TAMPA, Fla. - March 10 was the last time Rick Peckham called a Tampa Bay Lightning Broadcast. Two days later, the NHL paused the regular season indefinitely due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This created endless uncertainty, particularly whether a 2-1 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs would be the last time Lightning fans would get to hear Peckham, who is retiring, call a game.
Skip to the final week in July, and Fox Sports Sun is preparing to carry some of the Lightning's early playoff games when the league returns to action.
"[I'm] very excited about having a chance to see this team, and have a role in terms of describing it for the fans," Peckham told FOX 13 Sports.
Peckham, who has been the voice of the Lightning since 1995, will get to call the Bolts' exhibition game Wednesday against Florida, the three Round Robin games, and at least Stanley Cup Quarterfinal game. However, due to Coronavirus precaution, he won't be in the Toronto bubble with the team. Instead, he'll call his final Lightning games from an empty Amalie Arena.
People are tuning in, and seeing a live event, and it's going to have some meaning, and you've got to get the points across," Peckham said of the unique circumstances. "You can't just dip your toe in the water and say 'well there's nobody around here, and I'm just going to announce this like a golf tournament.' It's not, it's a playoff game!"
While the end is near for Peckham's broadcasting career, he wants people to know it's nowhere near the end of his time with the Tampa Bay, and Lightning community.
"I feel like I'm saying goodbye, but at the same time I'm going to be here in the arena with fans," Peckham said. "I'm gonna be around town. We're not going anywhere."
As weird, or anti-climactic as it may feel for Peckham's career to end in an empty arena, he's long since made peace with how this chapter of his life will end.
"These are weird circumstances. [They're] not optimal for anyone," Peckham said. "You've just got to accept them, deal with them, and make the best of them."