G. McConway
August 18, 2023

Hall of Fame Broadcaster for Buffalo Sabres Dies at 81

To understand this loss, you have to be a sports fan, plain and simple.

When a team loses its broadcaster, especially one that has been in the booth for five decades, it is like a family member has passed away.

That is why the entire city of Buffalo, and its fans around the country, are heartbroken over the death of Rick Jeanneret today, reported the Buffalo News. 

Something is Missing

As a passionate fan of the game, when you lose that voice that brought excitement, joy, frustration, and yes, even disappointment and anger into your life, it just hurts.

Growing up in Philadelphia and being a sports fanatic, the voices of my youth were Gene Hart, Harry Kallas, and Richie Ashburn. Also a lifelong Cowboys fan (yes, I was a Cowboys fan in Philly), I can remember using the CB radio to have a friend of my aunt who lived in Dallas broadcast the game to me with Bill Mercer and Verne Lundquist.

In high school, it became Brad Sham calling the plays, who remains the broadcaster today.

Let me put it this way, I bought a friend a Cameo of Brad Sham, and he teared up as though it was the greatest gift he had ever gotten.

That is what these people mean to us as sports fans. Some of our greatest memories have these voices playing in our heads.

Jeanneret started broadcasting for the Sabres at the start of the 1971-72 season, and he sat at that microphone until the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.

The team announced that he had passed away this week, and it literally broke the heart of hockey fans up north.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula stated, "Rick was indeed a very special and very loved man, to and by all, who knew him and listened to him, his magic, and his command.

"How glad I am to have known him. How lucky were we all to have been around him and to have listened to him."

The excitement he brought to the game was undeniable. Just listen to this call of Philadelphia Flyers RJ Umberger violating the number one rule of hockey, not keeping his head up, as he tried to cross the blue line with the puck, where he was met by a truck named Brian Campbell…

Seriously, if you were not a hockey fan and just watching that game casually, how do you not fall in love with the game and its sheer brutality?

Pegula continued, "Rick Jeanneret's mark on Sabres history extends far beyond the broadcast booth and we will miss him dearly. I extend my deepest condolences to Sandra, Rick's family, friends, and all that were loved by him."

Sabres forward Alex Tuch became a hockey player, in part, because of Jeanneret. He grew up in Syracuse listening to his calls of the game, surely contributing to the passion he would have for the game that led him to become a professional hockey player.

Tuch stated, "Being a Sabres fan since I was 3 years old, it meant a lot to me to see someone who really propelled my love for the game to be honored in that way.

"It was just a phenomenal night in general and it was great that we got to win, but afterwards just the applause and the gratitude that everyone showed him was phenomenal," reported CBS News.

For Buffalo fans, I would wager that Jeanneret's "May Day" call rivals that of Al Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles" call when the US team took out the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics…

To those of you that are not hockey fans, in particular Buffalo Sabres fans, you will probably never get it.

For those that live and breathe sports, well, right now, I would imagine you are all shaking your head up and down, possibly even a tear welling up in the corner of your eye.

Rest in peace, RJ…

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