Today, I continue the "Greatest Sabres" list with the voice of the Sabres since 1971--play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret.
Jeanneret began with the Sabres in 1971 as the team's radio play-by-play man, eventually assuming television duties during the 1995-1996 season. He is the longest tenured announcer in the NHL.
He worked with partner Jim Lorentz for 20 years before Lorentz retired and now currently works with former CBC Hockey Night in Canadabroadcaster Harry Neale on MSG and WGR broadcasts.
From 1984 to 1992, he did the Sabres play-by-play in addition to being a popular early-morning DJ at CJRN-AM in Niagra Falls, Ontario. He chose to retire from CJRN in 1992 to concentrate solely on the Sabres. "I had enough of two jobs," he said. "I finished the game, came home and had to be up by 4 a.m."
Jeanneret, whose nickname is Rodney or RJ, helped close the Aud on the final night of the 1996 regular season with an emotional tribute to colleague Ted Darling, who was the voice of the Sabres from 1970 until worsening of his Pick's Disease forced him to retired in the middle of the 1991-1992 season.
"I wish that standing next to me right now would be Ted Darling," he said from the ice in a postgame ceremony. "See you in September, one block in t hat direction," he said, pointing toward the new arena, then named the Crossroads Arena. It went on to be called the Marine Midland Arena before taking it's current name of HSBC Arena.
His more famous calls/quotes include: "Top shelf where mama hides the cookies!", "Alexander the Great! Oh is he a red, hot Russian rocket!", "Tis the season. La la la la la, la LaFontaine!", "May day! May day! May day!", "Miroslav Satan! The devil does it again!", "la la la la la la la la la la la la la LaFontaine!", "Maxim Afinogenov, roll the highlight reel!", amongst many others.
Personally, I can't imagine the day when Jeanneret calls it a career. The Sabres just wouldn't sound the same. I'm also convinced that if the Sabres won the Cup, Jeanneret would have a heart attack and die on the air.
Then again, I don't think he'd have it any other way.
Breaking for the weekend, I'll come back with No.3 on monday.