Matthew Barnaby Remembers Rick Jeanneret

August 21, 2023
August 21, 2023

It's a sombre day as we bid farewell to a true legend of the hockey world. Rick Jeanneret, whose iconic voice resonated through arenas for over half a century, has left us. This tribute is for RJ, a man who touched hearts and left an indelible mark on the sport we love. With 51 remarkable years in the same broadcast booth, his contribution was nothing short of extraordinary.

Rick Jeanneret wasn't just a commentator; he was a tremendous human being who dedicated his life to bringing the thrill of hockey to fans across generations. His legendary calls captured the essence of the game and earned him a special place in the hearts of fans. For Buffalo, he was more than just a commentator—he embodied the spirit of the city. Passionate, genuine, and with a heart worn on his sleeve, he was a true fan at heart. Yet, he struck the perfect balance, never veering into excessive bias.

Many will remember Jeanneret's voice as the quintessential voice of Buffalo. Those who had the privilege of witnessing his calls experienced a unique connection to the game. As a young player called up to the big leagues, I can attest to the impact of his calls. I wasn't familiar with RJ when I first stepped onto the ice, but delving into his calls after games gave me a new perspective. His call on the famous "May Day" goal, which coincided with my NHL debut, is a prime example of his influence. It's incredible how a single call can shape a career and even generate $15 million in earnings, a testament to the power of his voice.

One of the standout moments was my hat trick on Mother's Day against my childhood team, LaFontaine. As I looked at my mom in the stands, I could hear Jeanneret's voice capturing the emotion of the moment. He had a way of making every victory and every goal even more special.

Beyond the microphone, RJ was a presence in the arena. His daily appearances were a source of inspiration and comfort for players and fans alike. The conversations we shared off-camera were insightful and meaningful, contributing to the sense of camaraderie within the hockey community.

As we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones, we also remember how he touched lives beyond Buffalo. His signature catchphrase, "Top shelf where Mama hides the cookies," will forever echo in our minds, reminding us of his unique charm. And while he may have left us, his calls and his legacy will never grow old.

Rick Jeanneret wasn't just a commentator; he was a symbol of dedication, passion, and love for the game. His impact stretched far beyond Buffalo; his calls were etched in the memories of fans across the nation. Whether it was the legendary calls or his unwavering devotion to the sport, there's no doubt that he will be sorely missed. His legacy as an absolute legend will continue to inspire and resonate with generations to come.

In the words of Sabres GM Kevin Adams, Jeanneret wasn't just a representative of the team—he represented the entire city of Buffalo. His 50-plus years of commitment made him an integral part of the community, a true staple in the lives of those he touched. Even for those of us who grew up on the other side of the country, like Vancouver, Jeanneret's influence was undeniable. His iconic calls transcended geographical boundaries and united hockey fans under one voice.

As we reflect on the legacy of Rick Jeanneret, we're reminded of his unparalleled contributions to the sport we cherish. From the epic battles on the ice to the exhilarating goals, his voice brought us closer to the action. The hockey world has lost a true luminary, but his memory will forever live on through the highlights, the cheers, and the echoes of his unforgettable calls.