Archive for March, 2009

Rob Ray Has Never Seen Anything So Outrageous in His Life. Seriously. This Takes the Cake.

Oh, Rob Ray.  I love you so.

I can’t begin to imagine what Rob Ray saw that caused this reaction during a Ryan Miller interview, all I know it that it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in quite some time.   I have to assume that it’s pretty hard to shock Rob Ray.  I mean, the guy has spent quite a bit of time in hockey dressing rooms.  Before the FABULOUS Kozyshank emailed me a link to this clip, I would have assumed that Rob Ray had seen it all.

Apparently not.


Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Kozyshank

I’ve probably watched this ten times.  So far it hasn’t grown old in the SLIGHTEST.  I’ll probably watch it ten more times before the night is through.

Obviously something pretty spectacular happened, because as you can clearly see, Rob Ray’s mind = blown.

Here is a short list of things that could have caused Rayzor to make that face:

1. Paul Hamilton and Tim Connolly started making out.
2. Paul Gaustad (who Rayzor had been assuming is a flightless bird) suddenly flapped his wings and perched on top of a row of lockers.
3.  Jochen Hecht started passing around a bong.
4. Tom Golisano entered the dressing room, pulled off his mask and revealed that he’s really Hilary Clinton.
5. Hilary Clinton walked in the dressing room, pulled off her mask and revealed she’s really Mr. Belvedere.
6. Derek Roy walked by naked.
7. Patrick Kaleta walked up to the blackboard and solved the unsolvable physics problem that Lindy put up for the janitor to solve.
8. Toni Lydman transformed into a fighter plane and then back into a defenseman just to mess with Jason Pominville’s mind.
9. The pigeon’s eyes started glowing, but only Rob Ray saw it happen.
10. Clarke MacArthur’s giraffe came by with a post-game smorgasbord of snacks delivered in a little basket tied around his neck.

The Return of Hope

I believe my exact words yesterday were,

If the Sabres win tomorrow in regulation I MIGHT allow a smidgen of hope back into my heart (maybe).

As I’m sure you know, they did NOT win in regulation, but damned if that little tickle I feel deep in my chest isn’t a tiny smidgen of hope.

I was at work tonight, so I had my usual work-night view of the game (saw almost all of the 1st period, and a few minutes of the 3rd), but I have to admit, I’m loving this little end of the season surge.  Sure, it’s nearly hopeless, but it’s also nearly fun.  If these last seven games are the closest we’ll get to a playoff vibe, well, I recommend we take what we can get.

I can’t believe Toni Lydman was a hero while I was at work.

Sabres vs Leafs 3/27/09

Pregame

Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOO!!  You know what?  I’m pumped.  I have found the conversation surrounding the Sabres to be totally invigorating lately.  I know some people look at my attitude and think I’m being grouchy (I was accused of being a negative nelly today in Kevin’s comment thread), but I just do NOT feel grumpy about the Sabres.  At all.  Since I decided that they kind of suck I’ve felt the OPPOSITE of grumpy.  I like hockey again.  I find the conversation about what’s wrong with them to be incredibly compelling, but now it’s minus all the emotional turmoil.  I feel great about hockey, and I love the Sabres.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: Hm….I’m going with Tim Connolly, just cuz.
Prediction: I honestly have NO idea.  Traditionally, the game after an emotional win is when the Sabres phone it in, but Crunchy’s return might give them a nice boost.  Oh, thank GOD Crunchy is back.
Facebook Quiz representing my hopes for this game: Which composer are you?

picture-10I am NOT Tchaikovsky.  Now HE was a negative nelly.

After the 1st (2-0, Sabres)

Mood: Entertained.  Please do not misunderstand (especially you, Hockey Gods), I’m not taking this lead as some kind of indication that we are going to win, but this game feels easy-breezy so far.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: I dunno.  I wasn’t paying close enough attention to notice.
Summary of events: Cujo allowed 50% of the shots he saw into his net.  Crunchy allowed 0% in.  The numbers don’t lie, people.
Facebook quiz representing this game so far: Pick 5

picture-12My five favorite movies.

After the 2nd (4-1, Sabres)

Mood: Deeeeelighted.  Man, the Leafs are fun.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: All of them.  If you CAN backcheck, forecheck, play hard, and look like you give a flying flibberty floo, WHY DON’T YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME?  Jerks.
Summary of events: CuJo was like, “Why, come right in and score at will, Sabres,” and the Sabres were all, “Don’t mind if we do, CuJo!”  Then Cujo was pulled and Pogge was all, “Not so fast, Sabres.”  Then the Sabres were all, “We’re so cute and fast, doncha think?” while the Leafs easily scored a shortie.  Then Crunchy was all, “Oh, now I remember why I hate you guys.”  Then Kate was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOOO! CRUNCHY! CRUNCHY! CRUNCHY!”
Facebook quiz representing this game so far: What color is your aura?

picture-13Facebook says my aura is red but I think I’m probably a little more pinkish.  That business about “will power” and “persistance” is total bullhonky. I, um, have no idea what this has to do with this hockey game.  This post is a stretch.  A true red aura-ed person would never write this post.

At the end (5-3, Sabres)

Mood: Basically pleased.  If the Sabres win tomorrow in regulation I MIGHT allow a smidgen of hope back into my heart (maybe), but I will be sad to see this, “Aw, fuck it, the Sabres just suck” phase go.  It’s been downright therapeutic for me.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: Dude, Toni Tone Tony Lydman.  Stop taking dumb penalties.   Just.  Stop.
Summary of events: The Sabres were all, “Hm.  Maaaaaybe we want to keep coach killing after all.  Let’s let these Leafs back into the game.”  Then Goose was all, “Eff that.  Let’s win.”  And then he did his adorable happy dance.
Snack you should eat as soon as possible representing this game: Wegmans brand Green Apple Sorbet

scrumpshIf you see this, you should eat it.

Everything is New Again

That game was wonderful.   Pure, cathartic joy.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

5 Things

1. Like almost everyone I know in town, I’ve been recently struck down with the cold/flu from hell.  I’m mostly feeling fine now, but I still have a (really attractive) barking cough, so I’ve been taking a cough suppressant at night. When I first got sick I accidentally threw out the little plastic cup that came with the cough syrup so I’ve been using an actual tablespoon to administer my nightly dosage.  Yesterday, when I opened a new bottle (yes, this is a two bottle level illness…sad times), I had a NEW cup, but I had gotten so used to giving myself two tablespoons of medicine each night that without thinking, I slurped down TWO generously poured little plastic cups of cough syrup.  It wasn’t until about an hour later when I was literally stumbling around my apartment and mentally writing letters to the FDA asking HOW they could make such a ridiculously potent drug available for over the counter usage, that I realized I had taken at least TWICE the recommended dosage.  Oopsies.  I’m lucky to be alive, people.  That was a wild ride.  (Actually, I just went to sleep.)

2. I think it’s interesting that the Sabres have spent the last two days defending Lindy Ruff to reporters.  I’m glad that they realize their suckiness is putting Lindy’s job on the line (at least in the eyes of the press).  Maybe the threat of Lindy getting fired will put a little urgency into their game.  I’m not at all surprised to hear they love and respect him.

3. Lindy himself has been asked to comment on the team and the job he’s been doing, which has caused him to say, “I get pissed when my passion is called into question.”  I think a reporter asked him specifically about his passion, so I’m not judging Lindy for defending it, but…..it’s not Lindy’s passion I question.  His TEAM’S passion is certainly questionable, and that’s why I question Lindy’s effectiveness.

4.  I wish that Spacek had another year on his contract.  I think Darcy is going to be under a lot of pressure to make changes this offseason, and so it might be difficult to justify re-signing Spacek, but of all the older defensemen he might be the one I’m most interested in keeping.  I keep hearing Paul Hamilton on the radio all non-chalantly saying things like, “Well, Spacek is most likely gone next year.”  Really?  I mean, I know he’s not perfect, but that, um, sounds a little scary to me.  We kind of need Spacek, don’t we?  Why couldn’t Lydman or Tallinder be free agents this summer?  Why does it have to be Spacek?!  WHY? *shaking fist at sky*

5. I’m going to the game tomorrow.  It’s the last game of the season for me.  Even though I’ve been complaining mightily about the Sabres recently, I’m sorry to see another season go.  I love going to the arena, and it’s sad to realize I’m most likely done for awhile.

Brave New World

I can’t TELL you what a shift in perception I’ve gone through with the Sabres in the last two weeks.  It’s amazing!  Basically, I suddenly have this long term view that I really didn’t have before.  Last week, if the Sabres lost, everything was terrible.  That was the beginning and the end of the story.

But now….it’s different.  It’s partly different because I don’t see any easy way out of the current sucky situation (besides firing Lindy, but I seriously doubt that’s going to actually happen).  I think the best we can hope for is that Darcy gets fired, which I just don’t see translating to much change on the ice, at least not for awhile.  No matter what, this team needs big time change.  I’d LOVE to be wrong about this, but unless something pretty drastic happens in the coaching/management arena, we might be looking at a few years of mediocrity.

Oddly, I’m not that freaked out.

Here’s why:

1. It’s kind of a relief to stop worrying about the dumb old Sabres all the time.  For two years we’ve all been pulling our hair out trying to understand this team.  Why aren’t they winning?  WHAT’S wrong with them?  Blah blah blah blah blahblahblah.

They suck!  That’s what’s wrong with them!  The management is kind of sucky, the coaching is kind of sucky, and the players are kind of sucky.  It’s just suckage, all around.

Am I the only one who feels liberated by this?

Remember back before it became a book and a movie, that episode of Sex in the City when Miranda first learned the concept of “He’s just not that into you” and it really DID make sense?  That’s how this feels.  Like, OOOOOOOh, they’re just sucky.  So, I should stop analyzing every single thing they do, because none of it really matters?  They’re just SUCKY.  Huh.  Well, okay then.

2. At the game on Friday, I started thinking about how it would feel to go to games that weren’t sold out.  What if there was lots of room to spread out, and you could sneak into much better seats than you had paid for?   That….might be TOTALLY AWESOME.  I mean, even if the Sabres really suck, they’re still playing hockey, and there will still be big beers at the game.  I really wouldn’t mind being able to put my jacket on the seat next to me and my feet on the chair in front of me.

3. I might actually be able to get season tickets.

4. The playoffs are just so stressful.  It’s kind of nice to have a whole little second hockey season without the Sabres.

5. Okay, I know that last one was a bit of a cop out.  I DO want the Sabres in the playoffs again.  I do.  Which leads me to my next point, which is that the Sabre WON’T suck forever.  They just won’t.  Maybe this group will find a way to pull it together, or maybe it will be the next generation of Sabres who will stop the suckage, but sooner or later, we’re going to get some relief from this mediocrity.  I promise.  There might not be dozens of Cups in the history of the Sabres, but it’s not wall-to-wall suckage, either.  The day will come when the Sabres don’t suck.

6. And when that day comes, and the Sabres stop sucking, it will be sweeter because of this time we are in right now.  I am a new fan, but I am not a bandwagon fan.  I am earning my stripes right now, and so are you.   Someday, when the Sabres are good again, we can pat ourselves on the backs for being badasses who loved the team even when loving them was difficult.  We are hardcore, and we are awesome.

It’s Chris Butler Appreciation Day!

Okay, I know that this is a rough time to be a Sabres fan, and lord knows I haven’t been lightening the mood with my four day I-WANT-THE-MOST-POPULAR-MAN-IN-BUFFALO-TO-LOSE-HIS-JOB-athon, but tonight, I ask you to join me in setting aside our petty Sabres frustrations.  Tonight, we must celebrate Chris Butler.  We must do it with genuine enthusiasm, and we must do it with joy and love in our hearts.

It’s Chris Butler Appreciation Day! *tosses confetti*

To explain:  This evening, along with 18,690 of my closest friends I trudged into HSBC Arena to watch the team I love take on the Flyers.  You all know the results.  It was pretty brutal.  I attended the game with Heather B, who is always good company, so in spite of the game, I still managed to have a good time.

One interesting side effect of my resent Sabres-related disgust is that I seemed to have reached some type of tipping point.  I think it happened after the Atlanta game.  I just don’t have any more rage, or frustration, or sadness to devote to the Sabres this season. I’m all tapped out.  I really don’t think these guys can hurt me again until October.

BUT, as it turns out, I still have a little joy in the tank.  I know!  Weird!

I had a genuinely good time tonight.  I had fun when the Sabres scored, I groaned when the Flyers scored, and Heather and I had a good time ragging on the team.  It was fun.  (And it really wasn’t until the third period that the Sabres fully tanked, so we got two solid periods of entertainment before things got ugly.)  Anyway, it was a relief to realize that I can still go to the arena, and enjoy hockey, and hang out with my friends without taking every single game so effing seriously.  I’ve let go, and I feel so much better as a result.

So, there we were, fifty-nine and a half minutes into the game with our good spirits intact.  The Sabres were losing 6-3, and as the final seconds ticked away, out of nowhere, they scored.  Obviously, this was a totally meaningless goal, and to their credit, the Sabres on the ice barely reacted.  There were no triumphantly raised arms, there were no fist pumps.  Heather and I actually couldn’t figure out who scored the goal from the replays on the jumbotron, and because of the lack of reaction on the ice, we couldn’t tell from the players either.  We just figured that it was nothing goal.

Well, as I’m sure you all already know, that was not a nothing goal.

That goal, scored at 19:58 in the third period was Chris Butler’s first NHL goal.

That. Sucks. So. Hard.  Just when I think think I’ve escaped any further Sabres pain….they suck me back in.

POOR CHRIS BUTLER!  His first NHL goal came in the final seconds of THIS game?!  The fans, were literally BOOING the team at the time that he scored his first ever goal.

The fact that his first goal occurred in these circumstances is NOT COOL, and Chris Butler deserves better.

One of the things I have meant to do literally all season, is write a post in praise of Chris Butler.  I really like this kid.  He’s so bright and articulate in interviews, and for a rookie, he’s really done a nice job this year.  No, he’s not perfect, but in a season brimming with dull hideousness, I really think Butler’s been a bright spot.

For MONTHS now I’ve been meaning to sing his praises, and to encourage my younger readers to adopt him as a possible crush-worthy Sabre.  He’s a little dopey looking, but in a cute way.  Plus, he’s got Kirby Puckett’s jersey number which probably means very little to you, but to me, #34 is a good sign.

I FULLY endorse Chris Butler, and I give him the coveted TWC, “Cutie Pie Stamp of Approval.”

chris-butler1

Approved

After he scored, he had to do the mature thing.  He couldn’t celebrate, he couldn’t even raise his arms in surprise.  Nothing.  He had to continue skating forward, emotionless.  (And for the record, I give him a lot of credit for pulling it off.  Mark that down as another reason to love Chris Butler: “Has the maturity not to make an ass of himself celebrating personal accomplishments while in the context of a team failure.” Check.)

So, today is Chris Butler Appreciation Day!  Today we honor this fine young gentleman who was cheated out out of a celebration that he truly deserved.  Let’s forget about the game, and Lindy, and the playoffs, and focus on Chris Butler.  A first NHL goal only comes along once.  Chris Butler may not have been able to celebrate on the ice, but we can now, on his behalf.

Chris Butler, we salute you!

Lindy and Buffalo

“We think, and many people think, that the town needs to win a major sports championship, to correct the inferiority complex in the psyche of the community.”

-Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, NY

This quote from Byron Brown was part of the Sports illustrated article about Chris Drury a few years ago.  When I first read it, I was taking my very first baby steps towards Buffalo sports fandom.  Of everything I read in that article, this is the thing that stood out most to me, and it’s a quote that I have returned to many times since I first read it in 2007.  At the time, I thought it was preposterous, even scandalous, that our mayor would say such a thing.  The idea that we MUST have a championship to correct the inferiority complex in the psyche of the community seemed downright unsightly, and certainly inappropriate for a mayor to admit out loud.

In the two years since then, I’ve come to read this quote quite differently.  It no longer seems embarrassing, or preposterous, or scandalous.

Now, it just seems honest.

________

I’m pretty shocked at the degree of passion I feel over the FIRE LINDY RUFF issue.  It’s not that I passionately want Lindy to be fired, it’s more that I feel as if a lightbulb has flickered on above my head, and suddenly I’m all, “Duh.  Lindy Ruff should be fired.”  The trouble is, very few other people have had this revelation, and for the most part, I find myself ranting alone.

I assure you, it has not gone unnoticed that very few of you are rushing to agree with me in the comment threads.  I know you hate this topic, I know the majority of you don’t agree with me, and I know I am risking alienating a lot of my readers by continuing to harp on this issue….but I can’t stop myself.  I feel strongly about this, and the more I think about it, the more strongly I feel.  Just bear with me for one more post.

I don’t want to argue that Lindy is a bad coach.  I don’t think he’s a bad coach.  All I’m arguing is that he’s getting bad results, and that I think the Sabres should consider firing Lindy.  I’m not even sure I think they HAVE to fire him, but I am sure that it should be on the table as a perfectly reasonable option.  Firing the coach should be on the menu of things we hear about when people discuss the Sabres on the radio and in the newspaper.  That’s all.

But that’s NOT all, because Buffalo has an incredibly strong love for Lindy Ruff.  This fanbase loves Lindy more than we love any one player.  We love Lindy.  He’s important to us, and he’s important to this community.  I’m not discounting that love in the slightest.  I love Lindy too.

On one hand, this attachment to Lindy is incredibly moving.  It’s loyalty, it’s gratitude, it’s respect, and in an interesting way, I think it’s a tribute to how we as a community want to be viewed.  We love Lindy, and we want him to represent us.  I think that’s beautiful.  I can think of very few people I’d rather have representing Buffalo than Lindy Ruff.

But on the other hand, I also think our attachment to Lindy Ruff is a symptom of a deeply rooted problem.  It’s a city-wide inability to let go of some romantic notion of how we want Buffalo to be, and meanwhile, we’re neglecting a whole host of other serious problems.  It’s as if the entire city is enchanted by some mirage, and because of that glimmering illusion, we won’t settle for anything less.  It’s a symptom of whatever it is in our makeup that makes it so difficult to build a much needed new bridge, or a fishing mega-store, or to downsize the government to match the actual size of the population.

I think there is something going on here that runs much deeper than sports.

Whether or not you agree with me that it’s time for a new coach, I think it’s very hard to dispute that this is a conversation that could have started a year and a half ago.  If we had been thinking critically, we would have started this conversation a year and a half ago.  The fact that the entirety of the sports media has been virtually silent about this speaks volumes.  In my opinion, we’re not just reluctant to have this conversation, we’re downright scared of it.

I think Buffalo needs to take a hard look in the mirror and we need to prioritize winning.  And not just in hockey.

I’m not talking about prioritizing winning in some make-believe, warm and fuzzy, Lindy-holding-the-Cup-over-his-head-in-HSBC way.   It’s time to prioritize winning in the forget-the-romantic-ideals, make-the-hard-choices, and get-the-job-done….WINNING way.

I know that this is just hockey.  I know that we fans have no control over any of it, and I know that some of you will think I’m seriously stretching the parameters of a sports blog by writing this post, but I guess I just had to say it.  From the beginning of my romance with the Sabres, above all else, I’ve been drawn to how this town is shaped and effected by its relationship to sports.  I think there are direct sociological lines that can be drawn between how we approach sports, and how we approach the future of our city.

In no way am I suggesting that we should “demand more” from the Sabres- that’s foolishness- but until this week, it was nearly taboo to criticize Lindy Ruff in this town.  Until this week, I had never heard Lindy criticized in the paper or on the radio, ever.  That means something.  We should notice that, and we should think about what that says about our willingness to change and evolve in Buffalo.

Whether or not you agree that Lindy Ruff should have a job for life, this conversation is worth having.  It’s good for us.  It’s good to discuss change and seriously examine our options, and it’s good to question the status quo.  It’s healthy.

And in that way, this conversation is about much, much more than hockey.

_______

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

4 Things About the Lindy Debate (and then I need a break from this topic)

1. Today I heard Howard Simon say (and I’m totally paraphrasing), “Lindy reams these guys out after EVERY GAME, he yells at them, he makes them sit through long video sessions, he drills the fundamentals, he never lets up. And then night after night, they come out flat and with no effort.”

When I heard Howard say all that I was thinking, “Exactly.  Lindy’s lost the room.  They are tuning him out.  Nothing he says is getting through.  His message is stale.”

And then Howard finished his thought by saying, “So obviously, it’s NOT LINDY’S fault.  Lindy is doing his job.  IT’S THE FAULT OF THE PLAYERS.  They’re not listening!”

I guess don’t think it matters whose fault it is.  To me, the only point that matters is that Lindy is ineffective.  I thought it was interesting that Howard Simon thinks all the evidence points to Lindy being awesome, and I think all the same evidence points to the Sabres desperately needing a new coach.

2. I believe change is good, and I think we Buffalonians are too resistant to change.  I wrote a lot about that in the comment thread from my last post, so if you want to read more about it go here.

3. It’s been such a relief to hear Mike Schopp and Mike Harrington squawking about Lindy this week.  I think it’s absolutely bizarre that our local media, who is SO critical of the Sabres is so many other ways, treats Lindy with such kid gloves.  The gloves are begining to come off, and even though it’s painful in some ways, I think the conversation about the team can be a lot more honest now.  Even if Lindy has job security for life, he shouldn’t be treated as untouchable in the Sabres dialog anymore.

4. I would say, in general I’m really, REALLY not a FIRE-THIS-MAN-RIGHT-NOW kind of gal.   Calling for the head of a man I respect and admire has worn me out, so I’m going to bed. Goodnight, SabresNation!  Sleep the deep sleep of fans who had the day off from watching their team play.  Maybe tomorrow it will all be better.  Zzzz.

It’s Time

Well, at least they’re not half-assing it.  They’re not just bad, they’re horrifying.

If I were the GM of the Sabres, I would fire Lindy Ruff.  Not because I think he’s a bad coach, but because he’s obviously a bad coach for this particular team, and this is the team we have signed for the next four years.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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