U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Olczyk: “It means so much to me and my entire family”

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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.

Fisher also contacted by Canada for Olympics along with Doan, Iginla

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Add Mike Fisher to the list of veteran free agents who’ve at least been contacted to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Hockey Canada VP of hockey operations Scott Salmond revealed as much to TSN 1040 on Thursday while also noting their interest in Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla.

“As Hockey Canada we have tremendous respect for all of those players,” Salmond said. “There’s no question that their leadership and their experience could be invaluable to our team.”

(Read more about Canada contacting Doan and Iginla specifically in this post.)

Fisher, 37, shares certain similarities with Doan and Iginla. All three players have captained NHL teams, each brings a mixture of scoring ability and grit to the table, and they all obviously have plenty of experience.

Pending talks with Nashville

On the other hand, there are a few potential differences that make Fisher’s case interesting.

For one thing, Fisher hasn’t decided – or hasn’t shared his decision – regarding a return to the Nashville Predators just yet. That choice is expected to come sometime next week.

The thing is, Fisher at least has some say in that matter, as he might make the choice not to come back. In the cases of Doan and Iginla, they might struggle to find suitors in free agency (or at least find suitors willing to give them the specific deals they seek).

A first for Fisher?

While that might hurt Canada’s chances, there’s another wrinkle: Fisher hasn’t really gotten “the call” quite like Doan or Iginla have. Fisher hasn’t ever suited up for Canada in the Olympics and, according to Hockey Reference, hasn’t suited up for Canada since the 2009 World Championships.

Perhaps that rare opportunity might trump playing another season in the NHL? A few weeks of international hockey wouldn’t represent the same wear-and-tear as playing through an 82-game season.

(There’s also at least the concept of playing in the Olympics and then trying to find a deal with the Predators, however unlikely that might be.)

While Doan and especially Iginla stand as bigger names, you could make a very reasonable argument that Fisher actually has more left in the tank. He’s also a center, which Canada might deem a lacking position heading into the 2018 Winter Olympics.

For all we know, none of these three forwards will bite at the opportunity. This seems like one of those creative ideas that might not work out.

It’s easy to see why Canada’s reps would at least get the conversation going, and Fisher might just be the best target to aim for.

Hurricanes give Di Giuseppe a two-way deal for 2017-18

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The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Phil Di Giuseppe to a one-year, two-way contract on Thursday.

The team announced that Di Giuseppe’s deal is worth $725K at the NHL level and $125K in the AHL in 2017-18.

Di Giuseppe, 23, was the 38th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He’s been getting some looks at the NHL level with Carolina:

2015-16: 17 points in 41 games
2016-17: seven points in 36 games

He’s also been splitting time between the AHL and NHL lately, so a two-way deal works well enough.

Carolina doesn’t have much more to do on the free agent front, but that doesn’t mean that their off-season is wrapped up, as there’s still that whole ownership situation to settle.

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eichel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least develop into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.