Blackhawks: Eddie Olczyk honored with Ring Lardner award


Blackhawks: Eddie Olczyk honored with Ring Lardner award

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.”

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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.

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!