As a long-time Buffalo Sabres fan, I cannot image a season without the play-by-play calls of one Rick Jeanneret, who has been with the team since 1971. The longest-tenured announcer in the National Hockey League, Jeanneret received news of a great local honor on June 6 when it was announced he would be inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame; on June 8, he received news of an even greater honor, this one on an international level: he would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award honoree for broadcasting excellence - an honor bestowed on his good friend and fellow Sabres' "voice," the late Ted Darling, in 1994.
While after 40 years it would be difficult to imagine a hockey world without Jeanneret, fans like myself realize that it won't last forever - in fact, he's already setting us up for the day he calls it quits, as he's cut back his play-by-play schedule of road games in the past few years. While someone else may take over the calls someday, no one will ever replace Jeanneret. These are a few of my favorite calls from Jeanneret as he goes to a place he rightfully deserves to be - the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"May Day! May Day!" - The Sabres swept the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs in 1993, ending a ten-year drought of playoff woes for the Sabres. I'm one of the lucky people who didn't hear this call until after the game - because I was there. It was a magical moment for Sabres fans, made even more so by Jeanneret thinking this up on the fly…how does he do it?
"La-La-La-La-La… - LaFontaine!" Pat LaFontaine came to Buffalo from the New York Islanders with much fan fare, and Jeanneret welcomed him with his own epic call, which was, of course, seasonalized during the holidays (FA-La-La-La-La-La-LaFontaine!).
Steve Shields v. Garth Snow - Jeanneret isn't just know for his goal calls - he also calls a heck of a fight. This goalie fight was one of the best.
"Back to where Jimmy Hoffa is" - the call and goal that ended the epic four-overtime Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils in 1994 - Dave Hannan scored the game winner just after 1 a.m.
Sabres/New York Rangers Round 2 Game 5, 2007 - "Who else?" could've made this call more memorable than Jeanneret? Chris Drury's tying goal with 7.7 seconds to go in regulation, teamed with Max Afinogenov's OT goal. A Rick Jeanneret call in overtime? Priceless.
Paula is a life-long resident of Buffalo, New York and a long-time Sabres and NHL fan.