Source: Olczyk moving on from Hawks as color analyst originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks' television booth is going to look and sound different next season.
Eddie Olczyk is moving on from the organization after 16 seasons as the team's TV color analyst, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. His contract with the Blackhawks expired on June 30, and a team source said the leadership group was "blindsided" by Olczyk's decision to leave.
"It was our understanding that we had reached a verbal agreement weeks ago and we were awaiting a signature," the team source said.
Olczyk provided a statement to NBC Sports Chicago, acknowledging that it was his decision to walk away.
"There was a contract on the table, but we just couldn't come to an agreement," Olczyk said. "I decided to step away. I had a great conversation with Rocky Wirtz, Danny Wirtz and Jaime Faulkner. Fifteen years, I'm just so thankful for the opportunity, the fans and working at home and working for the Blackhawks has just been a dream come true. Sometimes, you make business decisions and just couldn't come to terms and decided to step away.
"I'm very thankful to Rocky and Danny. It's been a hell of a run. Fifteen years has been a long time, and I'm just grateful that I had a chance to do it here at home. The fan support has been incredible. This will always be home, but a new opportunity awaits."
Here's what the Blackhawks said in a team statement shortly after:
"For 16 seasons, we were fortunate to have legendary broadcaster Eddie Olczyk bring Chicago Blackhawks hockey into the homes of our fans. 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."
The Blackhawks offered a multi-year contract, according to sources, although it was believed to be a shorter-term deal — likely at two years guaranteed. In the deal, the Blackhawks lowered his actual salary because of his national TV duties but increased his per-game rate, according to a team source. For context, Olczyk was contracted and compensated for all 82 local game broadcasts in his previous deal.
It was originally reported that director of broadcasting Trevor Bray had begun reaching out to former players as potential replacements in the booth, but the Blackhawks disputed that and said they were contacting other alumni only to serve as fill-ins for when Olczyk was away on national assignment.
"We were not contacting anybody to take over Eddie's role," a team source said.
Olczyk, 55, will continue his role as the lead color commentator for NHL on TNT and is expected to sign with the Seattle Kraken, according to a source. The news comes three months after his longtime partner Pat Foley signed off for the final time as the voice of the Blackhawks, a microphone he held for 39 years.
Olczyk is arguably the best analyst in sports and has been a part of every significant moment in franchise history over the last decade and a half, which included calling all three Stanley Cup victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015. As a player, he was selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1984 NHL Draft and inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Feb. 22, 2013.
Chris Vosters was named the new play-by-play announcer in April, and the Blackhawks will likely begin their search for Olczyk's replacement soon.