FOX’s Sun Sports announced today broadcasting veteran Brian Engblom will serve as color analyst for all Tampa Bay Lightning television broadcasts for the 2015-16 season. Since 2011, Engblom was the “Inside the Glass” analyst for both NBC and NBC Sports Network, and the Winnipeg native has over 20 years of experience in the business. Previously, he has worked as the color analyst for Winnipeg Jets games on TSN in Canada as well as for the Columbus Blue Jackets on FOX Sports Ohio. Engblom’s broadcasting career follows a stellar, 11-season NHL playing career. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1975 and won three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (1977, 78, 79) before moving on to Washington, Los Angeles, Buffalo and Calgary. Engblom took time today to chat with TampaBayLightning.com about what made the Lightning job an attractive one, his ties to the Tampa Bay area and moving away from his precarious perch between the benches.
What was it about FOX’s Sun Sports and the Tampa Bay Lightning organization that enticed you to make the transition to the Sunshine State?
“First of all, I’m thrilled to be going to the organization. It’s one of the top organizations in the league ever since Mr. Vinik took over as owner of the team and Steve Yzerman became the GM. The results speak for themselves. They’ve been simply an outstanding team. You don’t get to the Stanley Cup Final by chance. The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in sports to win, and the Lightning were two wins away. The respect that the Lightning have around the NHL is outstanding. For me to get back and be connected to a team again was really important to me. I’ve missed that. Most of my 20-plus years in television have been at the national level, so you don’t get that daily interaction with one team. I’m still a player at heart. I’ve been on teams since I was four years old, so to get back into that team environment is something that I’m really looking forward to. “
The Lightning are one of the premier teams in the league having advanced to the Stanley Cup Final last season while virtually the entire team returns for the upcoming season. Did that bright future play a role in your decision to join Sun Sports and the Lightning?
“It’s a great added plus for sure. The team is spectacular as it is right now. They have some terrific young talent. The young talent is the core and carried the team to the Cup Final. It speaks to the level of talent and the management that put the team together. I’m jumping into a team that’s one of the tops in the league. To be able to watch a team that should be good now and in the future should make for a lot of fun.”
You famously took a puck to the forehead during a game at Pittsburgh this season and needed stitches to repair the gash before returning to your ice-level position later in the game. Besides a safer work environment, what advantages are there to being up high in the booth rather than between the benches for game?
“I don’t know that I’ll necessarily be up in the booth for every game. I’ve had some preliminary talks with some of the FOX people, and I told them how good I think it is being at ice level. I know they’re interested in that. How often it can happen, I don’t know. I don’t know where that’s going. I think they’re probably still thinking about it. But, it’s a different perspective. I’ve done way more years up in the booth than I have at ice level in my career. But ice level provides a tremendous advantage, especially when you have Rick up in the booth with his experience providing a detailed description from the above-ice perspective. But from down low, I can see what the players see. I don’t know how that’s all going to work out, but whatever it is, I’ll do the game from wherever they need me.”
You’ll be teamed with longtime Lightning play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham during broadcasts. Have you announced games with Rick before and how do you feel the two of you will work together?
“I had the pleasure of working with Rick Peckham a couple of times. As a matter of fact, the first game that I did between the glass was a game in Tampa where Rick was the play-by-play announcer. Rick is very easy to work with and a terrific professional with a lot of experience. There were no issues at all with us working together. The partnership was seamless. He’s very good with what he does. It’s my job to fit in with him. I know that going in, so that’s a good feeling for me and hopefully for him too. Speaking of that first game, it’s kind of funny, there’s a certain amount of karma I guess you can call it with Tampa. I started in broadcasting doing radio for the Los Angeles Kings, and while I was there, I get a call asking if I want to audition to do games for ESPN2. 1993 was the first year for ESPN2. The very first game I ever did for them was when Wayne Gretzky faced his brother Brent in Tampa. So I guess you could say things have come full circle for me in Tampa.”
When you think of Tampa and the Tampa Bay area, what comes to mind?
“I don’t have a lot of experience in Tampa. I haven’t spent any vacation time there. All I know is what I see on the professional side. It’s obviously a terrific city. I have a decent feel for downtown and going to and from the airport. I’ve always enjoyed my trips to Tampa. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy going to Tampa in the middle of the winter. It’s always been one of the best road trips in the NHL. Now, I’ll get to enjoy it full time, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.”