It’s a pretty fair haul to get there. But that’s only one night. It’s not something you can’t put up with. I just think that overall it’s amazing they’ve cut back on so many of the back-to-back games. - Rick Jeanneret
Rick Jeanneret has changed his mind, and that’s great news for Buffalo Sabres fans.
After initially announcing his intention to once again miss a handful of games during the season, the NHL’s longest-tenured broadcaster has decided to call all 82 games of the Sabres’ 2012-13 schedule.
Heading into his 41st year in the broadcast booth, Jeanneret said the decision to work all 82 games wasn’t made quickly. But he slowly started to come around to the idea after putting the schedule under the microscope.
“It took a few days. I had to think about it a little bit. But once I diced up the schedule and parsed it a little bit, I decided that it was pretty darn good. I wish it was something that had been in place in past years. It would’ve made a difference to what I’d done in the past, and probably would’ve done more games.”
Jeanneret, who will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame this fall, explained that many things came into play before making his final decision. Most notably, the Sabres will only play a franchise-low 11 sets of back-to-back games in 2012-13, after leading the league in back-to-backs during each of the last two seasons.
“There were several factors that entered the equation. I guess one is that I feel pretty good. That was number one. Number two – I looked at the schedule and it was the best one I’ve seen in years as far as I’m concerned. You’re still traveling as many miles, and you’re still going to as many games obviously. But by cutting back on the back-to-backers, that’s going to make a huge difference. It certainly played an enormous part in my decision.
“But last year I think I took too many games off, and I recognized that. I really didn’t intend to say that I was going to do them all, but as I looked at the schedule, it started to look a little bit better each time I looked at it. I’ve gotta give Ted Black and company all the credit in the world for coming up with a schedule like this. And I think it’s going to translate into more victories too.”
The only games that stand out to Jeanneret in terms of potential travel difficulty are back-to-back pre-Christmas contests in Calgary (December 22) and Colorado (December 23) – part of a four-game trip that starts in Montreal on December 17. Jeanneret knows that flying 900 miles after a road game against the Flames will result in a late arrival in Denver, but he’s willing to accept it based on the rest of the schedule
“It’s a pretty fair haul to get there. But that’s only one night. It’s not something you can’t put up with. I just think that overall it’s amazing they’ve cut back on so many of the back-to-back games.”
Even if that trip does wear him down, Jeanneret says he has no intention of taking any breaks this season.
“I’m certainly hoping that doesn’t come into play. It was never mentioned.”