By Mike Harrington
The Sabres started a major transition on their broadcasts over the summer with the announcement that Dan Dunleavy will be replacing Rick Jeanneret in 2016. More big on-air news came today with the word that longtime analyst Mike Robitaille will be retiring after the season and former Sabres forward Brad May will join the crew this year on a limited basis before moving into Robitaille's slot in a full-time role next year.
"It’s never an easy decision to walk away from doing something that you love,” Robitaille, 65, said in a statement. “Hockey and the Sabres have been a major part of my life for the better part of 33 years and I felt now was a good time for me to step away. Many things factored into my decision, one being that the health effects from my car accident a few years back have become more of a struggle to work through. More importantly, however, is my desire to have more quality time to spend with my family.”
Robitaille, a former Buffalo defenseman who spent four of his nine NHL seasons with the Sabres, was hired in 1980 to join the Sabres radio/TV crews. He has served multiple roles and one of his most well-known was as the original host of "Hockey Hotline", the popular Empire Sports Network postgame show that reached its zenith in the late 90s and early 2000s when Robitaille was teamed with Brian Blessing.
"Roby epitomizes hockey in Buffalo and he’s treated the fans here to more than three decades of his incredible knowledge and passion for the game,” said Sabres President Ted Black. “His insight and humor will be missed on our broadcasts next season but he will certainly be around our Sabres family for years to come. It will be special to see Roby pass the torch to Brad, who brings a similar players’ perspective to his analysis, and have another great Sabres player behind the microphone.”
May, a former Sabres first-round draft pick, will work approximately 25 road games and some home games. He will continue to work this season for Rogers Sportsnet in Toronto, where has been an analyst for three seasons.
“It’s very exciting to see my career come full circle,” May said. “I was drafted by the Sabres 23 years ago and now I’ll have the opportunity to come back to Buffalo to start another chapter of my hockey life and my broadcasting career. My goal is to bring my experiences as a player to the broadcasts and help fans get another perspective on the game. I was honored to have been offered this job and I’m happy to be back in Buffalo.”
May won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and, of course, scored one of the most famous goals in Sabres history in 1993. Do we need to explain? Nope. Do we ever need an excuse to post this video? Nope.