Blackhawks

As Eddie Olczyk battles, Hockey Fights Cancer hits home for Blackhawks

As Eddie Olczyk battles, Hockey Fights Cancer hits home for Blackhawks

There are times when moments hit you harder than normal. For the Blackhawks, given color analyst Eddie Olczyk’s battle with colon cancer, hosting Hockey Fights Cancer on Monday night had that much more significance.

Olczyk was part of the Blackhawks’ Hockey Fights Cancer pregame ceremony on Monday, dropping the ceremonial puck with 9-year-old Mount Prospect native Lauren Graver, who is battling rhabdomyosarcoma (a rare muscle cancer). Olczyk had his latest round of chemotherapy on Monday morning, which includes going home with a portable pump for additional chemotherapy over 48 hours.

For the Blackhawks, Olczyk’s fight has been inspiring.

“Obviously it’s tough news when you hear that about Edzo but it seems like he’s been doing good and been fighting it really hard,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s always good to see him around the rink. We know he’s battling and some days might be tougher than others, but he seems to show up and be around the rink and talk hockey with the guys. So it’s fun to see him around and he’s a great man. Obviously we wish him the best, too.”

Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer in August. He’s made periodic analyst appearances this season, beginning with the Blackhawks’ game at St. Louis on Oct. 18. His latest game was Wednesday when the Blackhawks traveled to Tampa.

“We see him on the road, we’ve seen him here. It’s a great night around the league to raise awareness for cancer and I’ve been able to talk to him a little bit,” Ryan Hartman said. “He looks great. He’s been able to broadcast a lot more games than I thought he was going to be able to and it’s good to see him around.”

Coach Joel Quenneville, speaking of the various Hockey Fights Cancer nights around the league, said, “it’s been great moments throughout the month, great reflecting on who it’s touched and the people you’re familiar with who are dealing with it. I think immediately of Edzo. Every game, in each market, everyone has their people. The NHL does a great job of making sure that these type of situations, the awareness and support is there.”

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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