Hockey world pays tribute to Rick Jeanneret

Hockey world pays tribute to Rick Jeanneret

Jason Pobben-Bell, shorthanded! Oh, now do you believe! Now do you believe!
Are you ready? Leeching of doom!
He’s making a goal! He should be!
AJ! AJ! AJ! AJ!
No matter how old you are as a Savers fan, he’s the guy you’ve heard call a goal.
He was a part of the team. He was a part of… we wanted to listen to the calls, right?
You know, he left an impression in guys’ eyes because they wanted to do something special just because they know that he would have taken it to the next level.
He’s a legend. How can he not be a legend for 50 plus years?
The most important thing is that he loved the fans.
I have only three words. Just three. I love you.
Tonight, a difficult goodbye to a Buffalo Sabres legend.
Rick Jennerette, the voice of Buffalo hockey for more than 50 years, has died at the age of 81.
Good evening, everyone. Jeff Russo along with Leah Lando outside of Key Bank Center where the unmistakable voice of Rick Jennerette has been on repeat.
Echoing here through downtown Buffalo and the plaza here throughout the afternoon as the Western New York community and really the hockey world remembers and mourns a true one of a kind, not only in broadcasting, but in life.
Yes, so many people stopping by here of all ages and even though it is a somber day, you can’t help but smile when you hear his calls that are broadcasting right now.
It was way back in 1971 when Rick Jennerette began his storied career with Buffalo Hockey.
First in the radio booth, moving in front of the camera in 1995.
In 2012, RJ earning one of hockey’s highest honors and being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
After 51 years, Jennerette hung up the headset in April of 2022.
The night of his final call, he became the 10th member of the Sabres organization to have a banner in the Key Bank Center Raptors.
And the Buffalo Sabres organization calling him not just the voice of the Sabres, but the voice of the city while recognizing him for the incredible man that he was, not just inside the booth, but outside as well.
A lot of people sharing a lot of memories today. I had a chance to speak with some of the people who not only shared a broadcast booth with RJ, but also who shared special friendships along the way.
We begin tonight with former Sabres goaltender and now broadcaster, Marty Baran.
He loved this team. He loved every single people in the organization. He loved every single fan that watched him on TV, that came to the games, that sat in the seats.
Marty Baran tells me he was crushed when he heard the news that Rick Jennerette had passed away.
Baran spent years connecting with RJ, first as a player with the Sabres, then as a broadcaster.
He was a part of the team. He was a part of, we wanted to listen to the calls, right?
We wanted to listen to Pomenville’s overtime goal game five against Ottawa in those six playoffs because we wanted to know, what did RJ say? How did he call it?
He defended us as players. I mean, my fight with Ray Emery in the famous Ottawa brawl, like you listen to RJ’s call and it’s probably a 50-50 fight.
Like I came out of that fight with a tie maybe, or a split decision at worst, right?
You listen to the Ottawa call, it’s a complete knockdown where I’m like bleeding from my ears on the ice, right?
Jennerette’s legendary calls and unique style earned him entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But he’s also being remembered for who he was outside of the broadcast booth.
I think that’s how genuine he was. RJ didn’t worry about what he looked like or anything like that.
He just, this is me and people accepted it and he was more than content to be like that.
And he didn’t want to try to be, he never tried to be anything other than what he was.
And I just think he had such a passion for the game, a bigger passion for this organization.
The initial reaction like so many around Buffalo was tears.
John Vogel covered the Sabres for 20 years with both the Buffalo News and the Athletic.
Vogel remembers Jennerette as a close friend.
How did he touch you? I know you covered the team for so long.
It started right off the bat. I started in 2002 covering the Sabres and back then I used to travel with the team on the plane.
And the very first flight was to Raleigh and the crosswind as we were landing was ridiculous.
I mean, the plane’s tail was wagging back and forth and RJ was in the row behind me.
And all of a sudden as we’re coming in, he says, hold on to your hats, we’re coming in hot.
So what could have been a scary flight, which was really a rough one, I’m sitting there thinking, oh my goodness, I might die to the play-by-play of Rick Jennerette.
It’s like losing a family member, you know, it’s just, you develop that kind of relationship with a guy like Rick Jennerette, a guy like Van Miller, right?
And when they pass away, you feel like you lost a member of your family and it hits that hard.
Howard Simon has worked in Buffalo broadcasting since 1989 and says RJ was a perfect fit for the Queen City.
The guy bled blue and gold, you know, you could hear that, you could hear that in his voice.
You could hear that passion, that energy that, you know, that want you for the Sabres to win hockey games, to make the playoffs, to win championships.
Does his voice today bring a little bit of comfort?
Yeah, look, I can’t tell you the number of times since last night I’ve gone from crying quickly to smiling and laughing because I’m hearing a clip.
When you get, if you’re sad and we all are, you know, Rick Jennerette is no longer with us.
But if we think his voice was stilled forever, of course not.
And when you get sad and we’re down because we’ve lost Rick, just go listen to some of his clips.
Because immediately your face will break out in a huge smile and you’ll start laughing and you’ll start, you might have some more tears, but they’re going to be happy tears.
Because you’re going to be remembering all the thrills and all the joys of each moment that you got because of Rick Jennerette’s call.

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