When the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame named Rick Jeanneret as one of its newest members this week, there was really only one line left to fill on his honor sheet. The Sabres' longtime announcer, who already has been inducted into the team's Hall, had an open space for the ultimate honor -- the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The space was filled today. Jeanneret has been named as this year's recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster, a a prize that grants him a spot as a media honoree in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"I’m excited, there’s no doubt about that whatsoever," Jeanneret said by phone this afternoon. "You can try and act blase and try and say, 'Well, it’s just another day in RJ’s life,' but it’s not."
Jeanneret, who started covering the Sabres in 1971, is the longest-tenured announcer in the NHL. He is the second Buffalo play-by-play man to earn the honor, joining the late Ted Darling (1994).
"It’s a chance to be among some pretty exotic company," Jeanneret said. "I’m not only talking about the people I’ve worked with like Ted Darling, but somebody that I admired when I was growing up and that was Danny Gallivan."
Gallivan, an inaugural winner of the Foster Hewitt award, called games for the Montreal Canadiens and "Hockey Night in Canada." Jeanneret will be enshrined alongside him in Toronto in November.
"When I first started, Danny was still working," Jeanneret said. "He was just at the end of his career, but I remember looking down the broadcast press row in Montreal Forum and seeing him down there. It made me feel pretty special down at the other end, I can tell you that."