (Laughs) Well, considering both of those were something I'd dreamed about as a kid growing up in the city of Chicago: what it would be like to play for the Blackhawks and then skating the Stanley Cup around the old Chicago Stadium. Considering I had nothing to do with what happened two years ago, I was more of a fan than anything else and a proud alum of the Blackhawks organization, it was close. But being drafted by my hometown team and being an American and from the greatest city in the world, there's nothing really that would ever top that moment as a member of the Blackhawks. I got a chance to play my first game as a Blackhawk, my thousandth game as a Blackhawk and my last game as a Blackhawk, with a lot of games in between. So, I would have to say, longwinded, being drafted by my favorite team was a lifelong dream.

3) CSNChicago.com: Through your expert knowledge of the game and natural ability in front of the camera, you have established yourself as the premier color analyst in all of hockey. Tell us how you got your start in broadcasting.

Olczyk: Considering a lot of my friends tell me I have a face for radio, I have no idea what that means, but on the inside, I really do. Actually, I got my start in television during the 1994-95 season. There was a work stoppage and I was playing for the New York Rangers at the time and we didn't play the first four months of the regular season. Everybody who knows me, knows I have a passion for horse racing. I got a chance to work at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey. I actually did in-house and race analysis at the Meadowlands Racetrack. So that was kind of my introduction to working in front of the camera, having an IFB, which is an earpiece that you talk to people in the truck to communicate. That's how I pretty much got my start on television, being a racing analyst at the Meadowlands Racetrack in the fall of 1994.

4) CSNChicago.com: Two-parter here: what was your most memorable game as a player and who would you say is the toughest opponent youve ever faced on the ice?

Olczyk: The toughest opponent I ever played against without a doubt was Scott Stevens, who was a longtime NHLer and one of the meanest, toughest defensemen ever to play in the National Hockey League. I just think that he was one of those guys, I mean there are a lot of players you knew were on the ice, but when you talk about tough, he had everything that you would want in a tough, hard-nosed defenseman. There was always a battle each and every night, but just the physical strength that he had was really second to none.

I was lucky enough to win a Stanley Cup with that Rangers in 1994, scoring my first goal in my very first game as a Blackhawk against the Detroit Red Wings probably would be right at the top. However, coming in a close second would be the year we won the Cup with the Rangers in 1994. I was voted the Players' Player Award, which was voted on by my teammates. To win that award, on a team that eventually won the Stanley Cup, is something I will always take great pride in.

5) CSNChicago.com: Now that youre back calling Blackhawks games, were curious what you did for fun during this off-season (excluding going to the race track!)

Olczyk: (Laughs) Well that's not fair considering you won't allow me to answer chasing the ponies around the racetrack! It's a time for me to stay at home and be with my family. Everybody knows my schedule is pretty crazy during the regular season. It's a privilege and honor to sit in the chair that I do for 125 games a year, but I just like staying at home. Both my boys come home from college, so its a full house at the Olczyk household over the course of the summer for about four months. I took a trip to Las Vegas, which my wife and I annually do, so we enjoy doing that. We stay at the beautiful Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. I would highly recommend that to any people who might be going west for a vacation in the near future.

Olczyk LINKS:

Chicago Blackhawks official site

Nominate your favorite youth hockey team via CSNChicago.coms Eddie Os All-Stars presented by Galaxie Home Remodeling

(Note: Meghan Bower contributed to this edition of 5 Questions with)

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews gave a succinct "no" when asked if he'd consider playing in the World Championships next month in Europe. For the Blackhawks captain, his 2016-17 season wasn't where it needed to be.

So instead of helping Team Canada across the pond, he'll prepare to help the Blackhawks more next season.

Toews will use this offseason in a variety of ways, including taking some time completely off to heal and rest. And while there's a lot of time between now and the Blackhawks' training camp, Toews said competing in the World Championships would take up a good amount of time he'd rather use to be ready for the fall.

"At this point of my career, going through the last couple of years the way things have played out, there are some little changes here and there with how I approach my preparation, especially the last summer being a long offseason and coming in feeling I was as prepared as I could be and still not getting to the level of play I wanted to this season," Toews said on Saturday. "There are some things I have to re-evaluate and think about this offseason. There's no satisfaction there but definitely take a different approach with how I prepare for next season. I didn't get to the level I needed to be to help our team survive a little bit longer in this last series, so I have to be responsible for that as well. Just look back, assess and see what you can do differently."

Toews had a slow start to the season and then missed three weeks with a reported back injury. Much like the rest of the Blackhawks he started heating up in February and finished the regular season with 21 goals. But it was another quiet postseason for him, as Toews had just one goal in the four games against the Nashville Predators, and that was a late-regulation power-play goal in Game 4.

So was Toews dealing with a physical issue? Asked how healthy he was, Toews said, "well, that's kind of one of the things I'm hitting on," but didn't get more specific than that. Coach Joel Quenneville said some of the Blackhawks' key players, "have some issues they're taking care of, but I don't think it's going to be to that extent to where it's long term care." Quenneville also said any health issues had nothing to do with what happened in this series. Toews certainly wasn't using it as an excuse, either. As for the future, Toews said he'll reconfigure his workout, training regimen, whatever necessary to be better next season.

"Just the way the speed of the game has changed the last few years. I've always been the type of player who likes to play heavy and protect the puck in the corners. It seems the strength has been a factor but also the speed in my game that I used to have in my younger years," Toews said. "I have to get back to playing more puck possession, more speed on the rush. That right there is one little thing. But I think the skill part is another thing I'll have to focus on and trying to get back to playing the way I can."

Two days later, Blackhawks still stunned, 'embarrassed' by quick exit

Two days later, Blackhawks still stunned, 'embarrassed' by quick exit

The Blackhawks convened on Saturday for their annual locker clean-out/player evaluation day. It was a day that came a lot quicker than they expected, and two days after being swept out of the postseason, the bitter feelings hadn’t diminished a bit.

“Yeah, it’s embarrassing,” Duncan Keith said. “When you go into the playoffs you expect a long run and all of a sudden you’re out four straight. There’s no other way to describe it. Shocked, embarrassing, to me those are the words.”

There really wasn’t much to say on Saturday, as the Blackhawks still tried to figure out what went wrong in their lopsided series loss to the Nashville Predators. It wasn’t about losing that Stanley Cup-winning feeling, they said. But there was no doubt the Predators were the hungrier team; that, nobody among the Blackhawks denied.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Patrick Kane said of the Predators wanting it more. “If you watch that series or re-watch games, they seem like the faster team, the hungrier team. Maybe we were in a situation where we were maybe looking past a team like Nashville and thinking that we were going to go on, and it was going to be an easy series and we were just getting ourselves ready for what was to come down the road. It’s easy to say all of this stuff now, but I guess if you look back and watch the games, you could say they wanted it a bit more.”

Marian Hossa agreed.

“You know, there’s something right about it,” he said of Kane’s assessment. “In the regular season we had games where we beat them and maybe he’s right. But you have to give them so much credit because they gave us a hard time to try and make something happen. I don’t remember a series ending so early like this in my career and so few goals. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

It’s tough because any resemblance between the Blackhawks who garnered 109 regular-season points and the Blackhawks in that first-round series was purely coincidental. It was night and day.

“I think everyone thought they were at their best and it was the exact opposite. I think we’re missing what we had all year and it showed. It showed and against a team that maybe payed or had one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen. They were all over the ice and it was a tough series to play in, especially when you expect so much,” Corey Crawford said. “We just weren’t the same team. I think anyone who was watching could pretty much see that.”

There was plenty of blame to go around and all among the Blackhawks, be it the brass or the coaches or the players, took their share of it. General manager Stan Bowman said it fell on him to field the best team. Coach Joel Quenneville said it was up to him to have the Blackhawks ready. Individual players pointed to what they didn’t do. But what’s done is done for this season. The Blackhawks failed, and while they say and know they need to move on, this will stay with them for a while.

“It’s not the fact that we lost. It’s how we lost I think when you look at it. I’m embarrassed — the way we played,” Brent Seabrook said. “It’s going to be a tough summer and that’s about it.”