Blackhawks Score Big with Lunch with a Legend
Juicy prime steaks and sports legends were in abundance on Thursday, January 6 at Morton’s The Steakhouse in downtown Chicago. Over 140 hockey fans, along Blackhawks President John McDonough, sat down to enjoy great steaks and listen to Pat Foley and Eddie ” Edzo” Olczyk, the announcers of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, answer questions during a live taping of ESPN 1000′s The Waddle & Silvy Show for “Morton’s Lunch with a Legend”.
On December 30, 2010, it was announced that Foley and Olczyk signed a three-year extension to stay with the Blackhawks and if anyone knows hockey in this town, it’s Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk. Olczyk, who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, became a game analyst for the Chicago Blackhawks television broadcasts beginning with the 2006-07 NHL season. Foley, popularly known as the “Voice of the Blackhawks,” joined the team’s broadcasting crew at the age of 26 and won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in a Live Sports Program” in 1991. He was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, joining such local legends as Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. The following are some of our favorite excerpts from last Thursday’s live broadcast:
Marc “Silvy” Silverman: How you been? We haven’t talked to you in a long time.
Eddie Olczyk: Doing very well. Really busy time of year and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been an obviously amazing 2010 and being a small part of the great run the Blackhawks had last year.
Silvy: The one question I always like to ask a member of the Blackhawks is ‘your one snapshot of when you think of 2010, you go to where…?”
Olczyk: I have to go to the parade. I have to go to the celebration of the Stanley Cup Championship. The way the city handled it and the way the Blackhawks organization set up the parade route from the United Center to downtown in the greatest city in the world. The reaction on the people’s faces, not only people within the organization but the players, the coaches and of course the greatest fans in the world.
Silvy: Pat, does last season and the celebration still stick with you as much as ever?
Pat Foley: No question about it; it will never leave. That’s a career highlight and a life moment that will never go away. The word I always come back to summing up that day is “surreal”. One thing about that championship I need to throw out there, and I never had a chance to say this is in Philadelphia the night we won… everyone’s phone is blowing up and there’s a huge celebration there and it took us hours to get home, but everything you heard that was happening in Chicago was that the streets were being taken over by the people in Chicago in a joyous celebration. Nobody is turning over any cars, nobody is breaking any windows, nobody is looting, and nobody is burning anything. I couldn’t have been more proud to be a Chicagoan at that moment.
Silvy: When did you know that the streak could be broken?
Olczyk: In talking to the front office about the importance of getting the right people who will go to the end to be the best. Not just once, but every single year. It’s very demanding and challenging, there is a lot of peer pressure in the organization, but I think it starts with the people at the top and filters it’s way down. But once you saw the emergence of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, you really felt you had the core. Then it’s just about piecing the puzzle together, getting the belief and you need a little luck both on and off the ice. I think the transformation has been phenomenal. I couldn’t be more proud.
Silvy: The salary cap has changed the landscape of professional sports. You can’t keep everyone, but can you guys remember in recent history where a defending champion had so much turnover based on the financial limitations they were up against?
Foley: I don’t think it’s ever happened in any sport. One of the things that made last year so special was that everyone knew that some dramatic things had to happen. All the new contracts for the young guys kicked in this year. Everybody knew that the group last year was not going to be able to stay together. That really enhances how special last year was to me.
Silvy: What about you two? We see the chemistry and it’s not easy to get chemistry. You guys have it. Do you like each other off the air?
Foley: We spend a lot of time together on the road. We are friends. It’s not mandatory to have a partnership but it helps. I have been very lucky to work with some very good broadcasters who turned into great friends of mine. The chemistry we have started the first moment I sat down next to [Olczyk]. I knew he was a great broadcaster; I knew he was a great guy; I was really looking forward to come back to the Blackhawks and sitting next to Eddie Olczyk. I watched him play the beginning and end of his career here in Chicago. He has always been a high-quality individual, and I’m going to say right here and now that I think he’s the best analyst in pro sports. He’s taught me a lot about the game over the years sitting next to him. He has a great sense of humor, and that’s what it’s all about. Heck. We work in the toy department.
Silvy: Olczyk, you came on once, and you were trying to convince me to go to a Hawks game. But you probably don’t have to do that anymore. Does it seem the casual Hawks fan has bought in now?
Olczyk: There’s no doubt. The in-game experience at the United Center is second to none. At the end of the day, it’s our job to tell a story. We have die hard fans. Hey, it’s not the real world. I think we all know what the real world is, but for us it’s a privilege. This guy here [motions to Foley] is the best. I grew up listening to him. I used to shoot pucks in my garage because the Hawks games weren’t on TV and I would listen to Pat. I love Pat. He’s the greatest partner anybody could ever have, and we have a lot of fun together.
Foley: At 25 years with the Blackhawks, the last decade wasn’t that enjoyable for me or anyone else. The team had fallen into disarray. When I left I didn’t think there was going to be any chance of a return. But I can’t tell you how much it meant to me when my phone rang midway through the 2007 season and [Blackhawks President] John McDonough was on the other end. My heart just leapt, because when you get cast aside after 25 years and you thought you did a reasonably good job, maybe even a great job, how do you react? That hurt. So I moved on and Don Levine, owner of the Chicago Wolves, proved to be an incredible opportunity. If you’re not in the NHL, the Chicago Wolves is where you need to be. But to get that call and to be told that they wanted to talk to me, I just can’t describe how thrilled and excited I was. It was an absolutely uplifting moment in my life, and one that I will never forget. To be welcomed back by the Hawks was so special.
Silvy: You mentioned growing up here and listening to Pat. What was it like for you to realize the dream of becoming a Blackhawk and skating for the very first time on Chicago ice and hearing the roar?
Olczyk: Growing up in Niles, learning to play hockey and to skate for the first time was kind of an oddity for kids at that time to play hockey. Everyone wanted to be a Bear, Bull, Cub or Sock. For me, I wanted to be a Blackhawk. I had a lot of people telling me that I would never make it, because I was from Chicago and not many Chicago kids make it to the NHL. They said I would make it because I was American. I was just very fortunate to get the opportunity to leave home at 15, because I had to go and prove myself . The first time I ever walked into the dressing room, at 18, I was in awe. It was great to get that chance to play in my first season then score a goal in my very first game, it was amazing. For so many years I was sitting at the old Chicago stadium looking through the glass onto the ice, and then here I was skating around and looking out to see my parents sitting in the stands. That was something I will never forget. Oh, and that goal was against the Detroit Red Wings.
Silvy: Pat, as far as your calls go…whatever bar you walk into there’s probably a guy who yells, “Do the Bannerman call!” Do you still get that a lot?
Foley: It does happen. It’s become a signature and that is the power of the media. It was a big call in a big game, but it getting replayed time and time again is pretty funny. The fact that it has worked out, to be an announcer in hockey, I couldn’t tell you how fortunate I feel. Ask anyone in media who works in sports, and they will all tell you hockey guys are the best. This is the greatest sport in the world.
Click here to learn more about Morton’s ‘Lunch with a Legend’ series throughout the U.S.
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