Just like the on-ice team, the Buffalo Sabres broadcast crew has undergone a few lineup changes. Coupled with some new technological features, fans can expect a new look when watching games on television this season.
The highest-profile change involves Dan Dunleavy joining the broadcast team. A veteran of Toronto sports media for the past 19 years, Dunleavy will be part of the game night crew, while also filling in for Rick Jeanneret as the team’s play-by-play announcer. Over the next three seasons, Dunleavy will call a select number of games before taking over full-time when Jeanneret officially retires following the 2015-16 season.
Last week, Mike Robitaille announced he will close out his on-air career at the end of the season. Robitaille, a 33-year broadcasting veteran, made the decision so that he’ll be able to spend more time with his family.
Sabres’ vice-president of broadcasting Chrisanne Bellas has worked closely with Robitaille since 1991.
“It’s been an honor to work with him. Seeing him go through the process to make this decision to take this next step in his life, I am thrilled for him,” she said. “He’s going out on top.”
We’re trying to bring our fans as close to the game as possible, and give them a new experience when watching the Sabres. - Chrisanne Bellas
Former Sabre Brad May is the newest member of the broadcast team, returning to the organization that selected him in the first-round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. May will serve as an analyst for approximately 25 games this season before joining the broadcast on a full-time basis next season.
“It seems like a natural fit. To have Brad’s career come full-circle, I can’t say enough. I’m very excited that Brad is joining our on-air-team,” Bellas said.
The Sabres have also made several production-related changes for the new season.
A super slow-motion camera will be used for replays, and a robotic camera has also been added underneath the video board at center ice.
“We’re trying to bring our fans as close to the game as possible, and give them a new experience when watching the Sabres,” Bellas said.
Cameras placed outside of the team’s locker room have also been moved. Originally located on the floor, the camera has been moved to the ceiling, providing better views of the team taking the ice from the dressing room and of fans participating in the VIP Rope Line experience. A robotic camera has also been added to the pavilion to capture fans entering the arena.
The Sabres have also joined a growing contingent of teams that will use virtual advertising this season, with an ad appear on the glass behind each net during game play.
“It only appears on the game camera,” Bellas said. “[The advertisements] are calibrated to appear above the dasher boards just above the net.”
Amidst change, Bellas expressed confidence in the transformation of the broadcast.
“The broadcast staff, led by producer Joe Pinter and director Matt Gould, is working to produce the best regional telecast in the league,” she said. “Combined with our talent that we acquired to replace Buffalo legends, it’s certainly our goal.”
Some things, however, will remain the same.
Producer Mark Blaszak, editors Drew Boeing and Jason Wiese and the rest of the broadcasting team will continue to compile behind-the-scenes footage, in addition to their normal duties. That means more episodes of the award-winning “Beyond Blue & Gold” series, currently in its second season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of their work,” Bellas said. “There is so much to look forward to.”