The scary news about Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret Saturday night appeared to be good news Sunday morning.
“I’m still here,” said Jeanneret, laughing and in good spirits from his hospital room Sunday morning. “I’m OK, I feel pretty good now.”
“He is awake and alert and appears to be good,” said Jeanneret’s wife, Sandra.
Jeanneret put quite a scare into Sabres country during the third period of the team’s 3-0 win over Anaheim Saturday night in KeyBank Center when his voice became low and he ultimately went silent before first analyst Rob Ray and then game host Brian Duff took over the play-by-play duties. (Coincidentally, play-by-play man Dan Dunleavy, who splits the season with Jeanneret, was in Buffalo General Medical Center Saturday night visiting a sick relative.)
The broadcast didn’t address Jeanneret’s condition as the game and post-game proceeded, partly because team officials didn’t want to violate HIPAA medical privacy laws.
"We certainly understand the fans' desire for information, but we were dealing with a medical emergency," said Mark Preisler, the executive vice president of media and content for Pegula Sports and Entertainment. "Beyond the issue of HIPAA laws, there is also a human element. We certainly needed to get to his family first and foremost. We are thankful for the care from all medical personnel and look forward to RJ being back in the booth as soon as possible."
Jeanneret understandably didn’t want to go into detail about his medical condition.
“They’re not exactly sure what it was,” said Jeanneret. “They ruled out the heart. The ticker is fine.”
As soon as he realized he was in trouble, Jeanneret said he called down to the broadcast truck to get somebody up in the booth. He was told he passed out. When he awoke he was surrounded by medical personnel.
His wife was watching the game in their home in Canada and realized something was wrong, too.
“I heard his voice and it was not what I am used to hearing,” she said. “When he went silent, I definitely knew something was wrong. He’s a dedicated man and I knew that it had to be something significant for him to stop talking.”
He was released from the hospital Sunday.
"I am bolted to my lazy boy," he texted Sunday night.
The incident Saturday occurred after he was dressed in a Santa Claus costume until the end of the first period. After his youngest grandchild saw him in the costume, he took it off and everything was fine in the second period. But that changed in the third period.
Did he think Santa Claus had anything to do with it?
“I don’t know that,” he said with a laugh, adding the possibility the outfit might have had something to do with it was discussed. “I was unusually warm in the outfit and I’m usually cold up there. I hesitate to blame Santa Claus. It is a bad time of year to do that. I had a fun time doing Santa Claus. I hope it didn’t lead to it.”
Jeanneret and his wife were appreciative of the outpouring of support and prayers locally and nationally as fans and out-of-town broadcasters learned what happened.
“I continue to be amazed so many people really care about me,” said Jeanneret. “God bless them. They got me through cancer and getting a pacemaker and they are getting me through this. I’ll be fine.”
“It is very, very touching,” said his wife. “I wish I could respond to everyone. God bless them all. If prayers work, Rick is going to be fine.”
However, she was not thrilled to hear about all the speculation in the media about her husband’s medical condition.
“I wish people would stop finishing the story and put it out in social media,” she said. “Wait for the facts.”
Barring some complications after all the facts come in, Jeanneret doesn’t even expect to miss a game he is scheduled to work. He isn’t scheduled to work until next Saturday when Boston visits Key Bank Center.
“I fully intend to work as scheduled,” said Jeanneret.