Rick Jeanneret: A Voice that Echoed Through Generations

Legendary Buffalo Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret.

The ice rinks of Buffalo may have felt a little quieter last Thursday as news broke of the demise of Rick Jeanneret, the commentator who encapsulated the essence of the Buffalo Sabres for over five decades.

Early Days with the Sabres

Known affectionately within the hockey community as “RJ,” Jeanneret’s journey with the Sabres began in 1971. His voice, an unmistakable signature of Buffalo’s hockey tapestry, first graced the airwaves on October 10 of that year.

Jeanneret’s Remarkable Journey:

1971Initiated his career with Sabres on radio
1995Transitioned to television broadcasts
2012Honored with the Foster Hewitt Award, Hockey Hall of Fame
2022Announced his final game, marking his legacy

While he began his illustrious career on radio, by 1995 he had seamlessly transitioned into television broadcasts. The dedication and love for his craft never waned and in 2012 he was bestowed with the Foster Hewitt Award and subsequently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His immense contribution didn’t end there. Rick also found his name etched into the Sabres Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and even the Sports Wall of Fame in Terrace Bay, Ontario.

“Rick Jeanneret’s unmistakable voice was the signature sound of Buffalo Sabres hockey for half a century. He brought the essence of our game into the homes of Western New Yorkers with passion and excitement.” – NHL Statement

The Phrases that Became Legends

Jeanneret had a knack for capturing moments, not just with accuracy, but with unparalleled flair. Phrases like:

  • “May Day”
  • “Scary good”
  • “Top shelf where Mama hides the cookies”

These weren’t just mere words, but symbols that resonated deeply with Sabres fans, imprinting indelible memories for generations.

Tributes Pour In

The news of Jeanneret’s passing rippled through the hockey community, evoking a wave of tributes and heartfelt messages. From fellow broadcasters to former players, and even fans, many felt the weight of the loss of such an iconic figure.

Former Sabres players recounted how Jeanneret’s voice immortalized some of their career-defining moments. The jubilance and sheer thrill he brought to the microphone made every goal, every save, and every play feel monumental.

Broadcasting colleagues from across the NHL landscape shared sentiments, reflecting on Jeanneret’s unmatched dedication to the sport. His name often came up in discussions about the gold standard of hockey commentary. His passion, insight, and unmistakable voice set him apart, making him an idol for many aspiring commentators.

Many fans, even those from generations that had never seen a game live, felt a deep connection to Jeanneret. For them, he was more than just a voice on the radio or television; he was an integral part of their game day experience. Through highs and lows, Jeanneret’s narrations became the soundtrack to countless memories for families and friends gathered around screens.

The collective sentiment was clear: the world of hockey had lost not just an iconic voice but a legendary figure who had, over the decades, become synonymous with the very spirit of the game.

Rick Jeanneret, who served as the Sabres' play-by-play voice for five decades.

In the Words of Those Who Knew Him

Phil Housley, a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman, encapsulated the sentiments of many when he reflected on his experiences with Jeanneret:

“I am deeply saddened by one of the greatest @BuffaloSabres broadcasters & my good friend, Rick Jeanneret.” – Phil Housley

Such memories were not limited to just players. Fans and fellow Sabres too had their tales to tell. Jeanneret, due to his unparalleled contribution, was one of the exclusive eleven individuals honored with a banner at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Among other luminaries were figures like Gilbert Perreault, Tim Horton, Dominik Hasek, and Ryan Miller.

The night the banner was hoisted, in a touching gesture, the Sabres, after their win against the Nashville Predators, invited Jeanneret to join them on the ice and later in the locker room, symbolizing the bond he shared with both players and fans alike.

Alex Tuch, a Sabres forward, recalled the event, emphasizing the profound influence Jeanneret had on his own passion for hockey:

“It was a surreal experience. Seeing a figure who had played such a pivotal role in my love for the game being honored was heartwarming. The respect and affection everyone showered upon him was simply phenomenal.”

A Voice that Resonated Beyond Buffalo

Several personalities outside Buffalo acknowledged the deep impact of Rick’s work. Patrick Kane, the three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks and a Buffalo native, paid his tributes:

“He was instrumental in my love for the Sabres. A heartfelt goodbye to Rick.”

Another touching tribute came from Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager, Daniel Briere:

“The NHL, Buffalo, and the Sabres family has lost a true gem. My heart carries fond memories with Rick, especially his unforgettable commentary that has a special place in my heart.”

Legacy Left Behind

Rick Jeanneret’s absence leaves behind an irreplaceable void, not just in commentary boxes or in the echoing chambers of stadiums but in the hearts of countless fans, players, and every individual he touched.

Survived by his wife, Sandra, his children Mark, Chris, Shelly, and several grandchildren, Rick’s memories will continue to resonate for generations.

In the words of Sabres owner Terry Pegula,

“Rick’s influence transcended the commentary box. His legacy will remain alive, not just in our memories but in the heartbeats of countless games and moments he captured so vividly.”

Rick Jeanneret’s legacy is an ode to passion, dedication, and an unyielding love for the sport and the community he served.

Hockey Expert
reviewed by: Jeremy Karamen (Hockey Expert)

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