Eddie Olczyk talked of his love of covering the Blackhawks. The same went for the Kentucky Derby, which he’ll be covering again next month.
“I’m not embarrassed to say all I know is hockey and horses, pucks and ponies, whatever you want to call it,” he said.
Olczyk’s talent at calling hockey and horses earned him the 2016 Ring Lardner Award for Broadcasting, and Olczyk was honored for that at a ceremony on Monday night. Former Sun-Times sports columnist Ron Rapoport (Print) and the late Doug Buffone (Posthumous) were also honored.
For Olczyk, being recognized for his work behind the microphone is another great moment in an illustrious post-playing career.
Pat Foley, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for broadcasting in 2014, said he figures Olczyk will be there some day, too. Foley, who called Blackhawks games when Olczyk played here, said the two hit it off immediately when they became broadcast partners.
“People ask about our chemistry. It’s been instantaneous because we go back a long way,” Foley said. “In terms of being honored, when he calls a hockey game, he acts like a coach. He watches the game like a coach. He takes every opportunity he can during a game to point out a teaching moment. I’ve been around the game for 40 years, and I learn things regularly [from him]. He’s a great teacher of the game and he’s always going to have a coaching element to how he approaches things.”
Olczyk said he knew from the time he was 12 or 13 that he was going to be involved in sports, be it playing or as part of the media. He ended up doing both, turning a great NHL career into a great post-NHL one. He talked of his broadcasting career start on local radio. His first broadcast work on TV, which was to be April 21, 1999, was canceled in the wake of a tragedy. The Columbine massacre occurred that day, and the Colorado Avalanche opened that first-round series against the Sharks in San Jose, instead.
Olczyk was a finalist for the Blackhawks’ color analyst job in 2000 – Dale Tallon did it for those next few seasons – before getting the job in 2006. He and Foley have been the Blackhawks’ broadcasting tandem since 2008.
“We try to teach the game, make you laugh,” Olczyk said. “It’s the one thing I love about being with Pat: there’s incredible timing, incredible feel and we hope it comes across the broadcast each and every night, whether the Blackhawks are winning and losing.”
Olczyk joked that all he knows are pucks and ponies. His great knowledge of both has helped him enjoy a fruitful post-hockey career.