A Chicago native who grew up cheering on the Blackhawks, Eddie Olczyk's status as hometown hero was both a blessing and a curse.
Olczyk, along with another young American prodigy named Al Iafrate, crossed the border and played junior B hockey in Stratford, Ontario. He would not pursue junior hockey any further, instead focusing on making the 1984 US Olympic team. At the age of 17 he was the youngest American in Sarajevo. A center throughout his youth, he switched to play left wing on the "Diaper Line" with fellow American youngsters Pat LaFontaine and David A. Jensen. In six Olympic games he scored 9 points.
The Chicago Blackhawks made the local boy their first pick, third overall in the 1984 draft, directly behind Mario Lemieux and Kirk Muller, and ahead of the likes of Shayne Corson, Gary Roberts and Iafrate. The Hawks actually had to trade up from the 6th spot, offering Los Angeles goalie Bob Janecyk to swap picks. The Hawks then had to give New Jersey future considerations in order to assure the Devils would not take the native of Palos Heights, Illinois.
The hometown hero was an instant hit in Chicago.
"In my first game, I scored a goal and the fans started chanting my name like they used to for Tony Esposito. I'd never felt better in my whole life."
Here's the full Eddie Olczyk story.