On Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks finally provided an answer to one of the biggest questions the team has faced off the ice this offseason. They announced former players Troy Murray and Patrick Sharp as their new TV color analysts entering 2022-23, as they’ll share the duties and work alongside TV play-by-play announcer Chris Vosters. Both Murray and Sharp will replace Eddie Olczyk, who unexpectedly left Chicago in July after 16 seasons in the booth.
Related: Blackhawks Have a Logical Fit for TV Analyst in Patrick Sharp
In an offseason marked by change and uncertainty, the Blackhawks got this one right. There aren’t many people who can fill Olczyk’s shoes, but Murray and Sharp are fan favorites and might be two of the closest things. Though Chicago broadcasts will sound different this season with Olczyk and former TV voice Pat Foley gone, there will at least be a few familiar faces around.
Murray & Sharp Will Bring a Veteran Presence
While Murray and Sharp might be entering their first season on Blackhawks TV broadcasts full-time, they aren’t new faces to Blackhawks fans. Murray has been with the club as a broadcaster since 1998, as he worked on both TV and radio broadcasts until 2006. Entering 2006-07, Murray teamed up with longtime radio voice John Wiedeman as the club’s radio duo. They have been there since and were on the call for Chicago’s three Stanley Cups in the 2010s.
In summer 2021, Murray was diagnosed with cancer, causing him to miss a significant portion of the 2021-22 schedule. However, per Scott Powers of The Athletic, he is effectively recovering and is expected to work most of this season (from ‘Patrick Sharp, Troy Murray to replace Eddie Olczyk in Blackhawks TV booth,’ 08/25/22, The Athletic). For Chicago fans, as cool as it might be to see Murray make the move to TV and work with Vosters, it’s even better news to see he’s healthy entering the season and can take on the job.
Sharp, on the other hand, got into broadcasting immediately after retiring from hockey in 2018. He worked as a studio analyst for the NHL on NBC from 2018-21 and has also appeared on a handful of Blackhawks local broadcasts over the years, too. While he did appear a little reserved during his early days on the air, he slowly began to develop his personality. As a broadcaster, he might not have the same energy as Olczyk or even Murray, but he will likely appeal to a younger audience as a “One Goal” era player and someone who recently retired.
The great thing about this move is Murray and Sharp both have the credibility to take on this role. Both should also work well with Vosters, who is still relatively new to calling NHL games, given their experience playing and broadcasting. Murray should serve as an especially good mentor for him as someone who is a veteran broadcaster and shares many traits with Olczyk.
Both Alumni Are Fan Favorites
There are other candidates the Blackhawks could’ve chosen for this role, even names with no connection to the team. However, they played it safe, which was the right decision. After the carousel of broadcasters the team used in 2021-22, which was mainly based on finding Foley’s replacement, this is a breath of fresh air. Both names are fan favorites, which is important entering a rebuild.
Now, it’s important to note that no matter who the Blackhawks would’ve chosen for this job, ratings were going to be down. Simply put, they’re preparing for one of their worst seasons in franchise history. It seems as if the club would sure like the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, and it would not be surprising to see Patrick Kane and/or Jonathan Toews off the roster next offseason.
The rebuild could easily become a failure just as much as it could become a success, but having a pair of recognizable faces should help ease some of the pain fans will likely face this year. Both Murray and Sharp are as connected to the team as anyone.
Related: Blackhawks Smart to Sign Athanasiou & Domi as Rebuild Begins
As bad as things might seem for the Blackhawks, they are an Original Six franchise and still have one of the NHL’s largest fanbases. With due respect to some of the league’s newest franchises, hiring a no-name for the full-time role would’ve been unacceptable in Chicago, one of the league’s largest media markets. The Blackhawks thankfully avoided that, though, as both Murray and Sharp are the total opposite. They are not only recognizable but also well-liked, which you’d think was a major priority for the team in replacing someone with as high of a profile as Olczyk.
All along, it seemed like Murray and Sharp were the two most logical fits to take over for Olczyk. It was just a matter of whether either would accept the job, which they both did. Fans should consider that a win.
Blackhawks Broadcasts Are in a Good Place Moving Forward
This season will mark the first time in over 40 years the Blackhawks will not have Foley or Olczyk on the call. It’ll no doubt take some time for fans to warm up to Vosters and to get used to hearing Murray and Sharp more often. That said, Chicago has a direction in the booth, and the Blackhawks have a solid roster of broadcasters.
Compared to other NHL announcers, Vosters might be young, but he is charismatic, personable, and has no shortage of energy. Wiedeman is as good as it gets when it comes to current NHL radio play-by-play voices, while Murray and Sharp will no doubt bring a sense of trust and authority from their shared role as color commentators.
Caley Chelios and Colby Cohen, two of the team’s younger analysts, might’ve never played for Chicago. However, just like Vosters, both should grow over time. Chelios is expected to fill in for Murray on the radio side when he is working TV, and just like Murray will be for Vosters, Wiedeman should serve as a great mentor for Chelios.
It’ll be intriguing to see how the Blackhawks split the duties with Murray and Sharp this season. One thing to note is Sharp is based on the east coast as opposed to Chicago, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Murray get a majority of the games, whereas Sharp appears as more of a fill-in/substitute. That hasn’t been announced yet, though. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the duo get a 50/50 split of games either or work together with Vosters as a trio.
No matter how the Blackhawks use Murray and Sharp, fans should feel pleased with the changes in the booth this season. No one will ever be able to replace Foley, nor can anyone replace Olczyk; both brought great flair to the TV broadcasts over the years and made watching Chicago games a unique experience. However, as big of a loss as losing Foley and Olczyk was for the Blackhawks, they redeemed themselves in the best way possible by hiring Murray and Sharp: two well-liked and familiar faces.