Oct 10, 2012, 3:52 PM EDT
On Oct. 15, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame will induct its three newest members — Lou Lamoriello, Mike Modano and Ed Olczyk.
For the latter, the induction will celebrate much more than his days with the ‘Hawks, Leafs, Jets, Rangers, Kings and Penguins.
Olczyk has been instrumental in promoting the game in a number of ways — as a player, coach and broadcaster — something CSN Chicago encapsulates in its lengthy tribute to one of the most influential people in U.S. hockey history.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece, entitled An American Hero:
There’s no doubt Olczyk’s standout amateur career with Team USA and the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, to go along with his stellar professional career in the NHL with Chicago, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Winnipeg, the New York Rangers (where he won a Stanley Cup championship in 1994) and Los Angeles — pouring in 342 goals, 794 points in 1,031 career games — have earned him a rightful place in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, but Olczyk’s honor goes beyond that. He’s a teacher of the game who wants to bring the sport of hockey to the forefront in the eyes of all American sports fans.
“I’m sure somebody can make the case that there are other people who have done more for hockey in the USA, but this guy’s got to be near, if not right at the top of that list,” said longtime Blackhawks play-by-play announcer and Olczyk’s on-air partner at Comcast SportsNet, Pat Foley.
“When I was told he was going into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, I said ‘as a broadcaster?,’ added Foley. “First of all, he’s that good, but second of all, he’s got a presence…he’s a teacher…he watches the game like a coach and he’s really good at passing along the rights, the wrongs, and how to do things properly. Anybody who listens to him leaves smarter than when he showed up in terms of how to play the game of hockey and how to coach it.”
Prior to his days as an analyst, Olczyk was the head coach in Pittsburgh from 2003-05, a stint that included the first games of Sidney Crosby‘s professional career. From there he proceeded to make his mark in the booth, serving alongside both Foley and, later, with Mike “Doc” Emrick on NBC.
But perhaps Olczyk’s proudest achievement was growing the sport he loves in the country he calls home. The rise in youth hockey enrollment and the strides USA Hockey has made at the junior and the u-18 levels are not lost on him.
“From the national exposure that the game is getting now, I take pride in being a part of the NBC team of bringing NHL games to people and the more people watch it, the more they want to continue to watch it,” Olczyk explained. “We’re in a fast food society. We see it, we want it, we want to try it, and we want to go there.
“So, I take great pride in that aspect of it.”
To read more of CSN Chicago’s Olczyk interview, click here.
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