The Lightning’s new play-by-play announcer will make his debut in Tampa Bay on Friday as the team closes out the second half of its series against the Blackhawks.
Dave Randorf replaces retired Hall of Fame broadcaster Rick Peckham on the call. Randorf, 53, boasts 30 years of experience in the industry, including stints at TSN and SportsNet.
Here are excerpts, edited for clarity, from his recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times:
What is the favorite call of your career?
”This is a hard question because I’ve been around so many cool moments and cool goals. ... I’m doing this game, and it is the Islanders and the Florida Panthers, and it’s Game 6 (of the 2016 playoffs), and the Islanders have a chance to win a playoff series for the first time since, I want to say, 1993. ... And this is a once proud franchise, well it was a dynasty. They won four straight Stanley Cups but they had fallen on hard times. So they of course moved to Brooklyn, and it wasn’t overly popular with all the Long Island Islander fans. But on this night, all the old school Islander fans were there. They’re all wearing their old school Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier jerseys and Butch Goring, and you could cut the tension with a knife in there because they’ve been waiting so long for this moment. They wanted no part of Game 7 in Florida. ...
“As a play-by-play guy, you don’t plan what you’re going to say but you want to make sure you have something in your back pocket to say for such a big moment like this. And I can’t think of that one line that I could say if the Islanders win it because I’m just focused on calling the game. So it goes into overtime and then it goes into a second overtime, and in the intermission between the first and second, I had to use the men’s room. Where you call the game in the Barclays Center, you’re actually in the crowd. You’re in the seat, there’s no press box, it’s a basketball arena. So you have to walk through the crowd into the concourse and go to the men’s room.
“I get into the men’s room and there’s some guy who’s like 250 pounds wearing this Clark Gillies jersey that is way too small for him and I’m the only guy in there with a suit on and he goes, “Hey, buddy. It’s really tense and everything here, isn’t it?” And I said, “Yeah it sure is.” And he said, “I tell you right now, if (John) Tavares scores tonight, it is going to be freaking bedlam in here.” And I looked at him and I said, “That’s it!” I ran back, wrote down ‘Bedlam in Brooklyn’ and then, I don’t know, about six or seven minutes later Tavares scored and I shouted ‘Bedlam in Brooklyn!’ I’ll never forget that.”
Have you been to Amalie Arena before to call a game?
“The very first game I called here was in 2003 (for TSN), it was a playoff game (Game 5) in that first round against the Washington Capitals, the first time I’d ever been to Tampa. I was just blown away by the whole experience. It was surprising to me. I knew that the fans liked hockey out here, but I guess I really wasn’t expecting what I saw, which was great atmosphere, a good team and a lively building. ... I’ve come back many times since, but the atmosphere and the fan following has just gotten stronger, so it’s cool what the Tampa Bay Lightning have built here in this community. It’s special. They got it right down here for a game night experience.”
What’s your favorite arena to call a game out of?
“I can give a top three or four, but I’m not gonna lie to you, Tampa has always been on my short list. And that’s because the fans are so great here. The fans create an atmosphere in this building on a nightly basis where it’s packed, it’s loud, it’s proud, it’s passionate. The team is generally always pretty entertaining. So it’s a fun building to see a game in.
“Montreal is very special. There’s so much history in Montreal with all the Stanley Cup banners hanging and it’s always cold on a hockey night in Montreal in the winter. You just get in that mode of going to a hockey game. But I think the mystique of the building and all the history and the greats who have been there before, like (former defenseman/current broadcaster) Brian Engblom. It’s a very special place. ...
“Madison Square Garden is Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world and that’s always exciting. I got to call a Game 7 overtime winner (the second round in 2015 where Derek Stepan scored to beat the Capitals) there that I’ll never ever forget that’s cool.
“Chicago is fun because it’s usually very loud. The anthem itself is worth the price of admission. And of course, I’m from Vancouver, so I’ve always got a soft spot for calling a game in Vancouver because I’m proud to go back and call an NHL game where I grew up.”
What is on your Tampa Bay/Florida bucket list?
“I want to see a big-time college football game. I’ve never been. I love football and I’ve been to some NFL games and I’ve been to, obviously, Canadian Football League games, I covered that league for many years. But I want to go see the Florida Gators play. I want to see Florida-Florida State. How about that?”
Tampa Bay is home to quite a few breweries. What are your favorite go-to beers?
“I’m comfortable admitting I’m a beer snob. I’m not going to be politically correct or diplomatic, I’m a beer snob. I like an IPA and a pale ale, I definitely like that. I like a pilsner. So those are the three starting points, in that order. Sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious I’ll go double IPA. It sounds like there’s a pretty good craft brew industry here in Tampa, and I look forward to hitting those places for sure. If you like craft beer, you’ll probably see me hanging around one.”
Do you have a personal warm-up playlist before you call a game?
“I don’t have one set playlist. I like lots of music, but I do like rock. I love U2. I really like Eric Church and I really like Chris Stapleton, and down here I know Kenny Chesney is big, I love Kenny Chesney’s stuff. I sing along in the shower when I’m getting ready.
“I’m a U2 nerd. I’ve seen them live in Dublin (in 2017 for the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree album). You know what, I’m not going to be overly original here, but if you go see U2 live, and when you hear them play Where the Streets Have No Name, it still blows me away.”