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Olczyk won't be playing favorites

But former Hawks player not backing away from roots

Ed Sherman

On media

9:37 PM CDT, June 11, 2013

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After experiencing too many hotel rooms and airports, Eddie Olczyk is happy to have a home game for the Stanley Cup Final. However, there are a couple of negatives.

For instance, Olczyk is being overwhelmed by ticket requests.

"I changed my voice mail to, 'Call 312-455-7000 (the Blackhawks' number) if you want tickets,'" Olczyk said.

But the larger issue is one of perception.

Wednesday, the former Blackhawks player and its current TV analyst will join Mike Emrick for NBC's coverage of the Stanley Cup Final. Don't think for a minute some viewers won't notice the Chicago connection in Boston.

Olczyk knows there will be Bruins fans who will accuse him of favoritism toward the Hawks. He got a taste during the Pittsburgh-Boston series in the East Final. Olczyk spent eight years as a player, coach and analyst with the Penguins.

"I had Boston people saying I was favoring the Penguins because I used to work there," Olczyk. "And you know what? There were people in Pittsburgh who thought I was favoring the Bruins. That means I'm doing my job. The perceptions always are going to be there. People are going to hear what they want to hear."

Olczyk insists he has the same approach with Emrick as he does with Pat Foley. He admits there might be a bit more "shtick" as far as nicknames and other banter during local telecasts of Hawks games. However, he didn't become one of the best in the business by playing favorites.

"My job is tell people why something happened," Olczyk said. "If a guy makes a mistake, I'm going to call him out. It's not any different on a local game or a national game. I take great pride in being consistent. I'm very comfortable in the chair that I sit in."

How much longer will Olczyk be in that chair? While repeatedly saying he has "the best job in the world," he also acknowledges he has some "unfinished business" after Pittsburgh fired him in December 2005 after a season-plus as a coach.

Now 46, Olczyk sounds as if the itch is intensifying to return as a coach or as a front office executive at some level. It might not happen next year, but to hear him talk, it wouldn't be a surprise if he jumped back in sooner than later.

"I'm a hockey guy," Olczyk said. "There's always that unfinished business of what happened in Pittsburgh. When you get knocked down, you want to get back up and get at it. Whether the opportunities present itself in college, junior, or at the professional level, remains to be seen. It's a stone I'm always going to be looking under."

For now, though, Olczyk is focused on the upcoming Final. While he will be impartial during the telecasts, he doesn't back away from his roots. He is thrilled to be on the call again as the Hawks make a run for their second title in four years.

"As a kid growing up here, it was like, 'Hockey? Really?'" Olczyk said. "Now I couldn't be prouder that hockey is front and center in this town."

Games on TV: Just a reminder that after Wednesday's game on WMAQ-Ch. 5, Games 2 and 3 will be on NBC Sports Network. Then Channel 5 will air the remaining games of the series.

Channel 5 can't wait to cash in. Nearly 700,000 Chicago households tuned into Saturday's game, with the number peaking at 843,000 during the second overtime against the Kings.

Games on Radio: This was a no-brainer. WGN-AM 720 will air all of the Final games. On the nights where there are conflicts (Game 3 and 4, and if necessary, Game 7), the Cubs will shift over to WLUP-FM 97.9.

The Cubs gave their consent for the move, as they did during the 2010 Final. And if you really want to listen to the Cubs vs. Milwaukee on June 26 as opposed to a possible Game 7, by all means tune into WLUP.

History: The March 29, 1971, issue of Sports Illustrated featured the Esposito brothers on the cover. In the story, Phil, the high-scoring center for the Bruins, said of his brother Tony, the star goalie for the Blackhawks: "My brother is my best friend and the greatest goalie in hockey, but when we get on the ice he's not my brother, he's just another goaltender we have to beat."

Expect to hear plenty of stories of the Espositos and more, as NBC is sure to play up the Original 6 aspect of the Final.

"In these two cities in particular, they will appreciate the history," Emrick said. "It's passed down by generation. The exciting thing to us is that that there is an appreciation for people who have played in the past."

Remote patrol: Comcast Sport Net will have comprehensive pre- and postgame coverage throughout the series. Wednesday, it will air the Blackhawks' morning skate at 10:30 a.m. … How big are the Bruins in Boston? Hockey writer Kevin Paul Dupont did a tweet that said the Boston Globe will have 14 staffers in Chicago for the first two games. "Becz it's the Cup," he tweeted.

Is there something else going on this week? Oh yes, the U.S. Open begins Thursday at Merion. NBC and ESPN will have a combined 35 hours of coverage. … The Boston Herald wasted no time jumping on Tim Tebow signing with the New England Patriots. The tabloid splashed the quarterback on the front page with the headline, "Good God! It's our Tebow time."

Special contributor Ed Sherman writes at shermanreport.com. Follow him @Sherman_Report