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Bobby 'The Chief' Taylor to switch roles on Lightning TV

Bobby "The Chief" Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Bobby "The Chief" Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Dec. 10, 2014

TAMPA — The end of an era is coming.

Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who has been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, is walking away from the booth. Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts.

But Taylor isn't going away completely. He is expected to still appear on Lightning broadcasts during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as intermissions. The idea of switching roles first came up over the summer and Taylor made the decision this week to move to a spot where he can do more teaching with the Telestrator and analysis.

"I'm really not getting a whole lot of teaching done (during the broadcast)," Taylor said. "I love to show the little idiosyncrasies of the game. We don't really do that anymore. ... With the way the game goes now, you don't get a lot of time to talk and really get to do anything."

The idea came up that Taylor could do more of that during the intermissions instead of during the action.

"I thought maybe that would be kind of cool," Taylor said.

The Lightning and Taylor both insist that the move was Taylor's decision.

Taylor, who turns 70 in January, also said that he was growing weary of the travel and wanted to be at home more with his wife of two years, Jan.

"The road was starting to get a little old," Taylor said. "I've been traveling since I was 15. ... The road isn't as good now as it used to be."

A search for Taylor's replacement has not yet begun.

This is Taylor's 42nd season in the NHL as a player and broadcaster. He entered the league in 1971-72 as a goalie with the Philadelphia Flyers. A part of the Flyers' famed Broad Street Bullies Stanley Cup champions in the mid-1970s, Taylor also spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Something of a cult hero in Philadelphia, Taylor retired and immediately joined the Flyers broadcast team. He did Flyers games on television and radio from 1977 to 1992 before joining the Lightning in 1993. He worked with play-by-play announcer John Kelly for three seasons before Kelly moved to Colorado and was replaced by Rick Peckham, who has been Taylor's partner since the 1995-96 season. The two form one of the longest active television tandems in the league.

"The average fan, the ardent fan, the avid fan is attracted to Chief because of the passion he brought every single night and still does," Peckham said. "He has still got that passion. It has never wavered through the whole time."

Taylor said he is looking forward to his new gig, but there is one thing he will definitely miss about being in the booth during the action.

"Yeah," Taylor said with a grin, "yelling at the referees."

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