Rick Jeanneret, a longtime Sabres announcer from Canada, passes away at 81.

 (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

AUG. 18,2023 ,10:10 AM IST

Rick Jeanneret, who spent 51 years as the Buffalo Sabres’ announcer and was the 2012 Foster Hewitt Award winner for the Hockey Hall of Fame, passed away on Thursday. He was 81.

After a two-year fight with multi-organ failure, Jeanneret passed away with his family by his side, according to a statement from his family that was provided by the Sabres. The family declared in a statement that “he will be loved forever.”

And it’s safe to assume that he will always be adored by the countless people who grew up listening to him call Sabres games.

Since the second season of the organization, in 1971–72, Jeanneret, or RJ as he was more often known, has been a part of Sabres radio and television broadcasts. He resigned after the 2021–22 season. He was the NHL play-by-play announcer with the longest career.

Terry Pegula, owner of the Sabres, stated that Rick was “truly a very special and very loved man, to and by all, who knew him and listened to him, his magic, and his command.” How grateful I am to having met him. How fortunate we were to have heard him speak and to have been in his presence.

By listening to the team’s games on the radio while residing in Pittsburgh, Pegula developed a love for the Sabres and their renowned French Connection clothing line of the 1970s, in part because to Jeanneret. In February 2011, Pegula and his wife acquired the franchise.

“When I was a kid in Buffalo, Rick Jeanneret wasn’t just the Sabres’ voice; he was the voice of our entire city. He encouraged my passion for hockey, said Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams.

Adams continued, “Rick was a wonderful man who was loved by many. “We are all lucky to have known him. His wit and humor were unmatched.”

Despite being retired, Jeanneret made the trip from his home in neighboring Niagara Falls, Ontario, to watch the Sabres play last season.

When a Sabres player scored by roofing a shot high into the net, Jeanneret was famed for saying, “Top shelf, where mama hides the cookies.” He also had other characteristic phrases.

 

In the first round of the 1993 playoffs, one of his most memorable cries was “May Day! May Day!” after Brad May scored the game-winning goal in a 6-5 overtime victory to seal a four-game series sweep of Boston. Buffalo also won its first postseason series in ten years with this victory.

His other well-known yells included “La-la-la-la-Fontaine!” which would immediately follow each goal scored in the 1990s by former Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine. Additionally, he made the “Now do you believe?” remark during the 2006 postseason, when the Sabres were on their way to the Eastern Conference final.

In 2012, he received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame, the NHL’s top broadcasting accolade.

During his final season, the Sabres paid tribute to Jeanneret by hoisting a banner in his honor to the rafters of the arena. He joins brothers Seymour and Northrup Knox, the team founders, as the third non-player among the 11 individuals the team has recognized.JIO

Throughout the ceremony and amid a sold-out audience yelling “RJ! RJ! RJ!” Jeanneret tried his best to control his emotions.

“When I was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame ten years ago, I recall standing down here and declaring that this was the only job I had ever wanted. Throughout a 15-minute ceremony, Jeanneret declared, “This is the only place I wanted to be. When I said what I did that night, I truly meant it. And now, oh, do I mean it.

He spent the majority of his life in the Niagara region and was raised in the nearby city of St. Catharines, Ont. On October 10, 1971, he broadcasted his first Sabres game on the radio. He later joined the team’s television broadcast in 1995.

Due to multiple health concerns, Jeanneret curtailed his travel plans.

He had a throat cancer diagnosis in 2014, but he only missed a small number of games in the 2014–15 season due to treatment. He received a pacemaker in 2016 as a result of a sluggish pulse.

His wife Sandra, children Mark, Chris, and Shelly, as well as a sizable number of grandchildren, remain. There were no plans for a funeral.

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