Buffalo Sabres broadcasting legend Rick Jeanneret has died at the age of 81 following a two-year battle with multi-organ failures, the team confirmed Thursday night.
Jeanneret was a play-by-play announcer for the Sabres for 51 years, beginning in 1971-72 and ending in 2021-22.
His last call came on April 29, 2022, on Casey Mittelstadt‘s overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Sabres paid tribute to Jeanneret during his final campaign in the booth and raised a banner bearing his name to the rafters of the KeyBank Center in a pregame ceremony on April 1, 2022.
Buffalo followed the ceremony with a 4-3 victory against the Nashville Predators. In a touching moment, Cody Eakin and hometown hero Alex Tuch escorted Jeanneret onto the ice so that he could join in on the celebrations and take photos with the team.
After the Sabres win, Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin help Rick Jeanneret on to the ice so everyone could take a picture with him 👏🏼
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 2, 2022
Jeanneret was known and celebrated for his exciting and unconventional calls, including – but not limited to – “May Day” and “top shelf where mama hides the cookies.”
The narrator of Buffalo’s greatest hockey memories.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 1, 2022
“Growing up in Buffalo, Rick Jeanneret was not just the voice of the Sabres, he was the voice for our city,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. “He helped foster my love of hockey, along with so many others. Beyond the booth, Rick was an incredible man that was loved by all. His wit and humor was unmatched and we are all lucky to have known him.
“I am heartbroken by his passing and send my condolences to his wife, Sandra, and all of his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”
In a career full of iconic calls, “May Day” is widely recognized as Jeanneret’s best. In 1993, the Sabres hadn’t won a playoff series in 10 years. Brad May changed that when he scored the clinching goal in overtime of Game 4 against the Boston Bruins.
Jeanneret effortlessly met the magnitude of the moment.
A classic Rick Jeanneret call.
An unforgettable goal.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 24, 2018
Jeanneret was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 and was the longest-tenured broadcaster in the NHL at the time of his retirement.
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