DALLAS (MCT) — Add Hall of Famer to Eddie Olczyk’s already impressive list of hockey accomplishments.
The former Blackhawks player and current TV analyst was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during ceremonies Monday night in Dallas.
“I’ve worn a lot of different hats,” Olczyk said. “I was a fan, a player, a coach, a broadcaster and a dad. On any given day or night I can have any of those hats on. I love the game and hockey has been mine and my family’s life, for sure.”
Olczyk, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Niles and then Palos Heights, was surrounded by family, friends and members of the Hawks organization in Dallas to celebrate a career that included nine appearances with the U.S. national team, 16 NHL seasons as a player and a broadcasting career that is flourishing as an analyst in Chicago and nationally on NBC.
“It really is about my family and my friends and my teammates and all of the people who helped me along the way,” said Olczyk, who also was coach of the Penguins for a season and a half. “I’m extremely honored.”
It was the presence of his family, including parents Diana and Ed, brothers Ricky and Randy, wife Diana and his four children — Eddie, Tommy, Nicholas and Alexandra — that symbolized Olczyk’s feelings upon reaching the pinnacle of American hockey.
“Everything I have is because of hockey,” Olczyk, 46, said. “We have a plaque in our kitchen that says, ‘We interrupt this family for hockey.’ For 365 days a year, that’s what it is. To have my family here ... (and) to be a part of this is something that is very humbling.”
The event was an emotional moment for a man who wears his emotions on his sleeve. Before his speech, Olczyk said he expected some tears to flow.
“I cried when I signed my first contract with the Chicago Blackhawks back in 1984,” Olczyk said. “I cried when my wife was walking down the aisle in August of 1988, I cried when I played my last game in the National Hockey League (and) I cried when all my kids were born. And I know for sure I’ll be crying when I’m six feet under. If anybody knows me, that’s my personality.
“It’s all in appreciation and respect for everybody who has helped me.”
Olczyk had 342 goals and 452 assists in 1,031 career regular-season games and won the Stanley Cup while with the Rangers in 1994. In addition to the Hawks and Rangers, he spent time with the Maple Leafs, Jets, Kings and Penguins.
Along with Olczyk, former Stars player Mike Modano and longtime Devils executive Lou Lamoriello were inducted. Modano and Olczyk became close friends while playing together on national teams in the early ‘90s.
“(Olczyk’s) a class guy,” Modano said. “He’s one guy who I really kind of clung to in ‘90 and ‘91 when we were part of the Canada Cup. (I liked) his approach to the game, his professionalism. He had a great sense of humor, he enjoyed the game (and) he was a lot of fun to be around.
“He’s been remarkable for the game on TV. He’s our voice and face of U.S. hockey.”