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Longtime Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret to retire after 51st season

Rick Jeanneret will retire as play-by-play announcer of the Buffalo Sabres after this season.

The 79-year-old is entering his 51st season with the Sabres, beginning his tenure as the longest announcer with one team in NHL history when he called games on the radio during their second NHL season in 1971-72.

He will call a limited number of games this season.

“To my Sabres family,” Jeanneret said in a statement Friday, “To spend 50 years doing any one job is more than a person can ask for, let alone one as special as mine. My interactions with the fans at KeyBank Center have been one of the thrills of my career, one that was sorely missing over the past year.

“So, let’s make it 51. I look forward to seeing you at the rink for one last run.”

Jeanneret moved to television in 1995-96 and did TV and radio starting in 1997-98, became a Buffalo sports legend with his signature call, “Top Shelf, where momma hides the cookies.” He was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2011 and given the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

Jeanneret had to leave in the third period of the Sabres’ 3-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2018. He also overcame stage 3 throat cancer that required him to miss part of the 2014-15 season until returning eight days after a CT scan showed he was clear of the disease.

Before joining the Sabres, Jeanneret was an announcer for the Junior A Niagara Falls Flyers starting in 1963.

“I can’t imagine that I would’ve done anything else with my life. I can’t think of another occupation. I can’t think of another city. I can’t think of another sport,” he said. “I think that the Buffalo Sabres and RJ were meant for each other.”