In a potentially seismic event in the Chicago sports market, the Blackhawks and TV analyst Eddie Olczyk appear to part ways.
Olczyk likely won’t return as a color commentator for Hawks games on NBC Sports Chicago, the Tribune confirmed. Athletic reported for the first time the expected split on Monday.
According to The Athletic, “negotiations stalled” before the Hawks could officially renew Olczyk’s contract, which expired on June 30.
Olczyk could not be reached for comment.
A Hawks source said the team believed it had given the former Hawks forward an “above-market offer” on a multi-year contract extension that “significantly” increased his per-game salary.
Team officials thought they had reached a verbal agreement weeks ago and were awaiting Olczyk’s signature, the source said, and were “shocked” by Monday’s development.
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Under his old contract, Olczyk was paid for a full 82-game schedule, though each year he would pull out of local games on occasion to work for TNT and other national hockey broadcasts, as well as handicap horse racing for NBC.
What was new was that the Hawks wanted to trade on a per-game fee, although they sweetened the offer for each game. According to the team source, “Eddie still would have been one of the highest-paid announcers in the league.”
The Hawks hadn’t been calling potential replacements for Olczyk, the source said, but rather scouting backups for those times when he would be assigned to national broadcasts.
Olczyk has been the Hawks’ color commentator since the 2006-07 season, when he was paired with Dan Kelly.
But it was the combination of Olczyk and Pat Foleywho joined him in 2008, became synonymous with Hawks broadcasts.
Foley stepped away from his play-by-play duties after last season’s farewell tour. Despite speculation that he was ejected, both Foley and the Hawks said his departure was amicable.
Chris Vosters was named Foley’s successor and he’ll need a new partner if Olczyk doesn’t return next season.