Rick Jeanneret, a Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Sabres, has died at the age of 81, the team announced on Thursday. Jeanneret spent five decades as the voice of the Sabres, and he provided some iconic calls.
Jeanneret served as the Sabres' play-by-play announcer from 1971-72 through 2021-22. Jeanneret's excellence in the booth earned him spots in the Sabres Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula released a statement on Jeanneret's passing and said everyone in the organization was lucky to have been around Jeanneret for some portion of his career.
"Rick was indeed a very special and very loved man, to and by all, who knew him and listened to him, his magic, and his command," Pegula said in a statement. "How glad I am to have known him. How lucky were we all to have been around him and to have listened to him.
"Rick Jeanneret's mark on Sabres history extends far beyond the broadcast booth and we will miss him dearly. I extend my deepest condolences to Sandra, Rick's family, friends, and all that were loved by him."
Sabres forward Alex Tuch, who was born in Syracuse, New York, grew up a fan of the team and listened to Jeanneret's calls throughout his childhood. Tuch was there on April 1, 2022, when the Sabres raised a banner for Jeanneret, making him just the 11th member of the organization to receive such an honor. Tuch said it was awesome to see Jeanneret getting the recognition he deserves.
"Being a Sabres fan since I was 3 years old, it meant a lot to me to see someone who really propelled my love for the game to be honored in that way," Tuch said. "It was just a phenomenal night in general and it was great that we got to win, but afterwards just the applause and the gratitude that everyone showed him was phenomenal."
Jeanneret provided the soundtrack for some of the most exciting moments in franchise history. Jeanneret's most iconic is probably his "May Day" call of Brady May's overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs that sent the Sabres to the second round for the first time in a decade.
Jeanneret ended his time as Buffalo's play-by-play announcer following the 2021-22 season, but his impact on the game of hockey will be felt forever.