Hockey's longest tenured broadcaster, Sabres Play By Play Voice Rick Jeanneret has been diagnosed with throat cancer.
Team Spokesman Mike Gilbert tells WBEN that Jeanneret, 71, intends to continue in the broadcast booth on his planned shorter 47 game schedule this season. Treatments begin later this week and will last through the summer.
|"He and his family want to focus on getting better and focus his energies on beating the cancer and being back in the booth for the beginning of this season this fall"
-Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert
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On the WBEN Liveline
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Jeanneret started with the Sabres in the 1971-72 season, and endeared himself to fans over 44 years on radio and television. His signature calls include the famous "MAY DAY" , (SEE VIDEO BELOW) but the former disc jockey's hit parade also includes memorable "La-la-la-la-LaFontaine!" and "Top shelf where mama hides the cookies!"
His longevity and continued enthusiasm eventually led to him receiving the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for excellence in broadcasting from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
" He is just an icon. Not just in Buffalo but throughout the NHL... Other broadcasters look up to him and say 'your'e the inspiration as to why I got in the game'," Gilbert says
|From The NHL Hockey Hall of Fame, Here's The Jeanneret Biography
Rick Jeanneret has broadcast Buffalo Sabres' games on radio and television since 1971. Born in St. Catharines, Ontario and raised in Terrace Bay, Rick has also worked in various capacities at CJRN Radio in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He has broadcast hockey for the Niagara Falls Flyers of the then OHA prior and during his early years with Buffalo. Jeanneret's enthusiasm and many signature calls, such as '... and Buffalo wins it in oooooovertime!', have made him extremely popular with Sabres' fans everywhere.
Here's the Team Statement, released Tuesday morning:
Jeanneret is not talking publicly about the diagnosis, but fans can reach out to him by sending well wishes to GetWellRJ@Sabres.com
The Buffalo Sabres are deeply saddened to learn of Rick Jeanneret’s cancer diagnosis. RJ has been a vital part of the Sabres family and the Buffalo community for 43 years and this news undoubtedly weighs heavily on everyone who has had the privilege of listening to his broadcasts through the years. As he begins treatment in the coming weeks, we will continue to keep RJ, his wife, Sandra, his mother, Kay, his sister, Marcia, his children, Mark and Chris, his stepdaughter, Shelly, and his grandchildren in our thoughts. We wish RJ a full and speedy recovery and know his tenacity will serve him well in his fight. On behalf of the Jeanneret family, the Sabres are asking for respect of the family’s privacy as RJ undergoes treatment
The road to recovery for someone with throat cancer could be a long one.
"Chemotherapy and radiation itself typically takes about seven weeks," said Dr. Mark Burke of The Center for Oncology Care at ECMC. "How much time after that until patients get their maximum recovery is usually at the very least several months."
A full recovery from the radiation and chemotherapy treatments could take six to nine months. Dr. Anurag Singh of Roswell Park says someone like Jeanneret will probably want to take the time to get back to 100% before he steps back in front of a microphone. "For the average person, the changes in speaking are not noticable and don't necessarily change the person's daily functions," said Singh. "For someone who's a broadcaster, there could be subtle variations in the voice that may be evident over time."
Here's some snapshots of his career.
VJeanneret (L) and former Sabre Dale Hawerchuk (R) raise sabers after they were inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame Class of 2012 (Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Buffalo Sabres photo of Jeanneret with analyst Rob Ray, broadcasting at ice level December 2013. SEE VIDEO BELOW
At Left... Jeanneret lower left with Play By Play voice Ted Darling, and analysts Mike Robitaille and Jim Lorentz
Below in a 1980's era TV publicity photo
Both courtesy former WBEN News Director Steve Cichon's Staffannouncer.com
At then Marine Midland Arena.
(Steve Cichon's Staffannouncer.com )
And with color analyst Jim Lorentz on air at the Empire Sports Network
(Steve Cichon's Staffannouncer.com )
With Rob Ray in a Buffalo Sabres photo via allsportswny.com
From The Buffalo Sabres and Sabres.com
VIDEO: December 2013 - The Show Must Go On, even in a helmet.
Dealing with a broken elevator to the Press Box inside First Niagara Center, Jeanneret and Rob Ray took their broadcast down to ice level.
Buffalo Sabres Video: Possibly his most famous call ever.
"May Day! May Day! May Day! May Day! May Day! Brad May Wins it in Overtime""
Brad May and Jeanneret have been forever linked by the call of one historic goal in 1992