Rick Jeanneret, longtime voice of Sabres, dies at 81

Longtime Buffalo Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret died Thursday night. He was 81.

Jeanneret was the voice of the Sabres for 51 years, beginning in 1971-72 during the team’s second season in the NHL. He retired following the 2021-22 campaign with the longest play-by-play announcing career in league history.

He is famous for his “May Day!” call after Brad May scored in overtime to clinch a four-game series sweep against the Boston Bruins in the Adams Division semifinals in 1993. It was Buffalo’s first playoff series win in 10 years.

“It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, Rick Jeanneret, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Buffalo Sabres,” the family said in a statement. “Rick died on Aug. 17, 2023 with his family by his side after a two-year battle with multi-organ failures. He will be loved forever.”

Jeanneret was inducted into the Sabres’ Hall of Fame in 2011 and into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 as the Foster Hewitt Award recipient. A banner was raised to the rafters of KeyBank Center in his honor on April 1, 2022.

“Rick was indeed a very special and very loved man, to and by all, who knew him and listened to him, his magic, and his command,” Sabres owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. “How glad I am to have known him. How lucky were we all to have been around him and to have listened to him.

“Rick Jeanneret’s mark on Sabres history extends far beyond the broadcast booth and we will miss him dearly.”

Jeanneret is survived by his wife, Sandra, his children Mark, Chris and Shelly, and numerous grandchildren.