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The Sabres Hockey Network is the official radio and television broadcast network of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. The network is currently operated jointly by the Sabres and by Entercom Communications.
Rick Jeanneret is the network's play-by-play voice and has served in that capacity since 1971, with Harry Neale currently serving as color commentator. Mike Robitaille fills in as commentator when Neale has other duties or is ill; if Jeanneret is ill or has the night off, Kevin Sylvester handles play-by-play while Neale and Rob Ray split color commentary. In the 2008-2009 season, former Phoenix Coyotes broadcaster Curt Keilback covered for Jeanneret during the team's western road trip. In the 2009-2010 season, the Sabres did not send their television broadcast crew on the western road trip and used the local broadcasts of the Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks as the "home" broadcast.
The radio network's postgame show is hosted by WGR personality Brian Koziol. Mike Schopp and Chris "Bulldog" Parker host the pre-game show, which airs only on WGR. On television, there is no pregame, and the postgame show, entitled The Shootout, is hosted by Kevin Sylvester, Rob Ray and Mike Robitaille. (Prior to 2005, the television pregame-postgame shows were simulcast on radio. The postgame was known as Hockey Hotline and hosted by Robitaille, first with host Brian Blessing and then Josh Mora.)
The theme song for broadcasts, since 2005, has been "Hurricane 2000," an orchestral arrangement of the song "Rock You Like a Hurricane" recorded by the Scorpions and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on the album Moment of Glory. Only the instrumental portions are played.
Current Radio NetworkEdit
- WGR 550 AM Buffalo, New York (flagship station)
- WCMF 96.5 FM Rochester, New York
- WROC 950 AM Rochester, New York (regular season games only)
- WKSN 1340 AM Jamestown, New York
- WMXO 101.5 FM Olean, New York
- WBTA 1490 AM Batavia, New York
- WDOE 1410 AM Dunkirk, New York
The Sabres Hockey Network airs on MSG Network throughout Upstate New York; the team and network are contracted for 70 games, with the play-by-play and commentary simulcasted over video. The other 12 air only on the radio half of the network, including all games broadcast on the league's national outlets. Games against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders or New Jersey Devils (other hockey teams to which MSG owns TV rights) will carry the Sabres Hockey Network feed on the Secondary Audio Program of MSG or MSG Plus in New York City and the surrounding areas. MSG and the Sabres have an agreement to carry Sabres games through 2016.
On DirecTV, channel 638 (and 638-1 for HD games) is used exclusively for Sabres games.
In the past, single games were sold to one of the Buffalo broadcast stations (WGRZ-TV, WIVB-TV and WKBW-TV), usually games played on Saturdays. This has not happened since MSG took over the broadcast contract.
Games carried by Versus, NBC, and CBC Television are not produced by the Sabres, and these television broadcasts are not considered to be part of the Sabres Hockey Network. The network produces "radio only" broadcasts for its terrestrial affiliates when a Versus or NBC game airs.
Personalities, past and presentEdit
Rick Jeanneret, TV and radio play-by-play
Harry Neale, TV and radio color commentator
Rob Ray, studio analyst and bench reporter
Kevin Sylvester, studio host, fill-in play-by-play
Mike Robitaille, studio analyst
Danny Gare, fill-in studio analyst
Ted Darling, TV play-by-play (1970–1991)
Dave Hodge, radio play-by-play (1970–1971)
Jim Lorentz, color commentator (1981–2007)
Danny Gare, bench reporter (?-2004)
Brian Blessing, studio analyst (1995–2004)
John Gurtler, TV play-by-play (1991–1995)
Pete Weber, TV play-by-play (1995-1997)
Josh Mora, studio host
The Rochester situation is unique in that a different station carries regular season games than in the postseason. This is because WROC has a much weaker AM signal, and the network switched to FM station WBZA to maximize coverage during the postseason. In 2008, with Entercom's purchase of WCMF, Sabres games moved to that channel instead.
Since 1997, the radio play-by-play has been simulcast on the station's cable partner (Empire Sports Network from 1997 to 2004, and MSG Network from 2005 to the present). Prior to this, Ted Darling was the team's television play-by-play voice, though he was forced to retire due to Pick's disease in 1991. John Gurtler did TV play-by-play from 1991 to 1995, and Pete Weber handled those duties from that point until 1997. Unlike most shows on MSG Network, the Sabres control all television broadcasts of their games.
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