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Jeanneret ?back to?full slate; Announcer is not?the retiring type

There were more than a few times when Rick Jeanneret settled in for a quiet evening at home and wondered, "What the heck am I doing here?"

The Buffalo Sabres' Hall of Fame announcer has cut back on his travel schedule the past few seasons, and he regretted it a few times last year. Jeanneret, who did play-by-play for 57 of the Sabres' 82 games, enjoyed vacationing with his grandchildren in Florida but was bored sitting in the house other times.

He's decided to give up the vacations and the boredom. Every time the Sabres play next season, Jeanneret will be in the broadcast booth.

The Sabres announced Wednesday that Jeanneret will call all 82 games for the 2012-13 season, which begins Oct. 13 when Pittsburgh visits First Niagara Center.

"Having RJ return to call a full schedule of games next season is great news for our organization and even better news for our fans," team President Ted Black said. "We are so lucky to have a Hall of Fame talent around on a full-time basis again and, after his new contract extension, for years to come on our broadcasts."

Jeanneret had already planned to do more games than last year, but the release of the schedule last week made him decide to go all in. The Sabres are playing on back-to-back nights a franchise-low 11 times, so the city-to-city grind won't be as arduous.

"I thought about it for quite awhile," Jeanneret said by phone. "When I looked at it, I thought maybe this year I'll just take out the West Coast and I'll do all the rest of them. And then when I started to put everything together, I said, ‘What the heck. In for a penny, in for a pound.' I'm going to be here, I may as well do them all.

"There are other things, too, that came into play. I've been feeling pretty good. I'm going to miss the trips to Florida, but I'm not going to miss sitting around the house not doing any games, which happened on a couple of occasions.

"The other thing that impacts it is I think we're going to be pretty darn good this year. I really do. I thought there was some promise last year, and with the maturation of the team alone it should be better. I know they're going to do something else before the free agency period has totally passed by. I'm looking forward to that as well. That of course, as you well know, makes the season a lot shorter when things are going well."

The Sabres recently announced changes that will leave Jeanneret alone in the booth during home games. Harry Neale, Jeanneret's color man the last five seasons, will become a studio analyst. Rob Ray, who had previously covered games from ice level between the benches, will be the full-time color analyst.

"I'm very comfortable with that," Jeanneret said. "We've worked together for the last couple of years anyway, so it's a pretty easy transition as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to miss Harry, and I'm going to particularly miss Harry when it comes to socializing. He and I hung together pretty good on the road, but it comes time for us all. I'm glad that he's still part of the broadcast."

email: jvogl@buffnews.com