BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Amidst a touching visual tableau at Alumni Plaza in front of the Buffalo Sabers’ home arena, complete with flowers, banners and photos, perhaps the most poignant tribute to legendary announcer Rick Jeanerret was heard, not seen.
As Sabers fans gathered at Alumni Plaza to pay their respects to Jeanneret, who died Thursday at the age of 81, some of his most famous calls played out on a loop from a loudspeaker. Some fans told News 4 that hearing RJ’s voice made them emotional.
“Just hearing his voice brings back a lot of memories,” said lifelong Sabers fan JoAnn Thomason. “I grew up listening to him, going to games, it’s just, I don’t know, I feel like Buffalo’s voice has been silenced. He was a great guy and did so much for the team and the city.”
Hockey fans from far and wide stop by throughout the day to lay flowers, take photos and honor Jeanneret’s legacy. Many Sabers fans shared similar experiences and spoke of how Jeanerret was embedded in the team’s culture and an indelible part of the fan experience.
“Just his excitement, listen to ‘May Day’ when Brad May scored the winning goal,” recalled Jerry Oczek, a 41-year Sabers fan. “So many memories with… the whole French Connection and the players afterwards. If you’re a Sabers fan, you know that.”
Sam Graun was among 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 could hear him calling it, yelling in the background and it got you excited,” Graun said. “And I just think that he made everything, whatever it was, more exciting because of the passion that he brought with him.”
Justin McMullen is from western New York and joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more about his work here.