BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Legendary Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret had a knack for rising to the occasion. Many of his calls lived beyond the glow of the moment, giving fans another reason to play them again and again and again.
Jeanneret died Thursday at 81. From his reusable hallmarks to one-of-a-kind gems, we remember him with a list of his finest moments on the microphone.
Top shelf where Mama hides the cookies
Perhaps RJ’s most well-known call, “Top shelf where Mama hides the cookies” was used any time a player scored into the upper part of the net. In 2017, Perry’s debuted an ice cream called “Let’s Dough Buffalo,” a cookie dough flavor that was a clear nod to Jeanneret, following their 2006 line, “Top Shelf Sundae.”
Watch: Countless players went top shelf. Here’s an RJ call of a Maxim Afinogenov goal.
Jason Pominville’s short-handed, overtime winner sent the Ottawa Senators home from the 2006 playoffs. Sabres fans started to dream big in the first year after the lockout, and Jeanneret nailed it: “These guys are good! Scary good!”
Watch: The Sabres produced a great video about the call.
Brad May’s overtime winner against the Bruins in 1993 led to the famous “May Day” call. The win gave the Sabres a sweep in the opening playoff round.
Watch: May walked Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque before going around Andy Moog for the winner.
Pat LaFontaine’s Hall of Fame skill was often on display for the Blue and Gold in the ’90s. The speed and excitement with which Jeanneret dialed up the La-La-Las clued you in to how much of an exclamation the moment deserved.
Call a cop, he robbed him
When a goaltender stole a sure goal with an incredible save, you’d better call a cop — he robbed him.
Watch: Martin Biron found himself stranded out of the net in a game against the Flyers in February 2000, but dove across the goal frame and somehow managed to get his stick on Andy Delmore’s shot. “He robbed him! Call a cop, he robbed Delmore blind! Call a cop, I don’t believe it!”
Where Jimmy Hoffa is
In 1994, the year after the May Day goal, the Sabres opened the playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. Facing elimination in Game 6, Dave Hannan scored the game’s only goal in the fourth overtime, forcing Game 7 back in New Jersey. Jeanneret crossed into pop culture with his call, referencing the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a union leader with alleged ties to organized crime. Hoffa went missing in Detroit in 1975, but was never found. The search for Hoffa captivated a national audience and was even referenced in the 2003 movie “Bruce Almighty,” which was set in Buffalo. Jeanneret referenced the theory that Hoffa’s body was buried in New Jersey.
Watch: “This series is going back to where Jimmy Hoffa is — back to the Meadowlands in New Jersey.”
We are not worthy
Dominik Hasek is a deity of goaltending and we are not worthy to be in his presence – or, so went this Jeanneret line. Ryan Miller earned this line on occasion, too.
Watch: Hasek’s incredible blocker save on the Flyers’ Trent Klatt regularly makes highlight reels. This came late in the 1998 regular season in a game the Sabres went on to win 2-1; the Sabres later knocked out the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Capitals in the Conference Final.
Howling with anticipation before extra periods, Jeanneret’s vocal stylings become synonymous with OT during his extended broadcasting career.
Watch: RJ’s last call came to its crescendo upon Casey Mittelstadt’s overtime goal, a signature send-off for the legend in front of a capacity crowd at the arena.
Millerrrrrr … makes the save
An oft-used phrase during Ryan Miller’s 11 years in Buffalo, Jeanneret extended the R on Miller to emphasize the extraordinary that Miller made ordinary.
Watch: This phrase was so popular that Jeanneret gave us one last “Millerrrrrr” during Miller’s jersey retirement.
Shot heard ’round the hockey world
The Sabres were underdogs in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference. But when Jason Woolley’s overtime goal won Game 1 for Buffalo, Jeanneret dubbed it “the shot heard ’round the hockey world.” The phrase was originally used to describe the first gunfire in the American Revolution, and was it applied to baseball in 1951 when Bobby Thompson hit a walk-off home run to win the NL Pennant for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Watch: The Sabres shared the video on Facebook here.
Roll the highlight film
Only the best of the best were worthy of Jeanneret dropping this line.
Watch: Afinogenov’s incredible spin-o-rama earned an all-time RJ call: “Holy mackerel, roll the highlight film!”
Oh, what a hit by Campbell!
Brian Campbell’s devastating hit on R.J. Umberger in the 2006 playoffs was punctuated by a perfect RJ call.
Watch: This was a great example of Jeanneret’s tone and inflection rising to the occasion.
Legion of Doom
When the Sabres advanced past the Ottawa Senators to face the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997, Jeanneret asked rhetorically, “Are you ready, Legion of Doom?”
Watch: Ted Nolan celebrating with the team on the ice is a nice touch.
Chris Drury, a clutch performer, scored in the final seconds of a critical Game 5 against the Rangers in 2007 to even the score at 1. “Chris Drury! Who else? Who else? Chris Drury has tied it at 1 with 7.7 seconds to go!”
Watch: After Drury tied it late, Afinogenov won the game in overtime.
The further we get from this 2007 incident, the easier it is to forget … this was a regular season game. The intensity feels unmatched in recent memory. Jeanneret’s narration of the escalating scene — from Chris Neal’s cheap shot on Drury to a line brawl, a goalie fight and a coach screaming match — was a master class.
Watch: This seven-minute video has full context.
RJ’s last call
This one needs no explanation. Watch the emotional six-minute video of RJ’s sign off here.
Jonah Bronstein contributed to this article.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook, Twitter and Threads. See more of his work here.