Rick Jeanneret Tragic Passing at 81: Iconic Voice of Sabres Silenced, Fans Mourn

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Rick Jeanneret, a renowned Canadian broadcaster who spent 51 years covering the Buffalo Sabres, has died at the age of 81. His name was associated with the team. After a two-year battle with multi-organ failure, Jeanneret, who won the Foster Hewitt Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, passed away peacefully, according to his family. The message from his family expressed their unwavering affection for him.

RJ Jeanneret, who went by the moniker RJ, was a vital part of the Sabres’ radio and television broadcasts from the 1971–1972 season until his retirement following the 2021–22 campaign. He holds the distinction of being the NHL’s longest-tenured play-by-play commentator thanks to his steadfast dedication to the position. Owner of the Sabres Terry Pegula acknowledged his deep admiration for Jeanneret’s enchanted presence and sway, emphasising how fortunate he was to have met and heard him.

Pegula was strongly influenced by Jeanneret’s broadcasts, which gave rise to an enduring love for the Sabres. He continued to have a keen interest in the sports after retiring by going to games the season before. His catchphrases, like the well-known “Top shelf, where mama hides the cookies,” became a byword for his distinctive flair anytime a Sabres player scored with a high shot.

Among his most iconic moments was his “May Day! May Day!” call, capturing Brad May’s decisive goal in a significant 1993 playoff series against Boston. This triumph marked Buffalo’s first playoff series win in a decade. His exclamation “La-la-la-la-Fontaine!” for Pat LaFontaine’s goals in the 1990s, as well as the resounding “Now do you believe?” call during the 2006 playoffs, remain etched in the memories of fans.

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Jeanneret’s broadcasting excellence was recognized when he received the prestigious Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012. In recognition of his contributions, the Sabres commemorated his final season by raising a banner in his honor within the arena. He became one of only three non-players to receive this distinction from the team.

Even after experiencing health setbacks, such as a struggle with throat cancer in 2014 and the implantation of a pacemaker in 2016, Jeanneret persisted in motivating others via his unrelenting dedication to the game. His wife Sandra, children Mark, Chris, and Shelly, as well as a sizable number of grandkids, will enjoy the legacy he leaves behind. Funeral preparations’ specifics are still to be determined.

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