There are a host of reasons I grew up to be a hockey nut. Primarily my father is to thank for putting me on the ice early and letting me stay in the game throughout my formative years. The Sabres have a lot to do with that development as well, but there are numerous factors in the larger Sabres cloud which contributed to my upbringing in hockey.
Rick Jeanneret is easily in the top five reasons why I fell in love with hockey from an early age. I wasn’t really old enough to remember May Day, but I caught my fair share of La-La-La-La-LaFontaine’s and saw just about every robbery committed by Dominik Hasek. RJ called them all.
As I grew up RJ provided the play-by-play for plenty of memories, most of them create their fair share of goosebumps. I was lucky enough to spend a year working for the Sabres organization and RJ was as friendly as they come. Even last year I had the privilege to work stats for he and Harry Neale late last season. It may have been one of the easiest nights I had working stats, but it was still memorable.
Jeanneret has become far more than a play-by-play man to Sabres fans, of course that is an incredible understatement. Every fan has their own opinion on PxP guys from around the league, but for my money, there is no one better to call a game than Rick Jeanneret.
Dale Hawerchuk holds his own significant portion of Sabres history, even if he may be slightly overshadowed by his fellow inductee this evening. The 90s featured a Bills team highlighted by Andre, Kelly and Thurman and Bruce. The Sabres had their own core with LaFontaine, Mogilny, Hasek and Hawerchuk. While the Sabres superstar core didn’t stick together as long as the Bills, it was still an impressive group that were easy to identify with.
Hawerchuk was one of those acquisitions that fans die for. He was acquired – along with Brad May – for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and the pick that would become Keith Tkachuk. Not a bad deal considering. Sure, you may have wanted Tkachuk in blue and gold for a few years, but Hawerchuk made a good team great between 1990 and 1995.
On the grand landscape of Sabres history Hawerchuk doesn’t necessarily register with some of the flashier superstars that have adorned the blue and gold. However, he is the exact type of player many teams look for. He was a player who put up points (96 in 1993) and would be integral to a Stanley Cup even in the “new NHL”.
As usual the Sabres did a bang up job with the ceremony. If there is one thing truly knocked out of the park by this organization it is special events. Best in the league.
The Hawerchuk video was tasteful and well done, to be expected. Hawerchuk was very humble in his acceptance. He had a great speech befitting of a player who has received the accolades he has through his career.
Jeanneret’s acceptance was expectedly perfect. His tenure as the Sabres play-by-play man is well documented. To call it legendary might be an understatement. Sure, fans of different teams have differing opinions of RJ. But no one compares in these parts. Unfortunately for Kevin Sylvester, or anyone else who steps in after RJ, the shoes simply won’t be filled.