BUFFALO, NY (WKBW/SABRES) - Legendary Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will remain behind the microphone to call Sabres games for the next three seasons, the Sabres announced Thursday morning.
Jeanneret, hockey's longest-tenured broadcaster, has signed a new, three-year contract with the team to remain its primary play-by-play voice. The Sabres Hall-of-Famer will call an increasingly reduced number of games during the next three seasons before stepping away from the microphone for good. Veteran broadcaster Dan Dunleavy has been added to the Sabres broadcast team and will serve as Jeanneret's substitute before assuming the primary play-by-play duties for the 2016-17 season.
"We are very lucky to have such a deep and talented pool of broadcasters in the Sabres organization," said Sabres President Ted Black. "RJ is a hall-of-fame talent and we are thrilled that he will be with us for three more years as he winds down his prolific career. We are also excited to bring on Dan, who is a proven play-by-play talent that we know will be a capable successor to RJ. Having an up-and-comer like Dan and a broadcasting legend like RJ behind the microphone will be a great one-two punch for our Sabres broadcasts in the coming years."
Jeanneret, who was awarded hockey broadcasting's highest honor, the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, in 2012, will be embarking on his 42nd season behind the microphone for the Sabres in 2013-14. He began his broadcasting career with the team during the 1971-72 season and, at the end of his new contract following the 2015-16 season, will retire after calling Sabres games for 44 seasons. As part of his new contract, Jeanneret will remain with the team in an honorary capacity after he retires in 2016.
"This decision was obviously very difficult for me to make," Jeanneret said. "It has become a yearly deliberation, deciding if the coming year would be my last or what season I would finally step away. I initially thought doing a full year of games this coming season and then retiring was the way to go. After discussing it with my family and with the Sabres, we all thought signing this new deal was the right choice. I get to continue to do what I love while slowly reducing my workload and eventually turning the reins over to Dan, who I greatly respect and believe Sabres fans will grow to love."
Dunleavy, who comes to the Sabres from the Toronto Maple Leafs' broadcasting team, will begin his substitute play-by-play duties this season, filling in for games that Jeanneret takes off. In addition to his play-by-play duties, Dunleavy will serve as on-air talent for Sabres pre- and post-game broadcasts and will have a substantial presence on Sabres.com.
"I am excited and honored to join the Sabres organization and its tremendous broadcasting team," Dunleavy said. "I'm excited because it's well known that Buffalo is a hockey-crazy city that adores its hockey team. It makes being a broadcaster so much more thrilling when you know that the fans are on the edge of their seats while watching their team. And I'm honored that I get an opportunity to work with and learn from one of the best play-by-play announcers hockey has ever seen in Rick. He is the pinnacle of our profession and I'm humbled that I will be following in his legendary footsteps."
Prior to joining the Maple Leafs' broadcast, Dunleavy spent 19 years at Sportsnet Radio and The Fan 590 Toronto. In addition to filling in as a play-by-play voice for the Sabres in the 2010-11 season, Dunleavy's experience includes nine years of play-by-play of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Halifax and Quebec City, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Men's and Women's Hockey, the OHL's Mississauga Majors, and Canadian Hockey League and American Hockey League games on Rogers Sportsnet. The Toronto native has also called soccer and lacrosse games, serving as the play-by-play voice for the National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock on The Fan 590 and is the radio and television play-by-play voice for Toronto FC on Sportsnet TV/Radio and TSN 1050 Radio.
Jeanneret and Dunleavy will be joined by Rob Ray, who will return to serve as color commentator for all Sabres broadcasts. Brian Duff will also return for his third season with the Sabres broadcast team, maintaining his role as the in-game host for pre- and post-game coverage, as well as intermission reports.