BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Amid a touching visual tableau at Alumni Plaza outside of the Buffalo Sabres home arena complete with flowers, banners and photographs, perhaps the most poignant tribute to legendary announcer Rick Jeanerret was not seen, but heard.
As Sabres fans gathered at Alumni Plaza to pay their respects to Jeanneret, who died Thursday at 81, some of his most famous calls blared on a loop from a speaker. Some fans told News 4 hearing RJ’s voice made them emotional.
“Just hearing his voice brings back a bunch of memories,” said life-long Sabres fan JoAnn Thomason. “I grow up listening to him, going to games, it’s just, I don’t know, I feel like the voice of Buffalo has been silenced. He was a great guy and he did so much for the team, and the city.”
Hockey fans from near and far have been stopping by all day, to lay flowers, take pictures and honor Jeanneret’s legacy. Many Sabres fans shared similar experiences, speaking of how Jeanerret was engrained in the team’s culture and an indelible part of the fan experience.
“Just his enthusiasm, listen to ‘May Day’ when Brad May scored that winning goal,” Jerry Oczek, a Sabres fan for 41 years, recalled. “So many memories with … the whole French Connection and the players afterward. If you’re a Sabres fan you know that.”
Sam Graun was one of many fans who praised Jeanerett’s legendary energy and passion for the sport and the team.
“Whether it was a fight or a goal or whatever, you heard him call it, screaming in the background and it made you get excited,” Graun said. “And I just think he made everything, no matter what it was, more exciting because of the passion he brought behind it.”
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.