Olczyk joined hosts Dan McNeil and Matt Speigel, essentially, as you’ll read, to rundown outgoing Hawks’ defenseman Brian Campbell.
Regarding the interview, which you can find at 670thescore.com – I don’t know of any “fifth defenseman” around the league who led their team in ice time in 18% of the games in which they played (Campbell played in 65 regular season contests this past campaign) and was in the top three in overall ice time nearly 70% of those games. Those are pretty impressive figures considering Campbell vies for shifts with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Either Olczyk is utilizing his active imagination or he says things like this to push the team agenda because he thinks it wins him points with those in charge. And it probably does.
In understating Campbell’s value to the Blackhawks on the ice, the trouble Olczyk runs himself into is that he in the same breath underlines the reasons why Campbell isn’t so easy to replace effectively.
Campbell averaged 26 minutes of ice time during the Blackhawks’ first round series with the Canucks, second only to Keith (by thirty seconds). Only Hjalmarsson and Keith saw more time on the penalty kill in the Vancouver series.
But what most everyone who heard the interview will remember is Olczyk’s out of line distinction of Campbell as a third pair defenseman, a role he was never cast in as a Blackhawk. Especially since Dan McNeil, a once great local talk show host who now drives in shtick mode and should stick to staring at offensive linemen’s hips on Saturdays and Sundays, flippantly discarded Campbell as the same in a follow up question. This you’d expect from the Blackhawks flagship radio station, not one without a stake in the race.
Also, as transcribed from the interview, Olczyk runs through his “greatest city in the world” and “organization that treats their players better than anybody” routine regarding Chicago and the Blackhawks. Well, you tell me how long anyone can stand by the latter when your team’s top broadcaster and national spokesman and famous alumnus runs to a telephone to jump on sports talk radio and kick-in the kidneys of Brian Campbell on his way out the door to Florida?
That’s everything but high-class.
This interview took place a few hours prior to Bieksa re-signing with Vancouver. And obviously (per Olczyk’s comments on Tomas Kopecky) before Kopecky was dealt to and signed with Florida. Olczyk also shared his thoughts on the Troy Brouwer trade.
Dan McNeil: How would you characterize (Brian) Campbell’s several years in a Hawks’ uniform?
Eddie Olczyk: It’s a hard to take the cash out of it, Danny Mac. I think that Brian Campbell was very serviceable on the backend. I think, you know, the one thing he could do was skate the Blackhawks out of trouble in their own zone, which is difficult. Its tough to find a defenseman that can do that and Brian Campbell had that ability – and also lug the puck up the ice offensively. So from that aspect of it, uh, you know, he was really, when you look at his tenure here, pretty much a fifth defenseman over the course of the last three years. And it’s tough to allocate all that money to a guy that’s not gonna play really in key situations; not gonna be out there at the end of games.
Look, he helped bring a Stanley Cup here to Chicago and I think that’s the way that you have to, uh, think about him.
McNeil: You know the more I think about it, the more it aggravates me that Dale [Tallon] spent all that money on him several years ago because you’re probably right on the money when you talk about his career. It’s best summarized as being the fifth best defenseman on the team and 50 plus million dollars is a hell of a lot of money to commit to your fifth best blue liner.
Olczyk: Well, look. When the Hawks brought in Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell, I mean when you’re a team that, it certainly was on the upswing, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, because of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
You knew Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were on the verge of becoming elite defenseman. And then with the whole philosophy change with John McDonough and Jay Blunk under the umbrella of Rocky Wirtz.
Everything was changing. In order to play in good players, Danny Mac, you had to overpay them. I don’t think there’s any doubt they had to do that to start bringing people into the greatest city in the world. And things have changed, there’s no doubt about it.
But I think if you watch Brian Campbell over the course his career, I mean, his greatest asset, I talked about him, his skating ability, his ability to be able make plays offensively. Defensively very average; wasn’t gonna be out there at the end of games, wasn’t gonna kill a lot of penalties. Last year he did that because Joel needed that from him because of all the injuries and the players that have come and gone over the course of the last couple years.
But, look, when you’re in a situation when you need players and you want to change the, kind of the culture, like the Blackhawks did three or four years ago, you’re gonna have to overpay players to come to your team, or to come to your city. That isn’t the case anymore. Because, this is a destination for any player that wants to be in the greatest city in the world and play for an organization that treats their players better than anybody. And I think that is what the team has going for them, and obviously the success they’ve had in winning the Stanley Cup two years ago.
Matt Speigel: So, Troy Brouwer is gone. A very flexible, useful player for a few years and, uh, a lot fans a little upset about that. Is what he brings something they can replace easier than fans might realize or how palpably with they feel the lack of Troy Brouwer?
Olczyk: I think its an excellent trade when you take a look at what Stan Bowman and hockey operations got for Troy Brouwer. I mean Brouwer is probably a legit 18 to 22 goal scorer. A guy that’s gonna finish a lot of checks; isn’t overly fleet of foot. Is he a top six forward? Probably not.
But, I think he brings the dimension that the Hawks need. And they have cap space now, uh, to be able to do that. You’ve got some guys you need to sign. You moved the Campbell contract out. Troy Brouwer’s contract was up. You have some restricted players that need to be signed. You have some unrestricted guys. It’ll be interesting to see what does a guy like Tomas Kopecky, would the Blackhawks want to bring him back at a reasonable price. I though he had a very good season.
But Troy Brouwer brought that physical presence up front that the Blackhawks are lacking right now. I think that’s an area of concern. I think they need to get bigger. I think they need to get heavier. And there’s quite a few players out there that I believe would look beautiful in a Blackhawks jersey that play that particular role. So, it’s a missing void but when you look at the philosophy of what’s gone on, I think it opens up some space and now you’re gonna need some players to fill that void. Not only offensively, from Troy Brouwer, but probably more importantly that physical presence of a guy that would make teams pay the price when they’re playing the Blackhawks.
McNeil said replacing a guy like Brouwer would be nice, but more importantly, McNeil suggested, is acquiring a guy to fill the hole on the second defense pairing. (I thought these guys just declared Campbell as a third pair guy?)
Eddie Olczyk: I agree with you, Danny Mac. When we talked, I guess it was a couple of week ago, you talked about needs. To me, I don’t think there’s any doubt – a center icemen between Jonathan Toews and Davey Bolland. But I agree with you. I think they definitely need to get a physical presence, a heaviness, on that back end. And yes, I mean, Kevin Bieksa is in play with a lot of teams. He is coveted by a lot of teams and it’s gonna cost a lot of cash, but the Blackhawks have that.
(he rambled on about buy outs and options leading into July 1st… )
But, to answer your question long-winded – Absolutely, I think (Bieksa) would look outstanding on the back end because he does bring that nastiness. And you gotta look at the way the team is built. And you look at the dynamics. Let’s look at the top four right now. You have Brent Seabrook who is the most physical defenseman back there. You have Duncan Keith, you have Nick Leddy and you have Niklas Hjalmarsson. I think you need somebody like that (Bieksa). But again, you know, there’s only so many guys like that and there are a lot of teams that are going to be vying for that type of player.
When asked about the Hawks pursuing potential UFA’s on Friday, mentioning Ed Jovanovski specifically, Olczyk responded. “At a right number” “I think he’d be real serviceable as a 5 or a 6.” He said he’d bring Jovanovski in, if the numbers are at 2 years, 3 mil range per. But he also said the more pressing was need on blue line was a guy to fill 22-24 minute gap. Hey, there’s that Brian Campbell spot again.