One week after a surprise appearance during an emotional pre-game ceremony on Hockey Fights Cancer night, Hall of Fame broadcaster Rick Jeanneret will rejoin the Sabres broadcast team to call the first period of Buffalo’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
The game, which begins at 7 p.m. on MSG, will be the Foster Hewitt Award winner’s first game since being treated for throat cancer in early September.
“The time seems right to slowly begin transitioning back to work,” Jeanneret said. “My doctors have told me I’m cancer-free and I’m feeling well enough to get back in the booth, even if it’s only on a limited basis for the time being. The kindness and well-wishes from everyone, especially Sabres fans and the Western New York community, has been overwhelming and I’m truly grateful for the tremendous support during this process.”
Since the announcement on July 2 that Jeanneret had been diagnosed with throat cancer, there was no timetable put on his return to the booth. Dan Dunleavy, who was already scheduled to take on an increased workload this season, has called Buffalo’s first 18 games in Jeanneret’s absence.
Buoyed by the news he is cancer free, Jeanneret decided that he was ready to return on Saturday.
“I'm feeling pretty good, although a little weak from weight loss, which is par for the course and the recovery regimen,” Jeanneret explained. “I had planned all along to get back in the booth, but I couldn't set a timetable given that I didn't know how the recovery would go. I had no preset return date, but it was certainly affected by the news that I had been found cancer free.”
Jeanneret doesn’t know exactly what to expect when the puck drops on Saturday, but he believes that starting off slow is the right move.
“I'm approaching Saturday's game with a great deal of trepidation, and just hope I'll get stronger and better with each ensuing outing. Success would certainly help to wipe out some of the recovery memories, as did the incredible reaction of the fans before the Edmonton game.
“One period seems right to begin with, and I'm hoping the stamina will be there to get me through it. “