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COMMENTARY

Rick Jeanneret's list of his Top 10 Sabres memories is scary good

Alan Pergament

Rick Jeanneret has seen or called most of the biggest memories in Buffalo Sabres history.

So, it was only natural to ask the play-by-play man for his 10 most memorable moments.

He delivered a diverse list of classic play calls, fights and scary good stories.

Jeanneret, who didn’t do play-by-play until the team’s second season, put the stories in no particular order or supply the dates. That was my job.

Here is his Top 10:

Scary meeting with Toe Blake

Jeanneret said he was doing a game early in his career from the broadcast area in the Forum in Montreal and noticed somebody in the Plexiglas area next to him was not a media person.

“Buffalo scored a goal and I treated it as my usual RJ self,” recalled Jeanneret. “I kind of upset the gentleman next to me, who was Toe Blake, the Hall of Fame Canadiens coach (who won 10 Stanley Cups as a coach and player). He came around the Plexiglas, looked at me and called me every name you can think of in both languages. I probably went over the top with (calling the goal) as usual and he flipped out. I'm trying to hide the microphone because we're on the air. Finally, the usher up there got the security to come and get him and take him out of there.

“He scared the hell out of me. I was a fresh kid. I had just started. The next time Buffalo played in Montreal I looked up just before the game starts and I went, ‘Oh my god here comes Toe,’ and he’s coming straight towards me. … I thought, don’t tell me this is going to be part two. He came up to me, reached out and shook my hand and said, ‘I want to thank you for not getting me in more trouble because I was very stupid, I apologize.' And he looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Now you know why I don't coach.’ I wished the hell the microphone was live then, but it was just before we went on the air.”

'Mayday! Mayday!'

Brad May’s April 24, 1993, goal that gave the Sabres a four-game playoff sweep of the big, bad Boston Bruins: “It really raised the roof off the Aud,” said Jeanneret. “Not the call because people sitting in their seats didn't hear the call. But the goal itself. I think what a lot of people have forgotten nowadays is that May beat Raymond Bourque, a Hall of Fame defenseman. It wasn't just going in and scoring the goal that got them into the next round of the playoffs. But he did it against a pretty classy guy.”

No Goal

Brett Hull’s winning goal in the third overtime to give Dallas a 2-1 win against the Sabres and the Stanley Cup in the sixth game of the final that ended June 20, 1999.

“I said it right away, it wasn’t a goal because how many goals had we seen called back that year because of a skate in the crease? That's the shocking part of it. They called it a goal and then they alluded to some email that they’d sent out or something from the league. I guess I missed that memo. And nobody else had seen it.

"That might have, but not necessarily, denied Buffalo a Stanley Cup, because the Sabres still had to come back and win the series. But that ended it. That was the bad part right there.”

'LalalaFontaine' on goals scored by Pat LaFontaine

“Any of them, for that matter. My favorite would have been right before Christmas in Ottawa when he scored. I did ‘the Fa La La Fontaine.' ”

The 'Top Shelf where Mama Hides the Cookies' goal calls

“What I like about it is when I buzz around in the winter and I go through neighborhood areas I hear kids playing street hockey saying it.”

The Steve Shields-Garth Snow Fight

In Game 1 of the 1997 playoffs between the Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers, a five-on-five fight turned to six-on-six when the goaltenders got involved.

“There were all kinds of other guys involved in the fight, throwing punches all over the place," Jeanneret said. "But Shields and Snow went at it pretty good. Two big boys with all that goaltender equipment on. You don't see those things happen very much anymore. They are out of the game now.”

The Rob Ray and Tie Domi Fights

“They fought so many times. It was amazing because every time they came out on the ice and it didn't matter whether we were in Domi’s building (with Toronto) or Ray’s building, you could almost see the people in the crowd holding their breath because they knew something was going to happen. It might not happen this shift, but it is going to happen before the night is over. They were ready at all times.”

The scary Clint Malarchuk incident

The Sabres goalie's carotid artery was cut by a skate in a March 22, 1989, game against the St. Louis Blues.

“I couldn't believe my eyes. I think I asked, is his throat cut? The answer was affirmative. I was just absolutely shocked. Nobody has seen anything like that. It just never happened. And then, of course, it happened again (in 2008) here with (the Florida Panthers) Richard Zednik. Harry Neale was working with me and he was saying, ‘I've never seen so much blood.’ I went, ‘Unfortunately I have.’

The miracle of it all is that both players were successfully looked after and they were they were able to come back and lead a meaningful life. … I was also told by people that because it was in Buffalo – particularly with the Malarchuk incident – and hockey is so big in Buffalo that when they took him to the hospital, the emergency room had been watching the game. They were fully prepared as soon as they brought him through the door. They knew what to do. They had the right equipment there and everything for him to be treated to the best of their abilities. If he had done that in New York or Chicago, that's not going to happen.”

A fan fight in Chicago

“One night in the old Chicago Stadium, a fight broke out in the crowd behind the bench and the fight was so good that the referee refused to drop the puck. Both teams are standing there, cheek to jowl, watching this battle going on in the crowd. And it was a beaut. I swear there were at least 30 people involved. They were throwing some haymakers.”

Jeanneret called it like a prize fight. “Yeah, but I didn't I couldn't identify anybody. I didn't know anybody.”

The call that never happened

Jeanneret noted at one time Malarchuk, Dale Hawerchuk and Dave Andreychuk were on the same team and he wished something had happened: “I always wanted there to be a scoring play Malarchuk to Hawerchuk to Andreychuk so I could say, ‘Here a chuk, there a chuk, everywhere a chuk chuk.’ It never happened unfortunately.”

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