Three days from now, Rick Jeanneret will be in Toronto to receive the Foster Hewitt Award for excellence in broadcasting, an honor that is recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame. But if his 92-year-old mother, Kay, had her way, she’d get the party started today.
“She’s pumped,” Jeanneret said today while meeting with the media at First Niagara Center, in the hallway outside the dressing room that honors the team’s history. “I just talked to her a little while ago, and she’s ready to roll. She’d go to Toronto now if they wanted to leave.”
Kay will be part of the family entourage that will bus to Toronto on Monday morning to celebrate her son’s latest honor. In the last few months, Rick Jeanneret has been inducted into both the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame, to go along with his induction into the Sabres Hall of Fame last November. He also received an honorary doctorate from Canisius College in May.
It’s quite a turn of events for the legendary Sabres play-by-play voice, who used to deny all requests for any kind of career achievement awards, saying her preferred to wait until he was retired from the broadcast booth before being feted with such honors. But as time went on, being able to celebrate these events with his mother became the driving force for the NHL’s longest-tenured broadcaster.
“To be honest, when this all started -- and it started with the Sabres Hall of Fame -- it was (Sabres VP of Public Relations) Mike Gilbert who talked me into it,” explains Jeanneret. “I was going to wait until my career was over before I allowed my name to be nominated for any of the Halls. But once I sat down and talked to Mike, and we talked about my mother, we thought that maybe we should do this now while she’s still around and can still appreciate it. Even though I knew that once I accepted one there’d be others. But I’m running out of them now.”
Sabres.com will have full coverage of Jeanneret’s big day on Monday, including video of his acceptance speech. Also follow us on Twitter @BuffaloSabres for live updates throughout the day from Toronto.
Sabres employees were part of a group of more than 150 volunteers who gathered today on the arena floor at First Niagara Center to package 40,000 meals for hungry kids and families in the WNY area, as well as some of the hardest-hit areas of New York City and New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE EVENT RECAP
Working in partnership with the Lutheran Charities of Western New York, the meals were packaged in just over two hours, before being loaded on trucks and sent out for delivery immediately. Locally, 35,000 of the meals will be delivered to food pantries and homes across WNY, while 5,000 meals will be driven to the New York City/New Jersey area to help stock food pantries and mobile soup kitchens assisting in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.