It has been a somber past 14 hours in Western New York, as news of the passing of legendary Buffalo Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret has been made known to fans.

Jeanneret passed away at the age of 81, as the Sabres confirmed the news in social media posts late last night.

Jeanneret called Sabres games for over 50 years; at first on the radio and then by the mid-90's, both TV and radio. His calls are the stuff of legend. He was the voice of the Sabres and the voice of professional sports in Buffalo. Jeanneret was the Sabres. His influence on multiple generations of fans in Western New York cannot be underestimated.

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Nothing was ever scripted for RJ. He matched the level of emotion for fans with every call -- whether it was a goal or a save; even a fight (Steve Shields vs. Garth Snow or the Ottawa brawl in 2007).

There's no doubt that the Sabres organization will honor Jeanneret next season but fans in Buffalo did not wait. They have already started a memorial for Jeanneret outside KeyBank Center.

Jeanneret is going to get a statue outside of KeyBank Center one day. The French Connection got one and to me, RJ meant just as much as any player that ever played for the Sabres.

So many of us tried to emulate his calls when playing ice hockey or street hockey with our friends. Some kids wanted to be play-by-play announcers because of Jeanneret.

It's a sad day for Sabres fans but also should be a day (and weekend) or remembering the great calls and celebrating RJ.

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