NBC’s Eddie Olczyk undergoing treatment for colon cancer


NBC Sports lead hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk is said to be “recovering well” from surgery to remove a tumor after being diagnosed with a form of colon cancer last week, Chicago Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement Tuesday.

Olczyk played 1,031 NHL games for six teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, from 1984 to 2000, scoring 342 goals and 794 points.

After coaching the Penguins during the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons, Olczyk moved to the broadcast booth as an analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL and also Blackhawks games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

“I have been diagnosed with a form of colon cancer and am currently undergoing treatment for the disease. I have been working with outstanding health care professionals and expect to be back in the broadcast booth after I complete my treatment,” said Olczyk in a statement.

“Having the support and encouragement from my family, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, NBC Sports and all my friends and fans means the world to me and will give me continued strength to beat this. My family and I appreciate privacy during this time as we focus our attention on my treatments.”

Terry said that Olczyk will undergo further treatment, including chemotherapy, over the coming weeks.

“We look forward to his return to good health after the completion of his treatment,” said Terry.

The Blackhawks selected Olczyk third overall in the 1984 NHL Draft. He returned to Chicago to finish his playing career, appearing in 33 games for the Blackhawks in 1999-2000. Five years ago, he was named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Eddie Olczyk is a treasured member of the Chicago Blackhawks family and we will be supportive of him as he fights this disease,” said Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough. “We encourage our fans to keep him in their thoughts as we all look forward to having him back in good health as soon as possible.”

Messages from fans and media wishing Olczyk well have been circulating social media throughout the afternoon since the announcement.

“On behalf of everyone at NBC Sports, we wish Eddie and his family all the best as they cope with this health issue,” said NBC Sports executive producer and president of production Sam Flood in a statement.

“Our top priority is for Edzo to get healthy, so he won’t be joining us at the beginning of the season. We’ll have information on how we’ll staff those games soon. But most of all, we’re looking forward to the day when Edzo comes off IR, and rejoins Doc and Pierre to call the great game of hockey.”

Canucks-Kings exhibition series in China highlights NHL preseason schedule


With training camp approaching, the NHL announced a busy slate of exhibition games that will include travel to a variety of different locations and new venues, most notably in China.

The Vancouver Canucks and L.A. Kings kick off the exhibition schedule on Sept. 16, and will make history a few days later with a two-game series, beginning first at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai (Sept. 21) and then Wukesong Arena Beijing (Sept. 23), marking the first-ever NHL games to take place in China.

The Vegas Golden Knights will also make history with their first exhibition game, which takes place on Sept. 17 against the Canucks in Vancouver. The home debut will have to wait until Sept. 26, when the Golden Knights host the Kings at T-Mobile Arena.

The Detroit Red Wings will move into their new digs with four exhibition games at Little Caesars Arena, beginning Sept. 23 against the Boston Bruins.

Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, will host Kraft Hockeyville 2017, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues come to town on Sept. 24. Those two teams will square off later that night at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, PA. The New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators will then take over O’Leary, P.E.I., as the Kraft Hockeyville festivities head to Canada on Sept. 25. The Devils and Senators face off that night in nearby Summerside, P.E.I.

Travel across the hockey landscape don’t end there.

Here is a detailed list of games in other non-NHL communities:

— Allentown, Pa. (NY Islanders vs. Philadelphia, Sept. 20)

— Bridgeport, Conn. (NY Islanders vs. NY Rangers, Sept. 22)

— Kansas City, Mo. (Minnesota vs. St. Louis, Sept. 28)

— Quebec City, Que. (Montreal vs. Boston, Sept. 18, and Montreal vs. Toronto, Sept. 27)

— Saskatoon, Sask. (Carolina vs. Edmonton, Sept. 27)

— State College, Pa., on the campus of Penn State University (Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh, Sept. 19)

— Tucson, Ariz. (Anaheim vs. Arizona, Sept. 25)

— Uniondale, N.Y. (NY Islanders vs. Philadelphia, Sept. 17).

Another reminder that hockey season is quickly approaching.

Islanders re-sign Gionta to one-year, two-way contract


The New York Islanders made a depth move Tuesday, re-signing Stephen Gionta to a one-year, two-way deal.

Gionta, who will be 34 years old in October, played in 26 games for the Islanders last season, scoring once with six points. He also spent time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League.

Gionta has 296 career games in the NHL, most of them with New Jersey, with 16 goals and 56 points.

Last year, the Islanders inked him to a two-way deal before recalling him in December.

It’s Tampa Bay Lightning day at PHT


The Tampa Bay Lightning was among the hottest teams in the NHL down the stretch of the 2016-17 regular season, but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.

The Bolts finished one point out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a disappointing end to a season of high expectations, after Tampa Bay made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference Final the following year.

Injuries played a part in the Bolts’ struggles.

Steven Stamkos was just starting to heat up in the middle of November when he suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery. He skated with the club late in the season but ultimately didn’t get into the lineup, playing in just 17 games. He had nine goals and 20 points at the time of his injury, although general manager Steve Yzerman wasn’t willing to use the injury bug as an excuse for his team’s failure to qualify for the playoffs.

The good news? Stamkos expects to be ready for the start of next season.

The Bolts lost Jason Garrison to Vegas in the expansion draft and traded forward Jonathan Drouin to Montreal. They did acquire highly touted prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in that deal with the Habs. They also signed veteran defenseman Dan Girardi and four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz, and then secured Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat on long-term deals.

Today at PHT, we will focus on the key storylines impacting the Lightning heading into next season.

Report: Ovechkin is still ‘hopeful’ he’ll participate in 2018 Olympics


Alex Ovechkin is still holding out hope, even though the NHL’s position for months now is that it is not going to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

If that wasn’t enough, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk essentially said there is no chance whatsoever at this point in the summer of the NHL re-arranging its schedule to have its players attend the Games.

“As far as any chance of anything, I do know, it’s a done deal. We’re finished. It’s beyond the point of (no) return because we have our schedule,” Melnyk told Zoomer Radio, per the Ottawa Citizen. “And, now, everybody has been working very hard for the last month to (get ready).

“The schedule is set. The dates are set. All of our fan appreciation days are set. For us, especially, we’re going to Sweden and that’s set. We’re going to have an outdoor game. You can’t move that schedule anymore. There’s 31 teams that are planning things and have planned things. We’re way, way beyond anything to do with 2018. That’s just not going to happen.”

Ovechkin has in the past been defiant, saying he will plan to participate for Russia even if the NHL does not go.

The latest on Monday was that even minor league players on NHL contracts can’t go to the Olympics, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly in conversation with the Associated Press.

And yet, Ovechkin, who is under contract to the Capitals for four more years, is still apparently hoping that he will be able to go represent his country, according to recent reports out of Russia and Washington.

“We’ll hope I’ll be allowed to participate,” he told Sport-Express, according to the Washington Post. “There’s always a chance.”

When the Stanley Cup Final opened in late-May, commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t go into specific details about league policy for NHL players under contract and the Olympics, but said, “We have an expectation that none of our players are going.”

Related: Pre-game reading: Leonsis has Ovechkin’s back on Olympics