Talking Hockey, Life, and Broadcasting with Nick Olczyk of the Seattle Kraken

Dan Rosen/NHL.com
Dan Rosen/NHL.com

Seattle Kraken/TNT color analyst Eddie Olczyk always dreamed about playing in the NHL.

The man they call “Edzo” accomplished that and more in a terrific 18-year playing career in the league. He finished with 794 points (342 goals and 452 assists) in 1,031 games before having a brief coaching stint and then moving into the broadcasting booth full-time.

One of his sons, Nick, also grew up dreaming about being involved with the best hockey league in the world. He played a ton of hockey while growing up, but after two years of playing Division I hockey at Colorado College, he realized that he probably was not going to make it as a professional hockey player.

Despite feeling embarrassed, disappointed, and feeling like he let everyone from his family to his coaches down, Nick quickly pivoted to a different career in hockey. He felt that with this particular career, he might be able to make it to the NHL.

Nick decided to make the transition to broadcasting hockey games. He said that he had done a lot of it while growing up, except that it was through EA Sports’ NHL series.

“Ever since I could remember, I knew that I could end up broadcasting hockey games for a living one day,” Nick told Inside The Rink. “I would broadcast EA Sports’ NHL series at all hours of the night and it would get so bad that my mom would have to come barging into my room begging me to stop.”

Now, there are a lot of people out there who probably did this while playing sports games growing up. With that said, Nick felt like there was a reason why he was doing it.

“I do not know if I did it because I enjoyed playing the game or because I was developing an innate passion for broadcasting hockey games,” Nick questioned. “When my mom would come to my room to tell me to stop, I would tell her I could not because I was practicing.”

Nick got his first broadcasting gig as an analyst with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. He spent three seasons with the Fuel and enjoyed his first job in hockey broadcasting.

“After I left Colorado College and returned home to Chicago, I started looking for broadcasting gigs and I noticed that the Fuel only had one broadcaster,” Nick explained. “I reached out to their owner, Jim Hallett, and he was gracious enough to allow me to do all their home games. It was great of him to give me a platform to do what I always wanted to do.”

One of the most rewarding parts of being with the Fuel was that he got to broadcast a game with his dad, which was the first time that the Fuel ever used a three-man broadcast booth. The special event happened back on April 9, 2021, in a game against the Fort Wayne Komets.

“Broadcasting the game with my dad was quite surreal,” Nick remembered. “I remember having several sleepless nights before the game because I had no idea how I was going to refer to him on the broadcast.”

As it turned out, Nick referred to his dad the same way that other colleagues call him, “Edzo”. All in all, it ended up being a night to remember for the Olczyk family.

“It was such a heartwarming night for me, my dad, and the rest of my family,” Nick said. “When you get to work with your idol or role model, which is what my dad is for me, directly, there is nothing better than that.”

Thanks to his strong broadcast work with the Fuel, NBC Sports Chicago noticed him and brought him on board. Nick would end up doing behind the scenes work for the Blackhawks production team.

Nick cut tape, brokedown specific plays, did video work, and helped with the pre and post-game shows, which led to other exciting opportunities for Nick.

“Because of the work I did with NBC Sports Chicago, I got to help with coverage of the Olympics in 2020 (Tokyo) and 2022 (Beijing) from the NBC offices in Stamford, CT,” Nick said. “It was all valuable experience as it would give me an upper hand throughout my career as I knew everything from went on in front of the camera and behind the camera.”

It also led to Nick being a fill-in Blackhawks radio color analyst for Troy Murray, who had cancer at the time. Nick originally thought it was going to be a short stint as they originally asked him to fill in for three games, but it turned out to be a lot more.

“I originally thought that those three games would be it for the season,” Nick said. “I ended up doing between 40-45 games, which was great.”  

On January 22, 2022, Nick made his NHL television debut on NBC Sports Chicago as he filled in for his dad, then the Blackhawks color analyst, in the third period of a game against the Minnesota Wild as his father was experiencing a medical issue. It is an experience that he has never forgotten.

“My dad was feeling under the weather the day of the game,” Nick explained. “Like the hockey player he was, however, he wanted to grind it out and get the job done.”

As things got closer to game time, Eddie was still not feeling well. It got to a point where Pat Foley, the former Hall of Fame Blackhawks broadcaster, had to go where Nick was doing a segment on the radio and give a piece of paper to Nick’s broadcast partner, John Wiedeman, that said that Nick had to go to the TV booth when he is done with his segment so that he can fill in for his father.

To say Nick was shocked would be an understatement.

“At that moment, I had all these questions running through my head,” Nick said. ‘Why? ‘How? Is my dad okay? Broadcasting a hockey game was not the first thing on my mind at that particular time.”

It turns out that Edzo managed to make it through two periods before things took a turn for the worse. Dr. Sheldon Burns of the Minnesota Wild, who also happens to be a friend of Eddie’s back from his time with the 1984 Team USA Olympic hockey team, told Eddie to go to the hospital and get things taken care of.

“I was scared, nervous, excited, and also devastated because of what my dad was going through,” Nick said. “With that said, it ended up being the first NHL game I ever did on television. To do it with the team I grew up cheering for was a dream come true.”

In doing the remainder of the game, Nick spoke glowingly of Foley, someone he grew up watching, listening to, and idolizing.

“Foley is a dear friend who took unbelievably good care of me in that game,” Nick remarked. “He gave me the air to talk and made sure to include me as much as possible.”

After his time with the Blackhawks, Nick moved to Seattle and joined the Kraken in their second year of existence. With the Kraken, Nick is a studio analyst and also does some between-the-benches work.

In his time with the Kraken, Nick has won two Emmy awards for his outstanding work as an analyst. It is certainly something that he does not take for granted.

“I am very fortunate because Tod Leiweke and the rest of the great Kraken organization put me in a position to succeed,” Nick beamed. “I owe them a lot.”

Speaking of hockey and broadcasting, Nick, despite being younger than me (I am 41 and he is 27), is someone who I look up to in the sport. He works incredibly hard, loves hockey, and is passionate about what he does for a living.

He expressed his deep love for both the sport and his profession back in mid-March in an inspiring post on Instagram. He said the following:

“I’m obsessed with my career because it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do ever since I was broadcasting hockey games in my bedroom at 7 years old … not just … my livelihood at 27.

I hope that my passion for the greatest sport in the entire world is evident every single time that I appear on camera, on the radio, or in any format that allows me the honor of communicating about what makes me the happiest and gives my life meaning: hockey.

Once you find whatever it is you love to do, never forget why you fell in love with it in the beginning. I wish everyone can make a life out of pursuing their unrelenting passion, just as I have.”

When I asked Nick what made him post this, he explained that he does not take anything for granted and simply loves his profession.

“I get to do what I love,” Nick said. “I get to spread my passion for hockey, talk about hockey, and teach hockey to everyone, which has me pinching myself and making sure that I am not dreaming every single day.”

If you are not doing so already, please make sure to follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram. Please also make sure to listen to the podcast he records with the Kraken, “Signals From the Deep”.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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