Recently, it was announced that Eddie Olczyk, a former first-round pick of the Blackhawks and current television analyst for the team, will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Olczyk scored 342 goals and produced 794 points in a 16-year career and was just one of seven players in a five year span (’87-’92) to score 30 or more goals in each season. At the recent Blackhawks fan convention-- at which he was master of ceremonies -- Olczyk sat down for a question and answer session about all things hockey including the team he played and now broadcasts for.
Jesse Rogers: Do you think your inclusion into the US Hockey Hall of Fame is purely due to your playing days or a culmination of all the things you’ve done in your career on and off the ice including promoting U.S. Hockey.
Eddie Olczyk: I’d like to think my numbers speak for themselves but I think the nine different times I represented our country as a player and then once as a coach, and the speaking engagements on behalf of US hockey, it’s probably everything under the umbrella. I’ve been involved with hockey in the U.S. since I was 17 … I’d like to think a lot of is player wise, but Ill certainly take the other aspects with it.
Rogers: Did the last Olympics finally show the world USA Hockey has reached a more than respectable level?
Olczyk: I think everybody before that knew how far we’ve come and how good of a country we are as far as playing the game. I think our top 50 players can compete on that world stage, but when you start talking top 100 or 200 players and you talk about our greatest rival its Canada. I still believe Canada’s greatest rival is the Russians. I believe that. As an alum that still bothers me but maybe it’s changing.
Rogers: Let’s pivot right to Patrick Kane on this subject. While the World Championships were going on in early May a great player like him was kind of in the spotlight for other reasons. Would you have liked to seen him play in the championships?
Olczyk: Oh, absolutely. I said it then and I’ll say it now: I was disappointed that he didn’t go. Now, I don’t know why. Health and personal reasons come into it but I think that’s where we, as USA hockey, we need all of our players to stop what they’re doing when that phone rings and no hesitation, you go. That’s the difference between Canada and the US, guys are stopping whatever they’re doing and going. And it’s been like this for a long time, we don’t have full cooperation from our players. Now I’m talking at levels below the Olympics. I was disappointed that he didn’t go and it obviously culminated with what happened on that May weekend. We need players like Kaner to go when they get called.