TAMPA — After 21 years in the broadcast booth, Bobby “The Chief’’ Taylor will step aside from the color commentator role with the Tampa Bay Lightning following this season, though he will remain with the team as an analyst.
Taylor, 69, made his decision known on Wednesday.
The Lightning will immediately begin a search to find Taylor’s replacement to work alongside play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham, who has served in that role since 1995-96.
A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Philadelphia Flyers, Taylor made the transition from a playing career as a goaltender to the broadcast booth with the Flyers in 1977. He joined the Lightning in 1993-94, the second year of the franchise.
“When you are in the booth, it’s probably the closest thing there is to being a player because you have that passion for winning and losing,’’ he said. “I really get into the games.’’
But Taylor is leaving only the booth and will remain a part of the Sun Sports broadcast team as an analyst on the pre- and post-game shows as well as intermission segments starting in the 2015-16 season. He might also see time between the benches for home games.
“I’m still going to have the passion and everything, but I don’t know if it will be to the extent you do during the game because from start to finish you are into that game,’’ Taylor said.
“You are happy as heck when they are winning and ticked off when they are losing or not playing like you think they should. I really get into it, and that might be a little bit different for me from being in the booth ... not having the same feel like you are in the game yourself.’’
Taylor’s decision to step away from the booth stems from his wanting to cut down on travel and spend more time at home with his wife, Jan. He started discussions with Lightning management over the summer.
In his new role, Taylor hopes to utilize the telestrator, which he used for many years during intermissions to highlight intricacies of the game that often go unnoticed.
But Taylor’s departure breaks up one of the longest running broadcast tandems in the league, as Taylor and Peckham have shown rare chemistry for nearly two decades.
“It is coming to an end and it’s not, because he is still going to be on the broadcasts — he’ll still have a role every night, he just won’t be sitting next to me and I won’t be next to him,’’ Peckham said.
“It’s going to be very, very different. ...It’s a total different dynamic when somebody doesn’t anticipate what you are going to do, when to come in and when to come out, the tone to take and as the game is going what you are thinking.’’