Eddie Olczyk has put cancer behind him and has turned his focus to helping others.
Olczyk spread awareness as the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador by signing copies of his new book "Beating the Odds in Hockey and Life" at the NHL Store in New York City on Tuesday.
Olczyk, who played 1,031 NHL games, coached the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2003-06, and is a TV analyst on local Chicago Blackhawks games and national games on NBC, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2017. He returned to the broadcast booth in October that year, then announced he was cancer free on a Blackhawks broadcast in March 2018.
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He said Tuesday he "feels great" and is hoping his book, released Oct. 8, will help readers feel better too.
"That's really the goal is to help somebody get through the day," Olczyk said. "Life is not easy. I don't care if you're sick or not, it's a battle. … I have a platform, and I really believe that it's my purpose now to spread awareness so somebody can hear my story and say 'Hey if that old, broken-down hockey player can do it, I can do it too.'"
Olczyk mingled with fans, posed for pictures and signed books to each person that waited in line to meet him. He traded stories and his engaging conversation left many amazed.
"Usually you meet people, and they're like 'Sign the book, nice to meet you' and then you leave," said Dan Cafiero of Massapequa, New York, who wanted to meet Olczyk before attending the New York Islanders vs. Ottawa Senators game in Brooklyn. "He was making conversation with me, which is just awesome."
Cat Kaplan, a Blackhawks fan who lives in New York but is from Olczyk's hometown of Niles, Illinois, found out about his appearance and had to meet him. She recalled how upset she felt upon learning about his diagnosis.
"When I found out that he was sick, it was devastating, and you could really tell he was gone," Kaplan said of Olczyk's absence from TV. "I was following along and hoping for good news, and I'm just so happy that he made it back."
Half the proceeds of each book sold went to Hockey Fights Cancer, and Olczyk hopes readers feel an array of emotions while reading.
"It's more than just a hockey book," Olczyk said. "Hopefully I can help inspire somebody out there, and I think you'll laugh a little and love a little bit more after the book."