DALLAS (93-7 THE FAN/AP) — Once upon a time, original Pittsburgh Penguin Ken Schinkel became the first to serve the franchise as a player and head coach, and pre-Lemieux legend Rick Kehoe later followed that path. Then, a man drafted just two spots behind Mario one-upped them both.
Current NBC Sports NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk, the only person ever to work for the Pens as a player, head coach, and broadcaster, joined longtime New Jersey Devils president/GM Lou Lamoriello, and Minnesota/Dallas/Detroit forward Mike Modano, the highest-scoring American player in NHL history, as the newest inductees to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night.
Olczyk was taken with the No. 3 pick in the 1984 draft by his hometown Chicago Blackhawks and went on to play 16 years in the NHL after starting his career as an 18-year old rookie.
He finished with 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games with Chicago, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Rangers, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Penguins.
He returned to the Blackhawks for his last two years in the NHL and retired in 2000. He then served as analyst during Penguins telecasts on FSN Pittsburgh (currently known as ROOT Sports) before being hired as head coach in 2003. He was dismissed after an 8-17-6 start in 2005-06.
Olczyk is now NBC’s lead hockey game analyst, most commonly paired with veteran play-by-play announcer and former Geneva College professor Mike “Doc” Emrick.
A member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, Olczyk is also helping to grow the game now in his high-profile position on television.
“I’ve just been really lucky throughout my entire career, and I’ve worn a lot of hats,” Olczyk said. “I was a fan, I was a player, I was a coach, broadcaster and a dad, so on any given night, I can have one of those hats on. I love the game, and hockey has been my and my family’s life.”
That dedication and commitment isn’t lost on Modano, a teammate of Olczyk’s in international competition.
“Just a class guy, his approach to the game and professionalism,” Modano said of Olczyk, his teammate in the 1991 Canada Cup. “He was a lot of fun to be around, so we’ve always had that connection since 1991. He’s been remarkable for the game and on TV, and what he’s done with NBC. He’s our face and voice of USA Hockey, I feel.”
He has successfully passed the game down to his children as well. Sons Eddie Jr. and Tommy starred together on the PIHL team at Chartiers Valley in the previous decade before Eddie Jr. was accepted to UMass, and Tommy joined the new program at Penn State after a brief junior hockey career.
Olczyk’s sons were reunited at the Carolina Hurricanes’ rookie conditioning camp this summer. Fittingly, the Canes are coached by Kirk Muller, who was drafted by the Devils in ’84 between Lemieux and Olczyk.
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