Bill Wippert / Buffalo Sabres
Rick Jeanneret was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday with the Foster Hewitt Award for excellence in broadcasting.
What can you say about Rick Jeanneret, especially to Buffalo Sabres fans? The man has been the unequivocal voice of the Sabres for every fan under the age of 35, and has been broadcasting blue and gold hockey for over 40 years. His iconic calls are legion, as we explored this summer, and the fact that he's spent the last year receiving award after award tells you that everyone from Buffalo to Vancouver feels the same way: Rick Jeanneret is one of the great hockey broadcasters of all time.
Yesterday, the Hockey Hall of Fame agreed, and awarded Jeanneret the Foster Hewitt Award for broadcasting excellence. Jeanneret received the award at a luncheon attended by Lindy Ruff, Darcy Regier, Ted Black, and his 92-year old mother Kay.
His plaque will now hang in the Great Hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and he received a snazzy navy blue blazer to add to his collection of brown and dark brown blazers. The Foster Hewitt is the highest award that a hockey broadcaster can receive, and for a man who's been inducted into the Buffalo Sabres and Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fames as well as the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in the past year, there's not much more he can accomplish professionally.
However, for Jeanneret, and for Sabres that can't imagine a hockey season without him, there's still one thing he hasn't done: call a Stanley Cup victory.
Having broadcast Sabres hockey for over 40 years, Jeanneret is no spring chicken. However, he is currently in the middle of a multi-year broadcasting deal, and did ask to call all 82 games again this year before the lockout crushed that dream. He clearly still has a bit left in the tank, but how much more? Sabres fans can expect at least this year and next, but that's a pretty shot window for something that die-hard fans have been already waiting for for three or more decades.
The team as it currently stands doesn't seem like it belongs in the "Cup Contender" group, and didn't even make the playoffs last year. If they were to watch Jeanneret retire before he got to raise the Cup, it would leave one gaping hole in the middle of a phenomenal career. For now, though, let's just make sure we enjoy this year and next, and then we'll see where life, and the voice of the Sabres, go from there.