Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret has a big decision to make about his future after calling the team’s final two games this season on Thursday and Saturday.
But he is in no rush to decide whether he will be back in the booth for another season in 2019-20.
“I have not decided that,” said Jeanneret, who turns 77 in July and has been calling Sabres games on radio or television since 1971. “I’m staring at six months off in front of me now beginning on Sunday morning. I am going to have some time, AND I am going to take some time, because it is a pretty big decision for me. I can’t say. I just don’t know. Even if I come back, it is not for another six months.”
It is Jeanneret’s call. Last October, Jeanneret said whether he continues work is a “year-to-year” decision.
Back then, Mark Preisler, the executive vice president for media and content for Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said this of Jeanneret’s future: “As long as he continues to call the game at the same level, he’ll be around.”
Of course, it probably wouldn’t be smart for Jeanneret to make a rash decision after the Sabres collapse this season, following a promising start that led to high TV ratings during the team’s 10-game winning streak.
“I’ve seen a lot of bad hockey teams in my 48 years,” said Jeanneret in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “And not necessarily just Buffalo. A lot of bad teams, period. I’ve never seen one where the wheels fell off like this one did.”
“I don’t know what happened. I can’t figure it out. I don’t have anything I can put my finger on. I’m just saying I’ve never seen it happen like this.”
How disappointing was the season to Jeanneret, who shared play-by-play duties with Dan Dunleavy again this season?
“Disappointing,” said Jeanneret. “I honestly thought that this team would be in the playoffs. I didn’t expect them to win the Stanley Cup. I did expect they would be in the playoff mix and they would make the playoffs.”
During the team’s 3-2 loss to Nashville on Tuesday night, Jeanneret tried to find some levity. He noted the Sabres weren’t being booed as they came off the ice as they had been in recent home games.
“That was a little bit of a frivolous thing to say,” said Jeanneret. “I really felt I shouldn’t have said it. They were not booed the other night because they really played well. That’s the kind of hockey they were playing earlier in the season when things were going well. They played a team that is much better, a team that is in the playoffs, fighting for first place in their division. And yet they were competitive all night long and lost by one goal in the end. And it wasn’t for lack of effort; there was all kinds of effort and I think the fans understood that and appreciated it and have not seen that happen regularly lately.”
After further review, Jeanneret put the remark about the Sabres' not being booed in the category of the many things he's said "over the years that were dumb.”
Actually, the comment about not booing seemed more honest than dumb.
Some people would even say it was a smart way to symbolize how the Sabres were being judged after the wheels fell off this season.