BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Legendary Sabers broadcaster Rick Jeanneret had a knack for rising to the challenge. Many of his calls lived beyond the glitz of the moment, giving fans one more reason to play them over and over again.
Jeanneret died on Thursday at the age of 81. From his reusable trademarks to one-of-a-kind jewels, we remember him with a list of his finest moments on the mic.
Top shelf where mama hides the cookies
Perhaps RJ’s most famous line, “top shelf where mama hides the cookies” was used whenever a player shot into the top of the net. In 2017 Perry’s launched an ice cream called “Let’s Dough Buffalo,” a cookie dough flavor that was a clear nod to Jeanneret and tied in with their 2006 Top Shelf Sundae line.
Regard: Countless players were top notch. Here is an RJ call from a Maxim Afinogenov gate.
Jason Pominville’s shorthanded overtime winner sent the Ottawa Senators home from the 2006 playoffs. Sabers fans started dreaming big in the first year after lockout, and Jeanneret summed it up: “These guys are good!”
Regard: The Sabers produced a Great video about the call.
Brad May’s overtime winner against the Bruins in 1993 led to the famous “May Day” exclamation. The win gave the Sabers a first-round playoff win.
Regard: May walked past Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque before bypassing Andy Moog the winner.
Pat LaFontaine’s Hall of Famer skills were frequently showcased for the blue and gold medals in the ’90s. The speed and excitement with which Jeanneret called the La-La-Las gave you an idea of how much exclamation this moment deserved.
Call a cop, he robbed him
If a goalkeeper stole a sure goal with an incredible save, you better call a cop – he robbed him.
Regard: Martin Biron was stranded outside the net in a game against the Flyers in February 2000, but jumped over the goal post and somehow managed to hit Andy Delmore’s shot with the stick. “He robbed him! Call a cop, he robbed Delmore! Call a cop, I don’t believe it!”
Where Jimmy Hoffa is
In 1994, a year after the May Day goal, the Sabers opened the playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. Dave Hannan was eliminated in Game 6 and scored the only goal of the game in overtime four, forcing Game 7 to take place in New Jersey. Jeanneret entered pop culture with his call, citing the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a union leader with alleged ties to organized crime. Hoffa disappeared in Detroit in 1975 but was never found. The search for Hoffa captivated audiences across the country and was even referenced in the 2003 film Bruce Almighty, set in Buffalo. Jeanneret pointed to the theory that Hoffa’s body was buried in New Jersey.
Regard: “This series is ongoing back to Jimmy Hoffa – back to the Meadowlands in New Jersey.”
We’re not worth it
Dominik Hasek is a goalkeeper goddess and we are not worthy to be in his presence – at least that’s what Jeanneret said. Ryan Miller has also occasionally earned this statement.
Regard: Haseks incredible blocker save Trent Klatt of the Flyers regularly does highlight reels. This happened late in the 1998 regular season when the Sabers won a game 2-1; The Sabers later knocked out the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Capitals in the Conference Finals.
Jeanneret’s vocal style, howling with anticipation ahead of the overtimes, has become synonymous with OT over the course of his long broadcasting career.
Regard: RJ’s last call culminated with Casey Mittelstadt’s overtime goal, a signature approval for the legend in front of a sold-out stadium.
Jeanneret, a phrase frequently used during Ryan Miller’s eleven years in Buffalo, extended the R to Miller to emphasize the extraordinary that made Miller commonplace.
Regard: This phrase was so popular that Jeanneret gave us one last one: “Millerrrrrr‘ during Miller’s jersey retirement.
The shot can be heard across the hockey world
The Sabers were underdogs in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals and a seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. But when Jason Woolley’s overtime goal won Game 1 for Buffalo, Jeanneret called it “the shot that was heard around the hockey world.” The phrase was originally used to describe the first shots in the American Revolution and was applied to baseball in 1951 when Bobby Thompson hit a walk-off home run and won the NL Pennant for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Regard: The Sabers shared the video on Facebook Here.
Roll the highlight film
Only the best of the best were worth Jeanneret dropping that line.
Regard: Afinogenovs incredible spin-o-rama has earned an all-time RJ reputation: “Holy Mackerel, shoot the highlight movie!”
Oh what a hit from Campbell!
Brian Campbell’s devastating goal against RJ Umberger in the 2006 playoffs was cut short by a perfect RJ call.
Regard: That was a great example of Jeanneret’s tone and inflection that adapts to the situation.
The Legion of the Damned
When the Sabers got past the Ottawa Senators and faced the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997, Jeanneret rhetorically asked, “Are you ready, Legion of Doom?”
Regard: Ted Nolan celebrate with the team on the ice is a nice touch.
A standout player, Chris Drury scored in the dying seconds of a crucial 5 game against Rangers in 2007 to equalize the score to 1. “Chris Drury! Who else? Who else? Chris Drury took 1st place with 7.7 seconds to go!”
Regard: After Drury made it lateAfinogenov won the game in overtime.
Brawl between Sabers and Senators
The further back we get from that 2007 incident, the easier it is to forget…that 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 at Drury to a brawl at the line, a goalie fight and a coach-scream match — was a masterclass.
Regard: The seven minute video has the full context.
RJ’s last call
This needs no explanation. Pay attention to the emotional Six minute video of RJ’s farewell here.
Jonah Bronstein contributed to this article.