The Blackhawks are dismantling the merry-go-round of announcers that incensed fans last season. They’ll keep it simple this season, the first without Pat Foley or Eddie Olczyk since 1979-80.
Joining new play-by-play voice Chris Vosters in the NBC Sports Chicago booth will be Troy Murray and Patrick Sharp, who will split the analyst duties. John Wiedeman will return to the WGN radio booth and work with Murray or Caley Chelios.
Analyst Colby Cohen occasionally will join the TV broadcast between the benches. When he’s not there, he’ll be in the studio with host Pat Boyle. Chelios and a rotating cast of Hawks alumni also will appear.
‘‘We heard our fans loud and clear,’’ said Jaime Faulkner, the Hawks’ president of business operations. ‘‘We’ve been listening to them and talking to them this summer about a number of things, the broadcasts included, and I hope that they will feel that we’ve heard them in not only who we’ve chosen but in having a consistent, trustworthy group that they can rely on to talk about Blackhawks hockey.’’
Last season, the Hawks auditioned a number of play-by-play voices to replace the retiring Foley. They announced Vosters as the winner in April. Olczyk’s departure last month for the Kraken’s booth opened the analyst’s chair.
Sharp, who was a fan favorite on the Hawks’ Stanley Cup winners in 2010, 2013 and 2015, has had limited experience calling games. He mostly has been a studio analyst for the Hawks and former NHL rights holder NBC. He won’t be moving back to Chicago after relocating with his family to Connecticut.
‘‘That shouldn’t stop his ability to partner with us,’’ Faulkner said. ‘‘We’re committed to making it a great experience not only for him but for his family. And I think we’ve worked out something that is going to be great for everybody.’’
Murray, who played for the Hawks in 1981-91 and 1992-94, has been a part of the team’s radio or TV broadcasts since 1998. He has partnered with Wiedeman since 2006, and they’ve earned the adoration of fans. Murray was diagnosed with cancer in August 2021 but appears ready to take on a full schedule.
Hawks alumni will give the studio shows a viewpoint they lacked last season with Chelios and Cohen. It was the first season the team took control of hiring announcers and analysts, and it wasn’t well-received. NBCSCH suggested changes, which led to adding the former players, who will be announced later.
‘‘We overall have a goal to bring more of our alumni back,’’ Faulkner said. ‘‘One of the reasons we’re bringing them back into the studio is because of their perspective on Blackhawks hockey, the history, playing for this club. So we need their voice in the studio to help round it out.’’
Faulkner also said the Hawks will introduce broadcast elements that are important to fans, such as updates on the prospects with Rockford and the development of the draft classes.
‘‘We’re also going to try to help our fans get to know our players off the ice,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re going to try to make it more entertaining, but I think we want to be really transparent about how we’re doing [it].’’
The complete broadcast schedule will be released after the Hawks receive the NHL’s national TV schedule.