Sabers honor Jeanneret with banner ceremony

Legendary Buffalo Sabers play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret was bestowed the greatest honor on Friday when a banner bearing his name was added to the rafters of KeyBank Center.

A sold-out arena welcomed RJ to the ice during a pregame ceremony on RJ Night presented by Wegmans and the cheers continued throughout the night.

Watch the full ceremony here:

Video: RJ Night: Full Banner Ceremony

Jeanneret, 79, is retiring at the end of the season after 51 years behind the mic. He started on the radio in 1971 and joined the Sabers TV broadcasts in 1995. He is the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NHL.

RJ is a member of the Sabers Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame (as the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award in 2012), the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, and the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

His banner joins those of Sabers alumni Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Tim Horton, Danny Gare, Pat LaFontaine and Dominik Hasek, and original owners Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup R. Knox.

He will call five more games in April with his “last call” scheduled for April 29 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Tickets for all remaining home games are on sale now.

Players walked into the building on Friday sporting RJ’s signature look: a mock turtleneck and suspenders.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Can we hang this outfit in the rafters too? #ThankYouRJ

Fans also got into the action and were able to take photos with special RJ signage in the concourse.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Just a few RJ fans in the house tonight 😉 # ThankYouRJ
Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: The one and only. # ThankYouRJ

The first 10,000 fans in attendance received a banner replica.

Here’s Jeanneret’s reaction to the ceremony when he met with the media during the first intermission:


RJ is known for many legendary calls, including “May Day!” which was voted on by fans as his “Best Call” after a bracket-style vote that featured 16 classic highlights:

Video: Announcing the winner of RJ’s Best call bracket

Congratulatory messages from around the hockey world rolled in (and keep rolling in). Watch the full compilation below, featuring RJ’s family, some of his current and former broadcasters, current Sabers, Sabers alumni, and more (including Wayne Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky and Chris Berman):

Video: Congratulations, Rick Jeanneret

Those who know him also struggled to describe the man in just one word:

Video: RJ Night: Describe Rick Jeanneret in one word

With the ceremony being held on April 1, roll back the highlight film on some of his greatest off-the-beaten-path moments over the years:

Video: Rick Jeanneret gag reel


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