Eddie Olczyk Jr., the son of former NHL forward and NBC Sports hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk, released the following statement Thursday on Twitter in response to countless messages the family has received after his father was diagnosed with colon cancer last week:
"After what has been a very emotional number of days for my family, I'd like to say thank you for the unbelievable amount of support we have received," said Olczyk Jr., an assistant hockey coach at Bemidji State University. "The hockey world is something we wouldn't trade for anything, and the positivity and encouraging messages that have come our way during this unexpected and difficult time has truly been incredible. My dad is the strongest person I know. He's a fighter to the core and is going to beat this. He's going to go pound for pound with this disease and be standing with his hands in the air at the end as he did 361 times in his career. He's said to us for years, 'The true colors of someone, some team, or some thing are not when times are good, but when times are tough.' He's a phenomenal teacher of the greatest game in the world and will now be showing everyone how he will overcome this obstacle. He'll be back on his feet, in the booth, and at the track in no time. This [I] know."
Olczyk, who turns 51 on Aug. 16, has been the in-game analyst for Chicago Blackhawks games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV since the 2006-07 season. He's been the lead hockey analyst for NBC Sports since 2007, working regularly with play-by-play announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick. In the past two years, he also has covered Triple Crown and other major horse racing events for NBC.
He was selected by the Blackhawks with the third pick in the 1984 NHL Draft, and played five seasons for them (1984-87, 1998-2000). He had 794 points (342 goals, 452 assists) in 1,031 games for the Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, and was part of the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup championship. He coached the Penguins for two seasons between 2003-05, going 31-64-10 with eight ties.
"I have been working with outstanding health care professionals and expect to be back in the broadcast booth after I complete my treatment," Olczyk said in a statement issued by the Blackhawks on Tuesday. "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."