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Rick Jeanneret: The Spirit of the Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - MAY 12: A young Buffalo Sabres fan holds a sign in support of her team during the third period of Game 2 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators on May 12, 2007 at the HSBC Center in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Chris HoyContributor IMay 3, 2009

The Buffalo Sabres' organization seems to have a knack for being the “longest tenured.” They have the longest tenured coach and the longest tenured GM.

Until their split at the end of the 2007-08 season, they had the longest tenured relationship with their AHL affiliate, a 29 year relationship with the Rochester Americans.

A little known fact, but certainly just as important, is that the longest tenured radio play-by-play commentator, Rick Jeanneret, called every Sabres game since their second season—an amazing string dating back to October 1971.

The St. Catharines native should be recognized for his contribution to the popularity of the Sabres, as much as any player in their history. His energetic style has the power to gather thousands in downtown Buffalo for an away game during the playoffs.

It’s easy to forget the energy that was in Buffalo during their post-lockout run in 2006. 'Ol RJ has every bit to do with it, as the players’ performances did.

Where else in the NHL do fans download ringtones of his most famous calls?

RJ is simply a tag line generator. He should be drawing a second salary from the Sabres marketing department, since they tend to use his calls in advertisements and merchandise. 

How many of us bought an old La-la-la-LaFontaine t-shirt?

Other memorable calls include:

“These guys are good! Scary good!”

“Now, do you believe?”

“There’s room on the believers’ bandwagon.”

"There have been more cheap shots in this game than in a Mexican Cantina during happy hour!”

Also, here's the "Closing of the Aud" in 1996 and some players’ nicknames from Jeanneret:

“Dawesome," after a Jason Dawes goal.

“The Boogeyman,” usually after Bob Boughner unloaded on someone.

“Holy Zhitnik,” an Alexei Zhitnik goal.

“Soupey,” Brian Campbell

“Captain Crunch,” former captain Michael Peca.

“The Little Devil,” Miroslav Satan

“Rayzor,” tough guy Rob Ray.

“Ooh-La-La Pierre,” Pierre Turgeon

“The Cookie Monster,” Danny Briere, resulting from the ‘top shelf where Momma hides the cookies’ call.

And, of course, “The Dominator!”

RJ makes no one want to miss a big game. Because of RJ, there is silence in the room on a Sabres’ breakaway.

Because of RJ, the team even lowered the volume on its goal horn for fear of overpowering his call.

If Ted Darling is “the only voice of the Sabres”, then Rick Jeanneret should forever be known as “the spirit of the Sabres”.

If God could have a do over, I have no doubt that RJ would have been doing play-by-play during the Creation.

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