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“Don’t Be Surprised” If Eddie Olczyk is the Next Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations

Chicago Blackhawks

After Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac left the Blackhawks organization on Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks installed 33-year-old Assistant GM Kyle Davidson as the interim GM while they search for new leadership for the hockey operations department.

If you’re not familiar with Davidson, here’s a brief profile from the Blackhawks website:

Kyle Davidson enters his 11th season with the Chicago Blackhawks and first as Assistant General Manager of Hockey Administration. In his current role, Davidson assists President of Hockey Operations/General Manager Stan Bowman with day-to-day hockey operations tasks, including player contract research and negotiations, salary cap management, salary arbitration, collective bargaining agreement administration as well as scouting at the professional and amateur levels.

Davidson began his career with the Blackhawks as a Hockey Operations Intern in 2010 and was promoted to a full-time role as a Hockey Analytics/Video Analyst the next season. He was promoted again in the summer of 2011 to Hockey Administration Coordinator, elevated to Hockey Operations Manager in 2015, then to Senior Manager of Hockey Operations in 2017 before becoming Assistant to the General Manager in 2018.

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Davidson graduated from the Sports Administration program at Laurentian University in 2010. He currently resides in Chicago with his fiancé, Angelica.

I’m intrigued by Davidson, himself, as a fresh face in the Blackhawks’ GM role, and we’ll discuss him briefly later. But first, a name that surfaced on Wednesday, but really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, is that of fan-favorite Eddie Olczyk.

Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now reports that a well-placed source believes that the former player and current TV analysts could be in the running for the Blackhawks vacant President of Hockey Operations position.

“Eddie has been gunning for Stan’s job or a higher position for a while now,” a well-placed NHL source told NHN. “He’s always been tight with the Wirtz’s and has their ear already. Don’t be surprised if he’s running the show really soon.”

Murphy went on to say that Olczyk “has maintained a ‘tight relationship’ with the Wirtz’s and ‘has their ear’ when it comes to hockey. ‘Eddie O’ or ‘Edzo’ as he is affectionately known within not just the Blackhawks community, but the NHL, makes a ton of sense for a team trying to reconnect with and earn the trust back from their fans in the wake of the sex abuse scandal and missing the Stanley Cup playoffs in three of the last four seasons.”

It makes sense that Olczyk would be in the running for the position as a former player, a current TV analyst for the team, and an overall great ambassador for the franchise who happens to have a great hockey mind and a great feel for the game. Olczyk, has experience doing just about everything in the hockey world at this point. He played 16 seasons in the NHL, was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins from June 2003 to December 2005, and has been Pat Foley’s partner in the Blackhawks TV booth since the 2006-07 NHL season.

Over at The Athletic, Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers also mentioned Edzo as a candidate for the GM job in their Wednesday column about the open position.

“Is there anyone who knows and cares about the organization more than Olczyk? If so, there aren’t many. He would certainly have the fans’ ears. He has interviewed for hockey operations positions in other organizations in recent years, including Philadelphia and New Jersey, so there would likely be an interest. He might be better suited for president of hockey operations.”

I prefer Olczyk to be in the vacant president/VP of hockey operations job(s) then the GM job. However, I think that Kyle Davidson could (and should) eventually shed the interim tag and become the GM of the Blackhawks. Davidson, 33, has been with the Blackhawks for 11 years, starting as an intern at 22 years old and working his way up to Vice President of Hockey Strategy and Analytics. In addition, Davidson has spent time working in the Blackhawks front office focusing on the salary cap and pro-scouting and is highly regarded around the organization as a future GM candidate somewhere in the NHL. So, why not here?

Laz and Powers had this to say about Davidson:

“It makes sense for the Blackhawks to name Davidson as the interim general manager. He was seemingly being prepared by the Blackhawks to be a general manager someday. He’s done a little bit of everything within the organization from balancing the salary cap to scouting. He’s currently the Blackhawks vice president of hockey strategy and analytics. One league source described him Tuesday as the best internal candidate to replace Bowman as GM.”

Last night on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast, Colby Cohen raved about Davidson, complimenting his knowledge of the salary cap and his work in the pro-scouting area. Cohen applauded Davidson for being “one of the toughest evaluators” he knows when scouting. After years of living in salary cap hell and watching the Blackhawks make some head-scratching trades and signings, Davidson sounds like a breath of fresh air.

Laz and Powers spoke briefly on a bevy of other names that could be up for the job in their column, so check that out when you have a chance.

As of right now, there’s not been any discussion on a potential timeline that CEO Danny Wirtz might have in mind for filling out his hockey operations department. Still, it’s never too early to start learning about some of the faces that will probably be a part of the discussion.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.