Eddie Olczyk, interviewing Jonathan Toews, has watched his popularity skyrocket as a television analyst. | Getty Images
Updated: November 16, 2012 6:19AM
Monday night will be memorable for Eddie O.
Popular Blackhawks broadcaster and former NHL player Eddie Olczyk – arguably the most vocal and active supporter of American hockey – will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Dallas.
The Sun-Times caught up with the Chicago-area native before his big day.
What are your emotions heading into the ceremony?
It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and I had just come to accepting that it maybe wasn’t going to happen. I got the call in July, and all of a sudden here we are. I’m just really excited. I’ll be with my family, a lot of friends, and the Blackhawks are going to come in strong numbers.
What does it mean to be an American hockey player right now?
We have the ability to be the best at this game, and the more numbers that we have and the opportunities, we’re going to prove that. We don’t have to play second fiddle to anybody anymore.
How would you sum up your hockey experience in the Chicago area?
That’s where I fell in love with the game: the car rides with Mom and Dad, spending 300 days a year at the old Ballard Sports Complex in Niles or the Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood. There weren’t any doubts I was a rink rat.
How important is it for American NHL players to be active in youth hockey?
I’ve always looked at it as a part of my role as an American-born player, regardless of where I played or what my status was, and even to this day. It’s an opportunity to help teach not only hockey skills, but life skills. Hockey taught me so much about the real world. I have always tried to give back with the time I had.
Did you ever think “Stop it right here” would be on T-shirts?
I don’t think I ever thought it would become a catch phrase. For me, it’s just a way to work my telestrator and letting our great tape people know when to stop the tape. There are a lot of people who deserve a lot of credit when I say it. It’s been a fun thing. People have kind of fallen in love with it.
What’s the most unexpected aspect of your hockey experience?
When I was growing up, all I ever wanted to do was play for the Blackhawks. I didn’t know how that would happen. I didn’t know how you got there. I was the first-ever American-born native son to be drafted by his hometown team in the first round. Wanting to be drafted by the Blackhawks, to playing my 1,000th game and last game for the Blackhawks, it was a dream to do it.