By Bradley Girdler
Rick Jeanneret, the iconic voice of the Sabres, has passed away at the age of 81. The Sabres released a statement from Jeanneret’s family saying, he died with his family by his side after a two-year battle with multi-organ failure. He will be loved forever.
He was a Hall of Famer and one of the most remarkable sports broadcasters of all time, Jeanneret was a beloved member of the WNY community and a fantastic man. He is best remembered for his unforgettable on-ice calls, such as “top shelf where mama hides the cookies” and “may day! may day! may day!”
His voice exuded passion that not only commentated on the sabers on-ice plays, it actively enhanced experienceing them.
You couldn’t listen to a Rick Jeanneret call of a goal, or a big hit for Buffalo and not feel your adrenaline surge and a broad smile form on your face. “Holy Mackerel” and “call a cop he robed him blind!” or “La la la la la LaFontaine” to name but a few. These spontaneous, iconic, phrases born of his passion for the team and the moment will live on forever.
Spanning an illustrious 51-year broadcasting career, Rick was duly recognized by both the Sabres and the hockey hall of fame. His outstanding contributions earned him numerous awards and well-deserved recognition, culminating in the esteemed Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for career excellence in broadcasting by the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I was privileged enough to have met Rick many times and he always had time for everyone. I observed many times as he was walking in to the building fans would yell “RJ RJ” and he would always stop and talk to them, taking pictures with them, and giving of his time so generously.
The fans loved him, the players loved him, and the staff loved him. He was generous, funny, passionate and a consummate professional. His name is forever in the rafters of the key bank arena and his voice will be forever in the hearts of Buffalo fans.
After a big Dominick Hasek or Ryan Miller save he famously commentated, “We are not worthy!” but after Ricks life and career I feel it was maybe all of us were not worthy. Rest in Peace RJ.
Rick Jeanneret is survived by his wife, Sandra, his children, Mark, Chris, and Shelly, as well as numerous grandchildren.