TAMPA — After working remotely from Chicago for the past year and a half, Caley Chelios has resigned from her position as the Lightning’s digital reporter and road radio color commentator to spend more time with her growing family as a full-time mom.
Chelios, who is eight months pregnant with her second child, said the COVID-19 pandemic gave her new perspective as she enjoyed more time at home with her husband, former NFL player Danny Vitale, and their daughter, Bella, who was born shortly after the NHL stopped play last spring.
“I think I had a vision of what I could do (work-wise), but it wasn’t until after I really had Bella and I saw another side of myself just being a mom for the first time, and how much I loved it,” Chelios said. “I realized I really want to be home while they’re little and young.”
Chelios, the daughter of Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Chelios, was a mainstay on the Lightning’s “Morning Skate Show,” often working with reporter Bryan Burns and radio play-by-play announcer Dave Mishkin.
But since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, she had been working from Chicago, mostly in a Zoom video conference-based environment.
This past March, Chelios covered the National Women’s Hockey League’s Isobel Cup playoffs in Boston as a rinkside reporter, joining play-by-play announcer Kate Scott and analyst AJ Mleczko on NBCSN’s all-female broadcast team. She called working with the two “incredibly talented and influential women” a career highlight.
Returning to Amalie Arena in July — with a new baby bump — to celebrate the Lightning’s second straight Stanley Cup championship was a bittersweet experience for her.
“To see all the faces of my family with Tampa Bay, the players and coaches at their most excited celebrating a championship together, I felt like I was a part of it even though I was in Chicago,” she said.
“I knew it would probably be the last time I saw a lot of those people for quite some time, depending on where I end up in the hockey world next ... but it was also one of the best nights of my career.”
Chelios married Vitale, a former Packers, Browns and Patriots fullback who was originally drafted by the Bucs, in the summer of 2019. Vitale retired from the NFL after five seasons this summer.
In a letter to Lightning fans posted on NHL.com, Chelios wrote that her parents recently bought a house down the street from where she and Vitale live, allowing them to become full-time grandparents.
Though the idea of returning to hockey is on the bench for now, Chelios said she is hoping circumstances allow her to return to the sport in the future.
“It’s always kind of felt like (a family there), but now after being there for five seasons, it really felt like that,” Chelios said. “It was bittersweet, because I didn’t know that I’d ever find that kind of camaraderie again working for another organization or even just staying in the NHL, because it’s pretty unique when you work for one team.”
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