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)

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Those tremors you felt Wednesday was the hockey world shaking things up.

They were the most exciting 30 minutes of offseason we’ve seen in some time, with the Montreal Canadiens sending P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber and Edmonton trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Oh, and coveted potential unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, sending teams like Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo to their Plan Bs.

For the Blackhawks, they weren’t players for any of the top-tier guys. But with the free-agent “frenzy” about to begin on Friday, the Blackhawks, who have a little shopping to do, can’t get caught in the ripple effect.

Most of the top UFAs are already off the board, from Stamkos to Keith Yandle to Alex Goligoski. Prices could go up on those remaining, and that could include some guys the Blackhawks were targeting.

As general manager Stan Bowman said last Saturday following the NHL Draft, the Blackhawks no longer have a salary-cap problem. Generalfanager.com shows the Blackhawks have a little more than $5 million in cap space. That’s after the Blackhawks made two cap friendly re-signings with forward Brandon Mashinter and defenseman Michal Rozsival. According to Pierre LeBrun, Mashinter and Rozsival will earn $575,00 and $600,000, respectively, this season.

So the Blackhawks enter the weekend with some spending cash, and they may be spending some of it immediately on a familiar guy. Andy Strickland reported on Thursday that Brian Campbell, who was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, could return on a one-year deal. Nothing would be official until Friday, when free agency begins.

If Campbell does return it probably won’t be for much cash. But Campbell knows the Blackhawks are still built to win and he won’t be hurting for money. It could be another sensible move like Brad Richards from the summer of 2014. Richards, just bought out by the New York Rangers after the team’s trip to the Stanley Cup final, just wanted to get back to the final. He signed a one-year deal worth $2 million here. While Richards was up and down in the regular season he was great in the playoffs, capping the Blackhawks’ Cup run with that beautiful pass to Patrick Kane in Game 6. The Blackhawks aren’t what they were in 2014 but they’re not in bad shape, either. A good, affordable tweak or two could have them thinking about another lengthy postseason run.

Keep something else in mind: just about every July the Blackhawks pick up someone we didn’t anticipate. Richards was a good example of that, too.

The Blackhawks have a little cash to spend but they also have future considerations; please see Artemi Panarin, who the Blackhawks can start negotiating with on Friday. It’s not just about what they spend this season, it’s about what they save for that potential deal that would start next season.

The options are out there to improve this team but the Blackhawks have to be prudent. They can’t afford not to be.

Report: Brian Campbell likely to rejoin Blackhawks

Report: Brian Campbell likely to rejoin Blackhawks

Free agency officially begins Friday at 11 a.m. CT, but all signs point to Brian Campbell rejoining the Blackhawks for the 2016-17 season.

It's been widely rumored that the 37-year-old defenseman has been open to a return to Chicago, where he helped bring a Stanley Cup to in 2010 and still resides in the offseason. 

The latest report comes from Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest, saying Campbell is likely to sign a one-year deal with the Blackhawks. 

This comes less than a day after Campbell told the Chicago Tribune that he's willing to take a hometown discount if it meant playing for the Blackhawks, a team that ranks No. 1 on his list.

If reports turn out to be true, Campbell immediately gives the Blackhawks a top-four defenseman and alleviates some of the pressure off the bottom pairing, such as Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was asked to take on a larger role last season.

Blackhawks re-sign Brandon Mashinter, Michal Rozsival to one-year deals

Blackhawks re-sign Brandon Mashinter, Michal Rozsival to one-year deals

The Blackhawks have agreed to bring back forward Brandon Mashinter and defenseman Michal Rozsival on one-year deals, the team announced Thursday.

It's a $575,000 cap hit for Mashinter and $600,000 for Rozsival, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun. 

Mashinter, 27, scored four goals and one assist in 41 regular-season games during his first year with the Blackhawks last season. Rozsival, 37, registered one goal and 12 assists in 51 games last year.

The moves give the Blackhawks cheap depth up front and on the back end along with flexibility heading into free agency, which officially opens at 11 a.m. CT on Friday.

With the signings, the Blackhawks now had 19 players (10 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders) under contract for the 2016-17 season. They have $5.215 million in cap space to fill out the rest of the roster, per generalfanager.com.