Hawks, Olczyk partner to help youth hockey

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks announced Tuesday the team will partner with Blackhawks Charities and Blackhawks TV analyst Eddie Olczyk on the creation of the “Eddie Olczyk Award” to support young hockey players and teams in Illinois that may not have the means to play at a competitive level.

Olczyk said they’ve been working on the project for over two years and he’s thrilled to be a part of giving back to the community he grew up in.

“It’s important because this is my home,” he said. “I couldn’t be more humbled or privileged that they would think of me in this way because this is my home and this is where I learned how to play.”

Olczyk says he wants to take money brought in through youth camps and “put it right back into the youth community.” The money will go towards anything and everything related to hockey, including new uniforms or registration money for a travel player who couldn’t previously afford it.

“We want to hear from everybody,” Olczyk said. “I want to take some of this money and go to local rinks and buy hours of ice time for kids after school and promote it on our website and say, ‘You can go skate on this ice for a few hours after school at your local rink,’ and these kids don’t have to pay anything.”

Their official stated goal is to issue grants to individuals and families in need of assistance for participation in an Illinois sanctioned team or organization, and organizations in need of assistance to run programs which increase the participation in youth hockey. In order to be considered for the inaugural grant process, letters of inquiry must be received by Nov. 22, 2011. Complete information can be found on chicagoblackhawks.com.