BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There is no replacing Rick Jeanneret. Just ask his replacement.
Dan Dunleavy officially took over as the Buffalo Sabres play-by-play announcer after Jeanneret retired following the 2016-17 season. However, it wasn’t easy for Jeanneret to step away from the mic, and he found himself calling Sabres game until 2022. The last game Jeanneret called for Buffalo was on April 29, 2022, when in his final game, Buffalo beat the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime.
When it was time for Dunleavy to take over, instead of feeling a great amount of pressure to live up to Jeanneret and his career, he was honored to have the opportunity and finally put what he’s learned to use.
“I think RJ is the one that you knew you could not emulate, everything he did was just so unique,” Dunleavy said. “I knew coming in there’s not a chance you could be another Rick Jeanneret and that’s one of the reasons why I accepted the opportunity,” said Dunleavy.
Dunleavy went on to learn so many different things from Jeanneret throughout their time together. What he learned from him came second to decade-long memories that came with just being around Jeanneret away from the rink. Along the way it was the fun times they had that really stuck with him.
“It was a decade long journey of watching and learning and laughing, a lot of laughing,” said Dunleavy. “I think for me looking back on the memories I had working with Rick it was really just soaking it all in.”
Jeanneret didn’t just leave an impact on his fellow broadcasters. The man many came to know as “RJ” also left a mark on not only Sabres fans but the players, as well. Matthew Barnaby was drafted to the Sabres in 1992 and went on to play for Buffalo for seven more years. He recalled what it was like to hear Jeanneret call the games he played in.
I don’t remember if we won a game or a lost a game. I remember the call,” Barnaby said. “All those things are because of RJ and it will never be duplicated. I was a young kid when I came in to town and RJ just made the game special.”
Multiple generations of Sabres fans were raised on RJ. His impact on Western New York and the entire sport of hockey isn’t something that can be replicated, Barnaby said.
“There’s no one more influential than RJ and that’s going to be forever,” he said. “It’s a sad day that means so much to the Buffalo Sabres and the community of Buffalo.”