BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rick Jeanneret, the legendary Buffalo Sabres broadcaster who called the team for over five decades, died at age 81 on Thursday, the team confirmed to News 4.
Jeanneret had turned 81 on July 23.
“It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, Rick Jeanneret, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Buffalo Sabres,” the team said in a statement. “Rick died on August 17, 2023 with his family by his side after a two year battle with multi-organ failures. He will be loved forever.”
His high-powered broadcasting style and goal calls made him a fixture on NHL broadcasts and highlight reels for decades, from the team’s second season in 1971 until his retirement at the end of the 2021-22 season. One of his most iconic calls include the “May Day” call of Brad May’s overtime goal in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Boston Bruins and the “Millerrrrrrr” call for former goaltender Ryan Miller’s saves.
Towards the end of his career, Jeanneret scaled back his travel with the team, with eventual replacement Dan Dunleavy taking over the vast majority of play-by-play duties. The 21-22 season was his final season in the NHL and became known as “RJ’s Last Call,” with his final game coming on April 29, 2022. That came nearly a month after he was honored at “RJ Night,” where he had his name hung from the rafters on a banner alongside other Sabres greats.
His broadcasting career began in 1963 with the Niagara Falls Flyers junior A team before taking over full-time play-by-play duties for the team in 1965. He also called the AHL Buffalo Bisons before the city was granted an NHL team in 1970.
He was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2011 as well as the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame one year later.
“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. How glad I am to have known him. How lucky were we all to have been around him and to have listened to him,” team owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. “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.”
He is survived by his wife, Sandra.
The Buffalo News first reported this story.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.