Eddie Olczyk leaves the Chicago Blackhawks after 15 seasons as their TV color analyst.
The former Blackhawks striker said in a statement that he could not obtain a new contract with the Chicago ownership.
“This was my decision to retire,” Olczyk told NHL.com. “We just could not agree on a contract. I had a good conversation with (owner) Rocky Wirtz, a good conversation with Danny (Wirtz, CEO) and Jaime [Faulkner, president of business operations). It was hard. I’m just very thankful for the last 15 years. This is my home, it’ll always be my home, but I just felt I had to take a step back and reassess and have some other opportunities that I’m looking at.”
Olczyk had been an in-game analyst for NBC Sports Chicago since 2006-07 and was the lead analyst for the “NHL on TNT” last season after holding the same position for NBC Sports from 2007-21. The NHL and Turner Sports completed the first of a seven-year media rights agreement.
“The fans have been unbelievable, and I just thank the entire organization,” Olczyk said. “There are so many relationships there, even with all the changeover. Still, many people I’ll stay in contact with. I’m just very thankful to Rocky and Danny for the opportunity and a special shout-out to (former Blackhawks vice president) Peter Wirtz and (former executive director of communications) Jimmy De Maria who brought me back to Chicago back in 2006 when the team was looking for somebody to do color.”
The 55-year-old was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in August 2017 and broadcast his first game since then when the Blackhawks played the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 18 of that year. He announced he was cancer-free March 22, 2018.
According to NBC Sports Chicago, the Blackhawks said they reached a verbal agreement for Olczyk to return this season and were waiting for him to sign a contract.
“We were fortunate to have legendary broadcaster Eddie Olczyk bring Chicago Blackhawks hockey into the homes of our fans,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “We are going to miss him as much as our fans will. Though we are disappointed to learn today that he has decided to go in another direction, Eddie will always be part of the Blackhawks family. We appreciate his many contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick in the 1984 NHL Draft, Olczyk played five seasons for Chicago (1984-87 and 1998-2000). He had 794 points (342 goals, 452 assists) in 1,031 games for the Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. He won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1993-94 and coached the Penguins for two seasons between 2003-05, going 31-64-10 with eight ties.