I don't quite know why, but while watching some game highlights from the past week on a stationary bike in the gym over the weekend, and as the slow-mo replay of Quinn's shootout winner scrolled past I found my thoughts wandering to Rick Jeanneret.
It's been 11 long years since that night, but on November 8 2011 the Sabres inducted lifetime play caller Rick Jeanneret in to their hall of fame, and as is his want, he dropped this absolute bomb of a speech.
It really is a ripper.
He quips about keeping the list of thanks short for sake of not being here another 40 years, He shouts out "Hi mom" to his mother in stands who, clearly overcome in the moment says "That's my boy" and waves as the crowd cheers for her. He quips about the kids hiding radios under pillows after lights out. He talks about his grand-kids perspective on his job, He'd hit he jackpot, "Free popcorn, free soda, Free hotdogs".
It is worth noting, the near perfect, reverential silence from the crowd as he punctuates the sentiment of his brief, but truly heartfelt speech, with these words,
"Papa is Lucky, for two huge reasons.
Number One; you see, this is the only job I ever wanted.
and Number Two; This is the only place I ever wanted to be."
A statement that has the crowd, immediately launch in to their chorus, the one so often heard against his most electric calls, only to immediately quiet as soon as the microphone rises again to his lips for his closing thanks. it's clear they're his crowd. He closes with a humble, but clearly sincere "Thanks for listening", and the Chorus goes up again.
They're good words, words expertly chosen to mark a moment in time, by a man whose made the hearts of countless thousands beat faster in joy, and triumph over the years. And now, with a little hindsight, and just a touch of poetry, They're also words that, to my mind, echo out across the current state of Sabres hockey.
If we had a dollar for every time We'd heard Kevyn talk about guys that wanted to be here, well we might be able to afford a beer at the FNC (Heyoooooo) but it's a parallel I refuse to let lie.
Ten years later, on what would prove to be a rare perfect night at the FNC, one honoring his career, RJ references a Neil Diamond lyric and on cue the crowd, still very much His crowd, provided their chorus.
And then the game began.
The visiting Predators provided a worthy level of excitement and entertainment wherein we got to see the first sparks of what we're now starting to see come fully to life, a year later. The team would gut out a win, then, like something from a storybook, in front of an elated crowd, noted lifelong Sabre fan Alex Tuch escorted Rick on to center ice for an ovation you'll not find an equal to. The photographers swarmed, and then the coaches, the trainers, doctors, and staff poured out of the tunnel to join the oceans of people paying respects to the man that defined a franchise.
I don't know if anything will come of this era of Sabres hockey.
But if it does, I need RJ on the trophy.
I don't know if there is actually anything to it, or if I'm just being a sap connecting unconnected dots. If I'm lucky, maybe one day Kevyn might be asked, and respond as Steve Jobs allegedly did of the Apple/Alan Turing theory, "It's not true, but I wish it were".
Whether it's real or not, RJ played a hand in how this team right now is coming together, and for all his accolades, all his earned adoration, he deserves to be stamped in silver for all time. The guys who want to be here now, are the ones who grew up with the unmistakable, inimitable sounds of his electric play calling, They are the kids that hid the radio under their pillow to listen to the Sabres after lights out.
His voice might not be there to call the play, the crowd, his crowd, will most definitely be singing their chorus as those very kids write this new chapter.