NY Islanders announcers and alumni remember Buffalo Sabres' legendary broadcaster Rick Jeanneret

2012 Hockey Hall Of Fame Induction - Red Carpet
2012 Hockey Hall Of Fame Induction - Red Carpet / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Hockey fans across the NHL have long known the distinct voice of Buffalo Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret, but it's possible they didn't really understand his meaningful impact on the Sabres franchise, the city of Buffalo, and a long list of peers in the broadcast industry.

The Hall-of-Fame broadcaster passed away on Thursday at the age of 81. He spent a remarkable 51 years with the Sabres Hockey Network, having started with the team as their radio announcer during the 1971-72 season, their second in the NHL, before moving to television in 1995.

On Friday, the Sabres put out an extended video tribute on their social media platforms. I highly recommend watching if you want to learn about Jeanneret's legendary career and understand best why he meant so much to the franchise for so long.

Among his iconic calls (and their were many), was "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LaFontaine!" when the former New York Islanders All-Star would score. "Goodbye to my dear, RJ. I'll miss those hilarious private calls and cherish the public memories, wrote LaFontaine on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We will be inextricably linked forever, and I'm so proud to have been your friend. I just hope you're now way above where 'mama hides the cookies.' "

Former Islander and current Sabres captain Kyle Okposo talked to columnist Mike Harrington about how he used to find himself checking in on the Buffalo games more frequently than others just to listen to Jeanneret. "There are some teams that I prefer not to listen to their feeds, so I don't watch a lot of their games, Okposo said. "When I was with the Islanders, I watched a lot of Buffalo because of RJ. He just called such a good game."

Jeanneret's impact stretched from the ice to the broadcast booths around the league as his peers revered him for his captivating calls, colorful personality, and generous heart. "Heartbreaking. A legend [sic] behind the mic, but I will always remember how kind he was to me when I first came in the league. A hall of famer in every sense," wrote Islanders TV play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke.

"Rest in peace to an icon, one of the best to ever put on a headset, added Bridgeport announcer an Islanders fill-in Alan Fuehring. "He always met the moment. I’ll never forget RJ’s generosity. There was no time to talk before this game in April 2022, but he made time."