For nearly a quarter century, Rick Peckham was the voice of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the soundtrack of hockey in the Sunshine State. His energy and charisma bred widespread appeal in the area as the franchise grew from its expansion roots into one of the league’s best.
On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame recognized Peckham’s influence on the game by naming him the 2020 recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for his outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.
Peckham’s broadcasting career started in 1977 with the Rochester Americans, where he worked both on the television and the radio side until he got his first NHL play-by-play position with the Hartford Whalers.
He also gained notoriety on national broadcasts where he was a fixture, working games for ESPN, SportsChannel America and Versus. His time in Hartford coincided with the Whalers reaching the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, while partnered with Hall of Fame netminder Gerry Cheevers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning hired Peckham in 1995 and he immediately earned praise for his style and attention to detail. Peckham paired with Bobby Taylor for 20 seasons in Tampa Bay and most recently with former ESPN analyst Brian Engblom.
His voice became synonymous with the careers of players such as Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos and was on the call for two seasons that resulted in Stanley Cup Final appearances, (2003-04 and 2014-15). In September 2019, Peckham announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2019-20 season after 42 seasons of broadcasting professionally.
Chuck Kaiton, the Hall of Fame radio voice of the Hartford Whalers and Carolina Hurricanes, and President of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association released a statement regarding Peckham’s induction and the impact he’s had in the broadcast booth.
“I have known Rick for 36 years, since his days covering the Hartford Whalers,” said Kaiton. “Rick has had a most distinguished hockey broadcasting career, which deserves to be recognized by this honour. His longevity and excellence tell the story, and passion for his profession came through each broadcast.”
The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award is an honor given by the Hockey Hall of Fame to broadcasters who had a lasting impact on the field in their respective mediums, such as radio and television. Previous winners of the award include Bob Cole in 1996, Mike Emrick in 2008 and most recently Jim Hughson.
Peckham will receive the award at the Hockey Hall of Fame, tentatively scheduled for November 16, 2020 along with Vancouver Canucks writer Tony Gallagher, who earns the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in Hockey Journalism.