Eddie O

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.

For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach
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In Pete DeBoer’s first season as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, he went to the Stanley Cup Final with a roster that was headlined by two pretty talented players in Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.

For DeBoer and the Devils, it never got better than that. By the time he was fired, the team had missed the playoffs two years in a row, Kovalchuk and Parise were elsewhere and the roster was looking pretty, darn barren.

Now, in his first season with San Jose, DeBoer is once again off to the final, this time with a Sharks team that’s headlined by Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Why, you could almost draw the conclusion that a head coach has a much better chance to win with a roster full of talented players.

Certainly, the teams DeBoer had in Florida wouldn’t hurt that theory.

A motivated roster is nice to have as well, and DeBoer definitely had that when he took over in San Jose.

“I inherited a similar team in New Jersey when I went in there,” DeBoer said Wednesday. “First time they missed the playoffs for a long time the year before I got there.

“I think when you go into that situation, when you have really good people like there was in New Jersey when I went in there, like I was with this group, they’re pissed off, they’re embarrassed by the year they just had, and they’re willing to do and buy into whatever you’re selling to get it fixed again.”

DeBoer was also the benefactor of some fine work by GM Doug Wilson, who signed veterans Joel Ward and Paul Martin in free agency and got goalie Martin Jones in a trade. Wilson also signed Joonas Donskoi out of Europe, a year after he did the same with Melker Karlsson. Throw in a few draft picks that have come along — youngsters like Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, and Matt Nieto — and it’s hard to find a real weakness on the roster.

“The additions that Doug made, it just came together,” said DeBoer.

“They were coming off a down season, but they were coming off a decade of great hockey. They’d been well-coached. Todd McLellan and the previous staff are as good as there are in the business. These guys had a great foundation. Right place, right time.”

Related: DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose

Panthers expect Campbell to test free agency

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The Florida Panthers are operating on the premise that veteran d-man Brian Campbell will go unrestricted on July 1.

From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:

[GM Tom] Rowe said that the Panthers told Campbell and his agent they want to re-sign him but it appears Campbell, who turned 37 on Monday, will test the market first.

Campbell will be one to watch on the open market. A terrific puck-mover, he finished with six goals and 31 points for Florida last season while averaging a healthy 22:17 TOI per game.

He rarely gets hurt — Campbell hasn’t missed a game in five years — and has excellent skating ability. All of these attributes mask the fact that 1) he’s not overly physical, 2) he’s not what you’d call a “defensive defenseman,” and 3) he’s had an albatross of a contract.

Signed to a whopping eight-year, $57.1 million deal back in 2008, Campbell has been pulling down $7.14M annually, which has sort of skewed perceptions of him. His $7M+ cap hit puts him alongside the likes of P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kris Letang and Drew Doughty.

But at a lesser price, Campbell might be a really good acquisition.

And what’s more, the market for transitional defensemen is already heating up.

Earlier this week, GM Don Sweeney said the Bruins would be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a puck-moving blueliner.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault conceded his club had a puck-moving problem this year, and could lose both Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle off the blueline.

Finally, there are those Campbell would be up against on the open market.

It’s not an especially deep class for defensmen: Yandle, Alex Goligoski, Dan Hamhuis and Chris Russell headline the list, which makes Campbell all the more valuable.

Max Talbot signs in KHL

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Earlier this week, we passed along word that veteran NHLer Max Talbot was contemplating a move to Europe.

On Friday, that move was made official.

KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl announced that Talbot has agreed to a one-year contract. The deal comes after the 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

Over the course of his 10-year NHL career, Talbot appeared in over 700 games and established himself as a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net.

He scored double-digit goals four times — including a career-high 19 in ’11-12 — and will always be remembered in Pittsburgh for scoring both goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win over Detroit at the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

 

 

Jets assistant Vincent named AHL Manitoba head coach

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  (L-R) Assistant coach Pascal Vincent, head coach Paul Maurice and assistant coach Charlie Huddy and the Winnipeg Jets look from the bench against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 1-0 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Winnipeg didn’t have to look far to find Keith McCambridge’s replacement for its AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Pascal Vincent, who’s served as an assistant coach with the Jets for the last five years, will become the eighth head coach in Moose history, the club announced on Friday.

Vincent, 44, was one of the original hires when the franchise moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. He’s worked under two different head coaches — Claude Noel and Paul Maurice — and is held in high regard by the organization.

That said, he did face some critiques this year. Jets fans were displeased with the Vincent-led power play, which posted a league-worst 14.8 percent success rate, tying Ottawa for the fewest power play goals in the NHL (38).

With today’s reshuffling, there appears to be a spot now open on Maurice’s staff. The Winnipeg Sun reports that Jeff Daniels — former head coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers — could be one to keep an eye on.

Daniels played for Maurice in Carolina, and the pair went to the Stanley Cup Final together in 2002.