Every local NHL fan has his or her favorite play-by-play announcer, either on TV or radio. Some may even have a guy who can be rightfully called "The Voice of (Insert Team Here)," which will get very confusing if they in fact become the Winnipeg Insert Team Here.
Legendary status usually comes with decades of memorable calls and the development of unmistakable shtick. Which is to say that Rick Jeanneret is the Voice of the Buffalo Sabres, even if he'd defer to the late Ted Darling. And fans in Buffalo and around the NHL have been blessed to hear this pro paint an audio picture for decades.
Retirement has always been a lingering issue (he was born in 1942). His workload decreased slightly when he'd step away from the mic for Sabres' West Coast trips. But in 2011-12, his 40th season with the team, that workload for Jeanneret and Harry Neale will significantly decrease.
From the Sabres:
Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black announced today that the broadcast team of Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale will only work home games and a reduced road schedule of approximately 10-15 games next season. Their exact road schedule will be determined once the 2011-12 NHL regular season schedule is released.
"It's no secret that the constant travel has been wearing on me over the years, and there were several times last season when I thought that it might be my last," Jeanneret said. "That's why I presented this arrangement to Sabres management. I think it's the best of both worlds, and allows me to continue doing the job I love. I really want to thank the Sabres for accommodating my request."
So this is your sobering "enjoy it while you can" moments that arrive with any legendary voice getting up in the years. Barring some unforeseen project in which the Sabres create a Jeanneret-Bot cyborg to continue broadcasting games in perpetuity — and if that cyborg ever went haywire, what a SyFy Original Movie that'd be — he's going to leave the gig eventually. And when he does … we'll, we're just going to wear out YouTube watching these clips:
Bonus: One of the greatest non-action Jeanneret classics, in which he's given a new pillow.
"Whoever you are, be you bozo or bimbo."