Jim O'Donnell: Olczyk sends unmistakable message to the Blackhawks with his departure

EDDIE OLCZYK IS FAR TOO gracious a man to taunt beleaguered Blackhawks executive poseurs.

But if he's been humming Johnny Paycheck's old country classic “Take This Job and Shove it” in recent days, what are they going to do?

Olczyk's stunning decision to bolt the Hawks for the Seattle Kraken rocked West Madison Street like nothing since the walls of Chicago Stadium came tumblin' down.

In Seattle, Olczyk will be reunited with occasional TNT platform mate John Forslund on ROOT Sports Northwest and younger brother Rick Olczyk, an assistant GM of the Kraken.

The root cause of Olczyk's departure is said to be a stalemate in negotiations over a new deal.

Blackhawks chess munchkins reportedly wanted Olczyk to sign for a higher per-game rate but not be paid for the full 82-game schedule.

BECAUSE OF HIS EXTRAORDINARY broadcast talent, Olczyk has had to periodically cut out for both TNT assignments and even thoroughbred racing appearances on NBC.

Hawks bosses apparently thought it was time to get clever.

For chairman Rocky Wirtz, rocked gosling Danny Wirtz and careening president of business ops Jaime Faulkner, it was very bad timing and even worse management thinking.

They failed to factor in how much Olczyk has seen and processed regarding the franchise in the last seven years (2015-22).

In that span, the Chicago-area native has watched the Blackhawks go from a three-time Stanley Cup champion to one of the most embarrassing and implosive franchises in the NHL.

He's also silently witnessed some very respected colleagues — from Joel Quenneville on up and down — get thrown under grossly career-altering skates as the team's bizarre sex scandal played out.

HIS DEPARTURE SIGNALS an unmistakable message from one of the organization's greatest contemporary icons to its entitled slash crew in the front office:

“You took a very good thing and turned it into swill. Your methods are also incredibly mean-spirited. Go sail your yacht and count your family's money. Find your ‘hipper, younger' audience.

“I have options and will no longer toady to your debasing culture.

“I'm going to Seattle.”

AS A BOMBARDIER, Olczyk scored a devastating hit.

As the ultimate faithful, noble warrior, he and his spirit have left the building.

Somewhere, old Arthur Wirtz — beyond The Final Horn since 1983 — has to be looking on and wondering:

Can't I have one generation that gets this hockey thing right?

STREET-BEATIN': Charles Barkley told Dan Patrick he fully expects to have to leave TNT if he accepts the Saudi money to become part of their pricey new LIV golf TV talent lineup. It's kind of like hearing that Dave Chappelle might never again work in English. ...

Already on the tee for bubbling crude, career irreverent David Feherty is departing NBC and its Golf Channel for an LIV broadcast roost. Interesting to see how his 720 degrees of Orange Irish cheekiness plays in Riyadh. ...

Yet another rough Nielsen Audio book in June for both of Chicago's sports talkers. Tedious WSCR-AM (670) was No. 22 in the market while slumbering WMVP-AM (1000) limped in at No. 25. Huge win for No. 1 WDRV-FM (97.1) in Bob Stroud's final full-time month with a station-record 6.8 all-ages. ...

The emergence of Jon Heyman of the N.Y. Post as an ersatz conduit to Jerry Reinsdorf is making old Sun-Timesmen chuckle. During the paper's last golden age (1997-2002), Heyman sniffed around a baseball opening and informed swirl was that one of his sterling references was — Jerry Reinsdorf. ...

With 2023 dates applications due next week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker isn't exactly prioritizing the Illinois Racing Board. Four of eleven seats are vacant. (Insouciants need not apply.) ...

Greg Greenwell has exited DePaul athletics after a long run in media relations. Radio play-by-play man Zach Zaidman has no bigger fan. ...

Maybe Mayor Lori Lightfoot can put her $1B dome over that 2.2-mile NASCAR course in downtown Chicago. Although, live video of the Byrne Interchange around midnight could make for more dramatic TV. ...

And Dan Rautenberg, on those reports Wednesday that researchers at MIT have picked up radio signals from “a far-off galaxy”: “It's got to be Coppock or Grobstein.”

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at

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