Archive for October, 2007

Captain November

Scene: Coach Lindy Ruff is sitting in his office with Assistant Coach (and super hottie) James Patrick.

(bubblebubblebubble.)  (Lindy Ruff takes a huge bong hit.)

Lindy:(holding smoke in) So, Jimmy.

(long exhalation, creating huge cloud)

Lindy: (lower voice) We have to choose a captain for November.

(hands bong to J.P, who takes a long rip.)

James: Oh, that’s right. Is it November already? (stares blankly off into space for a few minutes.) Who’d you have in mind?

Lindy: (giggling) We could give it to Toni. Heehehahhe.

James: HAHAHAHA! Can you imagine?! Hehehhhehehe. heheahhaha!

(five minutes of laughing ensues)

Lindy: (wiping tears from eyes) No, seriously though. I want to give it to Toni.

James: Hehehe. Really? Why?

Lindy: I want him to learn to lead. I like the kid. (Takes bong hit. Exhales.) Plus, it’ll be funny as hell.

James: (giggling) Sounds good to me. (long pause) If only Chris Drury could see us now!

Lindy: (gleefully) Ah, fuck him. This is gonna be awesome.

**********

I would once again like to declare my unbridled LOVE for the rotating captaincy. I could not possibly be more pleased with the thought of Captain Toni Lydman. Do you realize that after every game in November we are going to be treated to Toni’s weirdo assessment of the situation? A solid month of his mumbly, goofy interviews! Of all of the guys on the team, Toni Tone Tony seemed like a pretty unlikely candidate for the “C”. I mean, he had a fairly rough start, he is obviously not a natural leader, and he looks like this. I feel like Lindy Ruff has been reading The Willful Caboose, and now he is making decisions with the sole purpose of amusing me. Thanks Lindy!

(If this month goes well, I am SO pulling the trigger on a throwback Lydman jersey.)

Battle of the Secondary Teams

One of my favorite things about watching secondary teams is finding out that I prefer one random team over another. Why would I prefer the Thrashers over Montreal? Who knows, but apparently I do. Tonight, two of my favorite secondary teams faced off, and I was given the opportunity to discover once and for all: Who do I like better the Minnesota Wild, or the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Penguins

Pros:

- Sidney Crosby. So spunky! He’s saving hockey! He’s a wunderkind!
– Mark Recchi. He’s old and pleasant looking!
– Maxime Talbot. Cutest effing kid ever. I love him. I love his moostache.

Cons:

- Sidney Crosby. He’s playing against my fantasy team this week. Uncool, Sid.
– Petr Sykora. Ew.
– I’m not super into Malkin. Don’t know why.

The Minnesota Wild

Pros:

- Helloooo, I’m from Minnesota?
– I’m going to a Wild game in December.
– I dig how I can’t tell any of the Wild players apart. At first I was annoyed by this, but now I find it sort of sweet it a “Minnesota bland” kind of way. The Wild appeal to the part of me that found Chris Drury (R.I.P.) so very, very fetching.

Cons:

- I can’t possibly be the first person to point this out, but the Wild’s home jerseys make them look like shopping mall Christmas elves. I hate their home jerseys so much.
– Their name is an adjective (or maybe it’s an adverb). Whatever it is, it’s stupid. The Wild is an annoying name for a hockey team.

The Verdict

So, who did I love the most? Which team grabbed grabbed me by the collar and demanded my love?

Neither!

The Penguins are so plucky and fun, but the Wild are my people.

I watched this game and my heart was not swayed. I was happy when the Penguins won, but I was also sad when the Wild lost. I couldn’t choose. I want to love them both.

I guess I’m just a ho.

Rally Beards

I finally sat down and watched Saturday’s game this morning. (In the interest of full disclosure I kept one eye on the muted game while I practiced scales.) Did anyone else notice that none of the guys have shaved in the last few days? I think it’s clear that there is some sort of team “no shaving while under .500″ shenanigans going on. It’s kind of cute actually.

*******

Scene: The Sabres are sitting on the team bus, depressed after the loss to the Hurricanes. The bus is quiet with the tension of their disappointment and frustration.

Crunchy: We’re just not playing as a team.

Timmy: (rolling his eyes) No shit, Sherlock.

Goose: (looking up from his crossword puzzle) Shut up, Timmy. He’s right.

Roy-Z: (nearly hysterical) WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

Pommers: (kneeling, facing backwards on his seat so he can talk to Goose who is sitting behind him) Hey! I know! Maybe we should get, like, super awesome tattoos or something. We could all get Sabres tattoos! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Soupy: No, Pommers. That would not be awesome. Some of us don’t have contracts for next year. If I’m not going to be a Sabre next year, I don’t want a Sabres tattoo.

Pommers: (whimpering) But, Sou-

Crunchy: (loudly interrupting) Be quiet! Both of you!

(long pause)

Roy-Z: We need to think of something that we can all do that will bring us together. Something cool.

Goose: (Yawning and scratching his scruffy face) We could stop shaving until we win a few games.

Pommers: Yeah! Great idea Goose!

Goose: (fist bumping Pommers) Thanks, buddy.

Roy-Z: Yeah. I suppose we could try it.

Timmy: Whatever.

Crunchy: It can’t hurt…………I’m in. Yo-yo, you game?

Yo-Yo: Ja.

Crunchy: (folding his hands) It’s all set then. (pause) Nobody tell Staffy or Sekera.

Pommers: (giggling) You’re mean, Millsie.

Crunchy: Yes.

END SCENE

*********

In my mind, the Sabres relate to each other like a pack of high school girls.

Squeamish

I think I might be too much of a spaz to be a hockey fan.

On Friday night I got home from work, and to my great horror, the Sabres were still playing. The game was 3-2 in favor of the Sabres, and the game was in its last minutes. I turned on the television just in time to see the Sabres take two penalties in a row. I literally couldn’t take the suspense, so I wandered in to the kitchen and did the dishes as I listened to Rick Jeanneret hollering indistinctly over the sound of the running water. I raced back into the living room when I heard something that sounded an awful lot like, “He Scoooooooooooooooooooores!”

After three losses in a row, I was getting too squeamish to watch.

Things feel a whole lot less terrifying after the lovely weekend. On Thursday night, I intend to sit down in front of the television, and take it like a (wo)man.

Awww, Pommers!

Now that we know that Goose is going to be alright, I would like to say, “FUCK YOU, GOOSE! WEAR A DAMN VISOR!” I have no patience for devastating avoidable injuries. I would imagine that a bleeding eye injury has got to be pretty terrifying to experience for a hockey player, and the good news is that Goose seems properly shook up. Maybe he will be scared into using a visor now. Sigh. If anyone finds a picture of Goose online with his eye all swollen shut, looking pathetic and unhappy, please send it along to me. I have long insisted that Goose is actually too handsome; I think a disfiguring injury might cause me to collapse into a full blown swoon. Have your smelling salts available…

I’m sure that by season’s end we will be sick to death of all these commercials, but Pominville has a new one that is delighting me to no end. I love his sing-songy French speaking voice, I love how he stares blankly into the camera, and I love how he somehow manages to look like he has a potbelly. My affection for Pommerdoodle knows no bounds. You can’t get much more adorkable than this!

Can you tell I am avoiding talking about the game tonight? I am officially scared to watch the Sabres. Thankfully, I have to work tonight, so I will be able to avoid the horror of watching them slog around ineffectively if that’s what’s in store. Everyone agrees that the team has the talent to get it done, so we seem to be wandering into some dicey chemistry issues here. In some respects, I am still clinging to the belief that this is exactly what this team needs. These guys are used to winning with ease and I think that’s created some tension between how the team views itself, and the reality of the situation. They need to be motivated to fight harder, and if it takes a devastatingly bad start to light the fire, then so be it. I just get the feeling that these guys need to be broken of their old habits, and then mentally reassembled using old fashioned team work. Let’s hope they have the character to improve.

Good luck, boys!

Secondary Teams

Okay, tonight offers a much needed break from the Sabres. Last night was pretty rough. I realized about half way through the third period the extent of my unhappiness. I was practically grinding my teeth with frustration, and I felt like I was wearing a child-sized turtleneck. Now, I ask you. Is this any way to live?

No.

I love the Sabres, and I love cheering for the Sabres, but I do NOT love having my evening ruined by the Sabres. So, in my misery, I sent a pathetic email to the Ookies. What do you do when your team is sucking?”, I whimpered. Here is Schnookie’s response, reprinted without her permission, and edited to best prove my point:

See, this is where Center Ice comes in, and where loving hockey saved my life. Last year I was furious with the Devils (and Marty in particular) because they were absolutely ATROCIOUS at the start of the season. Just wretched. Putrid. Redefining the concept of sucktitude. But instead of letting myself be strangled, I was like, “Huh. I bet someone else is playing good hockey right now,” and I found the Sabres. And then the Penguins. I rediscovered my ability to love hockey and turn to another team or another good game whenever I was annoyed by the Devils. This is what I love about having the blogosphere now — back in the day, I’d just sit and stew in my unhappiness. Now I have places to go to talk to people who can cheer me up, or find out what compelling and adorable storylines other teams are carrying at that moment. There are 29 other teams! Step back, take a few deep breaths, recognize that the Sabres will, on occasion, stink up the joint, and turn to some team you enjoy just for fun. Maybe it’s Sid. Maybe it’s the Devils (ha!). Maybe it’s the possibility of seeing the Rangers lose. Maybe it’s some random team out West that’s hovering at .500 but they just seem cute. Maybe it’s someone new every night. Whatever it is, there’s so much to love about hockey!

What great advice! Listen, I will never love another team like I love the Sabres. Never, ever, ever. BUT, Schnookie is right. There is plenty to love about hockey, even when the Sabres are being lame. So, rather than dwell on the feeling that the Sabres are strangling me to death, I am going to turn my attention to some of the other teams that have captured my fancy.

In order of my level of interest:

1. New York Rangers: I believe I’ve mentioned this one or two thousand times, but I hate the Rangers. Without a doubt, my favorite thing other than watching the Sabres win, is watching the Rangers lose. The Rangers have delighted me with their slow start, but they could pull it together at any time, and I intend to pull the plug on this fixation at the first sign of life from my favorite team to hate.

2. New Jersey Devils: (avert your eyes, Sam) My affection for the Devils stems entirely from my affection for the Ookie sisters. I have been happily digesting a steady stream of Devils posts over on IPB for the last few months, which has lead to a comfort level with the Devils that I don’t have with any other non-Sabres team. I’m familiar with this cast of characters, and I like them very much. I know that the Devils supposedly play boring, defensive minded hockey, but that has not been my experience with them so far this season. They’re, um….not really in control of the games often enough to be killing hockey in their current incarnation. (No offense, Devils. You know I love ya.) I’m told the Devils are always pretty good in the end, so I look forward to watching them this season.

3. L.A. Kings: This is a hard one to explain. Rudy Kelly over at The Battle of California is seriously hilarious. He’s so hilarious that I have started to like his team. So, there’s that. I think it’s safe to say that I don’t care very much about my secondary teams winning. The Kings are totally welcome to lose all they want, I just kind of like them regardless. I liked them in London, and I like their hideous uniforms, and I like how they play late at night so if I can’t sleep I can watch the end of their games. I don’t know why, but I’m a Kings fan.

4. The Minnesota Wild: I’m a native Minnesotan and I really want to love The Wild, but I admit it’s not coming naturally so far. First of all, they are just WAY too winning. Second of all, they’re a bit of a snooze with their responsible defense and their impenetrable goalie; BUT they do have a few cuties, including their oddly compelling brute, Boogaard, who wears charming spectacles when he is not teaching little kids how to beat each other up. I am attending a Wild game with my dear friend Sam over my Christmas break. I hope to be a fully informed, passionate Wild fan by then.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins are super fun, no doubt about it. I’m not sure why they are not higher up on this list; it might be because they make me feel like a dirty, old lady. Like everyone else, I have mixed feelings about Sidney Crosby the person, but I sure like watching him play hockey- he gets all crazy intense and swirly eyed. Usually around the time I am noticing Sid’s intense swirly eyedness is when I start to feel like a dirty old lady, and that is when I purposefully turn my attention to Mark Recchi who I like entirely because of his Versus ad where he declares that he’s not retiring until they “pry the stick from my dead hands.” Honestly, there is quite a bit to love about the Penguins.

So, there you have my preliminary list of secondary teams. I am sure this list will morph as the season goes on, and I promise to keep you abreast of my non-Sabres interests. The Sabres can make me crazy, happy, frustrated, confused, elated and scandalized, but they cannot make me hate hockey.

One Small Request

Dear Sabres,

I am not here to make unreasonable demands. I don’t think you owe me a President’s Cup, or a Stanley Cup, or hell, even a spot in the playoffs. You guys are what you are, and watching a team lose is part of being a fan. I understand that I have not yet earned the right to really bitch, but I do think that the shear enthusiasm of my sudden fandom is worth something.

Listen, I went apeshit crazy over hockey during the off season for you guys. I started a blog about hockey. I meticulously analyzed your yearbook photos. I gave you amusing fictional girlfriends. I kicked Gray’s Anatomy off the DVR queue so that I have enough space to record your every move (Okay, I probably would have done that anyway. Gray’s sucks ass). I learned all about your CBA, and offer sheets, and free agency. I regularly sit around fretting about Ryan Miller leaving us in 2009. I ardently defend Darcy Regier, and I spit every time someone says “Chris Drury”. I hate the following teams even though they have done nothing to injure me personally during my short tenure as a fan: Rangers, Flyers, Leafs. I joined a fantasy hockey league for Pete’s sake. (A fantasy hockey league, Goose. Me!)

With all of that in mind, I do have one small request:

If you could please save your most miserable losses for nights when I’m working, I would appreciate it very much. If you are going to be hugely frustrating, please do it on a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday. Sometimes, if we are rehearsing with the chorus, I work on Thursday night, but not very often. If you want, I’d be willing to email you my work schedule so you can plan accordingly.

F.Y.I, today is a Wednesday. (Or, as I hope to call it in the future, Winsday.)

Please, don’t make me take a second job. I’m lazy, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Thank you very much for your consideration,

Sincerely,

H. R. M. Katebits

The Girlfriends

Nearly everyday I get hits from people searching for things like, “Jason Pominville girlfriend,” and “Derek Roy girlfriend”. I feel badly that my website is such a poor source of information for these internet sleuths. Clearly, there is a need for information about the wives and girlfriends of hockey players, and clearly my site is not providing my readership with the information they so desperately seek. In an effort to keep my readers informed, the TWC interns have been furiously researching this exciting topic.

If you have ever wondered, “Just who are the Sabres dating?”, your wait is over. TWC has the answers.

Of all of the girlfriends, Derek Roy’s was the easiest to track down. We caught up with her in the classroom in Williamsville where she teaches scrapbooking. Her name is Barbie, and she and Derek have been together for two years. They met at Soho on a magical night in 2005. “I’d had a few drinks!” admits Barbie, “But we didn’t hook up that night, I swear! ” Barbie says that she and Derek have plans to be married in the Spring of 2011, just as soon as Derek picks out the engagement ring. When asked to comment, Derek said, “Barbie? Yeah, she’s fun.”

Math is HARD!

Ales Kotalik has been dating Princess Beatrice of Brattenburg since 1824. Their courtship has been interrupted several times by persistent rumors that the two families are plagued by hemophilia and that a match between them would lead to certain sickliness in the royal line. “We feel that any damage done to royal European lineage would certainly be offset by the degree to which our union would further the cause of world peace,” Princess Beatrice told TWC through a spokesman.

Ales and Beatrice just want to be together.

Jason Pominville’s live-in girlfriend is the three-year-old (that’s twenty-one in dog years) chew toy, Squeakers. Squeakers was a gift from teammate Ryan Miller after Jason’s 2006 shorthanded playoff goal ended the series against Ottawa. Squeakers and Pommerdoodle enjoy hide-and-seek, rough housing, and napping in the sun.

Hands off, guys! She only squeaks for Pommers!

Ryan Miller has been dating a cactus named Josie since late April. “After the playoffs were over I realized that life can’t be all about hockey, you also have to make friends and influence people, so I started dating Josie. Josie is great. When I first met her she was a little distant and off-putting, but since then she has really blossomed. Jo really digs my photography and we just have a lot of fun together. I think it’s important that everyone has someone special with whom to share the meaningful moments in life. Josie is very grounded and undemanding, but at the same time she is very supportive. I’m a fortunate guy.”

Josie only needs to be watered twice a month.

Paul Gaustad has been with the same girl, since he was seventeen-years-old. When asked about the pressures of maintaining a steady relationship while living the glamorous life of a professional athlete, Goose replied, “Love is the foundation of a relationship, standing in front of the net is the foundation of my career, and balance is the foundation of my life. Sure, it’s a lot of hard work, but being in a good relationship is worth the effort. Sometimes, because of the lifestyle, feathers get ruffled, but I am very loyal to my wonderful girlfriend, Miss Foxy Gander.”

Goose likes fat chicks.

***************

So there you have it, ladies! All the news that’s fit to print about your favorite player’s favorite girl!

The Learning Curve

So, here we are, a few weeks into the season and here’s a summary of what I’ve learned:

1. Goose holds his pants up with tape.

2. In recognition of the fact that I am a very, very, new fan, I won’t say too much about it, but my initial experiences with a trap defense have been very annoying. I don’t think I mind a low scoring games, but hugely BORING low scoring games? Ew. In my mind I can imagine a fast paced game in which very few goals are scored. That can exist, right?

3. Jochen Hecht doesn’t open the sides of his mouth when he speaks which causes him to look like a duck when he talks. The jury is still out on whether this is cute or irritating. Today I’m leaning towards “cute”.

4. Overtime is only five minutes long. Who knew? Heh.

5. I love to hate the Rangers. Almost all of my despair and rage following Chris Drury’s departure this summer was directed towards the New York Rangers. It’s not logical, but there you go. I knew I would enjoy it if the Rangers stumbled out of the gate, I just didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy it. Second to watching the Sabres, watching the Rangers lose is my favorite game in hockey. I realized how much I enjoy watching the Rangers lose when I found myself cheering for the Islanders against them. Just a few days prior, the Islanders had humiliated the Sabres and still, I was all, “GO, MIKE COMRIE! GO!”. Cheering for Mike Comrie is a mighty testimony to my hatred of the Blue Shirts. On any given night I have my pick of a whole stable of appealing secondary teams on my Center Ice roster, but until the Rangers start winning, they’re my second “favorite” team.

6. The handsome guy I thought was Simon Gagne, is actually Jason Smith.

7. I wasn’t so sure at first, but I love our rotating captaincy. The Sabres clearly have some leadership issues to be ironed out. I am thoroughly looking forward to watching how this all shakes out over the season, because from where I sit, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious choice for the “C”. I love that Lindy is taking his time and that we get to witness the process.

8. Good seats are totally worth the money.

9. I don’t really mind missing games because I work on weekend nights. I am happy to watch a DVRed win the next day, and I don’t mind missing the losses.

10. I don’t care what anyone else in Buffalo thinks, I love Alexander Ovechkin.

The Boringest Game With the Funniest People

While some might say last night’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets was, “slow” and “painful”, I’m going to disagree, and declare the game, “leisurely” and “dreamlike”. I don’t feel so much like I attended a game as I feel I attended a zoo filled with hockey players. On Monday I was only vaguely aware of the men playing hockey because I was so engrossed in the action, but last night the incredibly disorganized hockey playing was akin to listening to your good-looking neighbors having a heated argument; mildly interesting, but largely unpleasant. At no point in the game did it seem as if the Sabres were going to score, and at no point was I thinking “Wow, these Blue Jackets are really good.” The game just slogged on and on; but the good news was that, even when the Sabres are listless and uninspired, they are still pretty compelling when viewed up close. Just saying.

It turns out that good seats go a long way while watching your team get shut out. On Monday night we were sitting in fabulous seats that provided a view of the ice almost identical to the one you see on most television broadcasts, but on Friday we saw a full game of powerplay cam. The delightful thing about powerplay cam is that for much of the game, the puck and the players are skating straight at you, close enough to startle you as they slam into the glass. The glacial pace of the game provided for plenty of opportunity to observe various details.

Non-hockey highlights included:

-We went to dinner at Chef’s mostly because it has a long history of attracting hockey players. All I can really say about Chef’s is, “whoa”. While the food was pretty lame, the atmosphere was fairly amusing, and even though we complained loudly about Chef’s for the remainder of the night, I’m glad I finally got a taste of this Buffalo institution. (Dear Buffalo, you need a better institution. Love, Katebits)

-Heather arriving with a variety of signs, one of which explained “Pommerdoodle” was so, so, so, SO funny. (Dear Heather, I’m sorry I was too embarrassed to stand behind the “Tally-ho” sign. I think that the fact that I had just eaten at Chef’s was negatively effecting my moxie. Love, Katebits)

-I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ryan Miller fussing over a little hole in the ice near one of his goal posts. He fretted, and poked at it, and squirted water on it, and circled around it during all the breaks in the action. Finally, he had one of the dudes with a snow shovel poke at it for him. Even that didn’t seem to satisfy old Crunchy. I think I could see a little thought bubble over his head that said, “There is a little hole in the ice right there. I can still see the hole. OMG, look at the hole. I wonder if I poke at the hole if it will go away. Goddamn it, that hole is annoying. Ryan, just ignore the hole. It’s fine. Life can’t be all about smooth ice; sometimes there are holes. I can’t wait for this period to be over so I can go down to the other net. What if there’s a hole down there too? I can still see the hole. Hole, hole, hole, hole, hole. I hate that hole. Why does there have to be hole right there? Fuck, here comes Rick Nash.”

-The little boys in front of us desperately trying to get on the jumbotron. Their strategy was two-fold: One of them took his shirt off and twirled it over his head for the entirety of the third period, while his friend held a large bucket of popcorn poised over his head, I assume to be dumped out in the event they made it onto the big screen. I think the loudest I cheered during the entire game was when they finally did end up on the jumbotron, only to forget their popcorn dumping scheme in the heat of the moment.

- Max is not my favorite Sabre. Toni Lydman and Goose are my favorite Sabres. Goose holds his puffy hockey shorts up with a belt made out of clear tape. I found this beguiling, to say the least.

- Teasing Schnookie about Ryan Miller’s Game Day playlist was infinitely amusing. The Sabres are doing this thing where they play songs chosen by the players during the game. At the beginning of the evening, the jumbotron told us that tonight was Crunchy’s night to play DJ, but it didn’t inform us of his particular choices, leaving us no option but to insist (to Schnookie’s great displeasure), that each and every musical selection was lovingly selected by Crunchy himself. If the music heard last night is any indication, Crunchy has really bad (and suspiciously gay) taste in music. Heh. Q: Would a GAY MAN put the Pointer Sisters on a playlist? A: Yes.

- After the game, we got into a traffic jam the likes of which I have ever witnessed in Buffalo. I’m not being bitchy or sarcastic when I say that this was one of the funniest parts of the evening. We howled with laughter as we inched along, comparing the pace of the traffic to the pace of the game, and analyzing every detail we could recall. You know you are with awesome people when a traffic jam is incredibly fun.

This has been such an great week. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to live hockey than the Sabres, the Ookies, and Heather provided for me. The internet, Dear Readers, is a wonderful place, but the real reward of blogging is meeting the incredible human beings on the other side of the computer. Hooray!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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