It was formally announced Thursday that veteran broadcaster Eddie Olczyk will make it a three-person team for ROOT Sports’ Kraken coverage while he continues to travel the country contributing to TNT broadcasts.
The Seattle Times confirmed July 18 that Olczyk, who turns 56 next week, would join John Forslund and JT Brown on the ROOT Sports broadcast for the 2022-23 season. He has multiple ties to the organization.
Olczyk had been the color analyst for Chicago Blackhawks broadcasts since 2006. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Olczyk saw his deal expire after the last season and while there was a contract “on the table,” they couldn’t reach an agreement. The Kraken offered him a different contract length than the Blackhawks did.
He joins a team in Seattle that called the team’s inaugural season. He and Forslund have collaborated on national game broadcasts.
“The hardest thing to do in this business is chemistry, and I think we have the built-in chemistry with the three of us,” Forslund said Thursday. “We’re proud of it. We’re glad to have (Olczyk) on board.”
Forslund, who handles play-by-play, knows his placement. Olczyk referenced both situations — all three men in the booth, or someone down at ice level.
“We’re still trying to get the lay of the land,” he said, adding either way it shouldn’t take long to adjust.
Olczyk pointed out that he’d known Brown, 32, since the recently retired NHL winger was a teenager. Olczyk’s oldest son, Eddie, was a teammate of Brown’s in the U.S. Hockey League. The younger Eddie Olczyk is now an amateur scout for Seattle.
“I learned a lot this year just from picking John’s brain,” Brown said. “I think just having another person who is at the top of their craft and to be able to talk to them…whether it’s looking at how they do their notes, how they prepare for a game, little things like that I can pick up on … having somebody like ‘Edzo’ and John on the team will only be beneficial for myself, selfishly.”
Olczyk enjoyed a 16-year NHL career and was a teammate of Kraken general manager Ron Francis on the Pittsburgh Penguins (1996-98).
“When Eddie was doing color (commentary) for Pittsburgh, I was (playing) in Carolina, so he was staying at my house that was vacant,’’ Francis told the Times in 2019.
Olczyk’s younger brother, Ricky, is an assistant general manager for the Kraken. Eddie said the chance to work in the same sphere on a nightly basis was a draw.
The Kraken confirmed Olczyk, a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, would continue to appear on NBC Sports’ Triple Crown horse racing coverage as well.
“Just to make it perfectly clear, my TNT schedule has precedence on our local games, so there are games where I’m not going to be around,” Olczyk said. “It’s nothing different than I had in Chicago with the Blackhawks all those years, and they were very accommodating.”
Olczyk said he didn’t have the national schedule yet and logistics still had to be worked out. In years past — albeit before ESPN re-entered the picture — he was able to join local coverage for around 50 of 82 regular-season games.
He expects to be at Kraken training camp and exhibition games.
“I’m just looking forward to fitting in,” Olczyk said. “I’m looking forward to bringing my experience and to help kind of tie the three of us together when we are working together.
“I just want to be able to add to both of these guys and the foundation they’ve already laid in Seattle.”