Olczyk excited about Winnipeg homecoming

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:56 AM ET

WINNIPEG - You can count Eddie Olczyk among the former Winnipeg Jets who are excited about the NHL homecoming.

Olczyk, now a broadcaster with the Chicago Blackhawks and Versus/NBC, always had fond memories from his time in Winnipeg and was ecstatic to hear the official news that True North had purchased the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday.

"My (phone) was blowing up. I had about 15 texts, a few emails and 17 missed calls in a matter of a couple hours in the morning -- I figured something really good or really bad was happening," Olczyk said from Vancouver, where he was broadcasting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. "I was in my hotel room in Vancouver and watched all the local and national news. It brought back many a memory of spending almost six years as a citizen of the city of Winnipeg. With our children living there and my wife and I becoming entrenched in the community. A lot of things come through. It was really a merry-go-around of thoughts. I couldn't be happier for the city and for Mark (Chipman) and Mr. (David) Thomson. The professionalism showed by Mark and his group went a long way toward getting this done. Doing it the right way certainly paid off.

"I always felt that Winnipeg was a National Hockey League city and always hoped against hope that something was going to happen. (Tuesday) was certainly a day to reflect as my time as a proud member of the Jets family."

When the Jets departed the city back in 1996, Olczyk gave a passionate speech to fans, stating he was planning to bring the Stanley Cup back to Winnipeg if the Phoenix Coyotes ever won it.

"I've seen and heard that clip many a time since that farewell and I'm sorry I couldn't fulfill that promise," said Olczyk. "But I'm glad the team is coming back and that the NHL is coming back, whether it's the Jets or the Moose or whatever."

Olczyk was at the MTS Centre in September as the Blackhawks took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in an NHL preseason game, but he's stoked to come back and call a game that involves Winnipeg's own NHL team.

"I got a chance to be there and whatever but obviously it will be much, much different now," said Olczyk. "It'll be nice to go back to a place where my family and I called home many a year. I'm really happy and really excited about the chance to get in there. I look forward to it."

Olczyk also put his analyst's hat on and talked about the potential on the Thrashers' roster that Winnipeg is inheriting.

"The team has some strong building blocks," said Olczyk. "They have strength in goal, a good defensive core. There's a strong foundation here to give themselves a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, first and foremost. Once you give yourself that chance, anything is possible.

"It's a team that has some really good character and some strengths in areas but there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of the weaknesses that they have."


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