BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Rick Jeanneret, the veteran Buffalo Sabres announce who has been calling games for 43 years, is battling throat cancer, but he says it won’t keep him out of the broadcast booth.
The Buffalo Sabres say Jeanneret is confident he’s going to beat this, but first he will be going through six- to seven-weeks of painful treatments in a Canadian hospital, where he lives with his family.
Jeanneret found out he had throat cancer on June 11 when he went to the doctor’s for the sore throat that wouldn’t go away. He has been diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer and is fighting a malignant growth in his throat the size of a golf ball.
“Rick was diagnosed with throat cancer a couple of weeks ago,” said Buffalo Sabres Spokesperson Mike Gilbert. “It will probably last six or seven weeks and Rick expects to make a full recovery. He said I’ll be coming back no doubt about it.”
Jeanneret smoked for several years, but had quit. According to the Buffalo News, doctors have told Jeanneret his cancer has an 85 percent chance of recovery.
He is already putting up a good fight.
Sabres color analyst and former player Rob Ray tells News 4 after receiving the diagnosis, Jeanneret said in a conversation, ‘Cancer…I’ll get over it.’
“He’s the kind of guy who never really shows his emotions a lot. He’s a guy that likes to keep his personal life to himself and when he opens up and lets somebody know there’s something going on his world, it’s pretty important,” Ray said.
Jeanneret’s broadcast persona is anything but reserved. His voice sparks excitement and turns Sabres hockey into high drama on the ice. The St. Catharines native began calling Sabres games in 1971 and is the longest tenured play-by-play announcer in NHL history. Only one equipment guy has been with the Sabres longer than Jeanneret.
Former Erie County Executive Joel Giamba, who has survived tonsil cancer for 14 years, has a sense of what Jeanneret is going through.
“You’re automatically thinking about mortality. You become depressed, you get angry and then it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to handle this. Whether you’re going to roll over or fight,” Giambra said.
Gilbert said, “Rick’s attitude is: I’m going to beat this, and I’m not done yet. He can’t wait to get back in the booth.”
Jeanneret told the Sabres he will be back in the booth this fall for the 40 to 50 games he’s scheduled to broadcast. Well wishes are already pouring in for the beloved broadcaster.
Gilbert said, “This morning I got calls from Ted Nolan, Rob Ray his broadcast partner.”
The Sabres have set up an email address for fans to send Jeanneret well wishes and notes of encouragement. You can send your message to GetWellRJ@sabres.com.
Former Sabre Danny Gare says Jeanneret is tough, and he will be praying for him.
“Rick’s a strong individual,” said Gare. “I know Rick, he’s a fighter, he’ll bounce back.”
When he was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in September 2012, Jeanneret told an appreciative audience, “My career is not over, not quite yet. I look forward to the games and memories to come, always keeping in mind, always keeping in mind, there are thousands of Sabres fans watching, and listening along side me. And there’s one moment I look forward to at most, and I hope it’s not far off, and that’s when this city finally hoists the Stanley Cup.”