The Buffalo Sabres zeroed the visiting Anaheim Ducks 3-0 on Saturday night. Linus Ullmark made an impressive 40 saves to ground a potent Ducks offense and earn his second shutout of the year. His stellar performance was not was everyone was discussing after the game, however.
76-year-old Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret was suddenly absent on commentary during the third period of the game, color commentator Rob Ray was forced to take the reigns until intermission host Brian Duff arrived to finish the game. It was revealed after the game that Jeanneret suffered an undisclosed medical event and was taken from the arena on a stretcher after he lost consciousness in the booth.
Easily the most beloved figure in the history of the team, RJ has had some medical problems over the years but didn’t appear to be in rough shape before the game, even appearing on the pregame show dressed in a Santa outfit as “Jolly Old St. Rick” in a hilarious segment. He was doing business as usual through the first two periods of the game. As the third period began, something changed for the worse.
The Sabres released an official statement this morning reassuring fans that the longtime announcer is in stable condition and resting at Buffalo General Hospital. It still hasn’t been revealed what kind of episode Jeanneret suffered, though the heart has been ruled out. The Sabres have not released much information on the subject out of both respect for his privacy and HIPPA laws. Jeanneret did speak to The Buffalo News this morning and appeared to be in good spirits despite what happened.
“I’m still here,” he said the The News’ Alan Pergament with a laugh. “I’m OK, I feel pretty good now.”
Following the announcement Jeanneret received an outpouring of support from fans and broadcast contemporaries alike. He and his wife told The News that they are grateful for the love.
“I continue to be amazed so many people really care about me,” he said. “God bless them. They got me through cancer and getting a pacemaker and they are getting me through this. I’ll be fine.”
The Sabres have stated that RJ will not miss any action of a result of this and will be back in the press box after the Holiday break.
While the medical drama unfolded in the box, the Sabres played a strong game against the Ducks, who are fourth in the Pacific Division. Goals by Rasmus Dahlin, Jeff Skinner and Connor Sheary backed Ullmark’s gem in goal. Assist machine Jack Eichel added two more helpers, bringing him to 34 on the season. Skinner’s goal puts him at 26, which is still second behind Alexander Ovechkin.
Buffalo is off until Thursday for the Holidays and then will travel to St. Louis to take on Ryan O’Reilly and the Blues on Thursday night.
Get well soon, RJ and Happy Holidays to all!