BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Rick Jeanneret, the legendary Buffalo Sabers broadcaster who called the team for over five decades, died Thursday at the age of 81, the team confirmed to News 4.
Jeanneret turned 81 on July 23.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, Buffalo Sabers Hall of Famer Rick Jeanneret,” the team said in a statement. “Rick passed away with his family by his side on August 17, 2023 after a two-year battle with multiple organ failure. He will be loved forever.”
His powerful broadcasting style and goal calls made him a staple of NHL broadcasts and highlight reels for decades, from the team’s sophomore season in 1971 until his retirement at the end of the 2021-22 season. Some of his best-known announcements include the “May Day” call after Brad May’s overtime goal in the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins and the “Millerrrrrrr” call after former goaltender Ryan Miller’s saves.
Towards the end of his career, Jeanneret reduced his travels with the team, with eventual successor Dan Dunleavy taking on the vast majority of play-by-play duties. The 21-22 season was his last season in the NHL and became known as “RJ’s Last Call”. His last game was on April 29, 2022. That came almost a month after he was honored at RJ Night, where he had his name hung on a banner hanging from the rafters alongside other Sabers greats.
His broadcasting career began with the Niagara Falls Flyers junior A team in 1963 before taking over full-time play-by-play duties for the team in 1965. He also named the AHL Buffalo Bisons before the city was assigned an NHL team in 1970.
He was inducted into the Sabers Hall of Fame in 2011, and a year later inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
“Rick was indeed a very special man and much loved by all who knew him and listened to him, his magic and his commands. How glad I am to have known him. How lucky we all were to be around him and listen to him,” team owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. “Rick Jeanneret shaped the story of the Sabers well beyond the booth and we will miss him dearly. My deepest condolences to Sandra, Rick’s family, friends and everyone he loved.”
He leaves behind his wife Sandra.
The Buffalo News first reported it Story.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 team in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.