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Sabres shuffle team in booth

Rick Jeanneret will call Sabres broadcasts for several more seasons. He'll be joined by a new partner for the next one.

The Sabres announced numerous changes to their television and radio broadcasts Monday, and the biggest involves the booth. Jeanneret has signed a multiyear contract and will do play-by-play for more games than he did last season, when he took several breaks. Rob Ray will replace Harry Neale as the lead color analyst.

Ray had been serving as the third analyst at ice level. He will stay between the benches for home games, which will leave Jeanneret alone upstairs. Ray is expected to join Jeanneret in the booth on the road, becoming a full-time color commentator after eight seasons with the broadcast team.

Neale will continue to work on the telecasts, as will Kevin Sylvester, Mike Robitaille, Danny Gare and Brian Duff. Neale will join Robitaille as a regular analyst on the pregame show and intermission reports, while Robitaille will continue to do the postgame show.

The role of Sylvester, who filled Jeanneret's seat during the broadcaster's breaks, is being significantly altered. Most of Sylvester's duties will be on the radio, including a daily two-hour show that will debut June 18.

"Sabres Hockey Hotline" will air on the team's flagship station, WGR-AM 550, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Sylvester will serve as its host and executive producer. It will be broadcast from the Sabres Store in First Niagara Center.

"I'm excited to move ahead with this new opportunity and contribute across multiple media platforms," said Sylvester, who will also do feature stories for television intermissions and the team website.

Duff, who began working part time for the Sabres last season, has signed a full-time deal to serve as the host for all the television broadcasts on MSG. He will do the pregame and postgame shows, plus intermission reports.

Gare will write a blog for Sabres.com, appear weekly on "Sabres Hockey Hotline" and contribute to the broadcast feature stories. There is no word on when Jeanneret will take breaks or who would replace him.

"We are very excited to add yet another platform for our fans to get original Sabres content," team President Ted Black said. " 'Sabres Hockey Hotline' will give fans an additional 350-plus hours of Sabres programming each year that we know fans will love."

email: jvogl@buffnews.com