Archive for July, 2009

Ghost Town

tumbleweed

The silence is getting spooky.

I’m starting to suspect that everyone in the Sabres organization died weeks ago.  (Well, everyone but the web designers, that is.)

We’re all going to show up at the arena on opening night only to find a bunch of skeletons sitting on the bench in full hockey gear, covered in cobwebs.  Then, someone will roll out the Darcy Regier skeleton so that he can tell us, “We’re excited about the season.  We think we have a strong core group.  This season will be an exciting opportunity for some of the younger guys to make the leap from Portland.”

Then, we’ll all turn to look hopefully at the teeny tiny Gerbe skeleton.

Football?

I remember being surprised at this time last year when Buffalo got all, “Yay, football!”  It seems so early, but fine by me.  I like football.

Best of all is that in my experience, after football, comes hockey.  Sweet.

Looking Good

This picture appeared in a recent Puck Daddy post in which the Sabres were used as an example of a team that broadcasts the same audio feed for both television and radio.  (We like our Rick Jeanneret around here.)

Picture 1

Cute!

Now, this hilarious-era picture of Rick and The Gang is fun in and of itself, but it was the object in the background that stopped me in my tracks.

latchhook

Do my eyes deceive me, or is this broadcast team posed in front of a wall mounted, original Sabres logo latch hook rug?

Magnificent.

Max is Special

Now that I know he’s out of our hair, I’ve been feeling a flush of Max Afinogenov appreciation recently, and so it was with some interest that I followed this link to a translated Russian interview.  (Thanks to Vance from Bangin Panger for the link, via his Twitter feed)  The article is interesting, both because Max was famously tight lipped during his time in Buffalo, and because the translation is hiLARious.

Say what you want about him, but Max Afinogenov was a Sabre for ten years. When I first started watching hockey, for a long time he was the only player I could identify by his skating style alone.  Even as much as I loved Drury, nothing about his playing was particularly gripping to me as a new fan.  But Max? Max was electrifying and captivating, so much so that he was my original Favorite Sabre.

I missed Max’s hayday completely, and even in spite of the the funk that he’s been in for the entirety of my fandom, he has been without question, the player most capable of captivating the crowd at the arena.  Even when we hadn’t seen him score a goal in months, a buzz went through the crowd every time Max touched the puck. I’m really going to miss that next year.

I don’t think Max conveys as well on television.  In order to truly appreciate him you need to see the entire ice surface, and you need to have two full teams of players to watch in comparison.  Even when the Sabres sucked the hardest, I was always happy rooting for Max because no matter how bad he was (and he was BAD), he was always interesting.  Rooting for him felt like I was embracing the absurd.  Sure, I knew without QUESTION that he was ultimately going to turn the puck over to the opposition after skating it all over tarnation and before even taking a shot (I don’t think I ever saw Max score live), but damnit, I also knew without question that the Sabres were toast regardless of Max.  If the loss feels inevitable, I want to at least see a flash of pizazz and a blur of flailing limbs.

In the end, at the arena I watched Max almost separately from the game.   There was the game, where I could expect normal hockey plays and the potential for goal scoring, and there was Max, where I could expect NO goal scoring, but instead be treated to some variation of amusing trickery and misplayed tomfoolery.  I’m not sure why I never fully turned on Max, but I think it’s because I always always always found myself delighted by him at HSBC.  To me there is something inherently endearing about Max’s style, particularly live.

I don’t know what happened to Max.  The style of the game stopped favoring his brand of speediness, and obviously his relationship with Lindy deteriorated.  He’s all but useless now, I realize this.  But in spite of all his many and obvious flaws, I’d love to see Max have success in the NHL again.  I wish him nothing but good luck and well wishes, and I’m grateful that I got to see him play as a Sabre.

Good luck, Max!

Very Boring Times

Without the Olympics and Crunchy’s contract to tide us over, this off-season is SO much more boring then last year.

The only thing I can think to dwell on is Drew Stafford, and even I can’t get myself too worked up over him.  I mean, I suppose I hope they sign him, but frankly I’m feeling very uneasy about how similar next year’s team is likely to be to last year’s team.  If Staffy has to be the sacrificial lamb in the name of “change,” so be it.  At this point I’m pretty confused about Staffy’s value to the Sabres, and I’m worried that he and Lindy just can’t make it work.  Maybe it would be best for all parties to set Staffy free. (Free to play hockey elsewhere, not free to roam the land eating whatever brains he happens upon.  Heavens, no.  Staffy must be contained.  The only question is…where?)

Like I said, boring times.

NHL Patches and Minnesota North Stars

From time to time I look in on the goings on over at Uni Watch.  I am by no means a connoisseur of “athletic aesthetics,” but I do appreciate a well designed jersey.  (My favorite NHL jerseys are the Canadiens darks and the Bruins darks.  If I had been a fan of hockey when they still existed, I would have been a Whalers fan just because of their jerseys.  I don’t understand why everyone loves the Blackhawk jerseys so much.  I think those jerseys are flat out ugly, not to mention a little racist around the edges.)

To put my level of interest in athletic aesthetics in perspective, I’ll admit that I’ve never been terribly horrified by the slug.  Sure, it’s goofy and not even remotely dignified, but whatever, at least it’s not the goathead.  The goathead was terrible in every way.  Every. Way.  When I hear people bitching about the slug, especially if they are over a certain age, I always think, “You survived the switch from the original jerseys to the goat head. How could the slug POSSIBLY be causing you this much pain?”

But I digress.

I encourage you to hop over to Uni Watch to spend a few minutes looking at NHL jersey patches.  The Uni Watch guy has pulled many interesting patches off a website called…wait for it….NHL Patches.   I found navigation of the original site to be a little cumbersome, so just start with Uni Watch.

I’ve never given jersey patches much thought, except to notice how they frequently mussy up an otherwise nice uniform, but it was fun to click through these bad boys.

I also learned something interesting which is that the Minnesota North Star apparently adopted the current Dallas Stars logo while still in Minnesota.  I didn’t know that.  The North Stars have become increasingly interesting to me lately.   Many times I’ve tried to adopt the Minnesota Wild as my secondary team (maybe it will get easier now that Lemaire is gone), but it’s never really stuck. I think one of the reasons I don’t connect to them is because they didn’t exist when I was a child.  The Wild simply were not a part of my childhood consciousness….but the North Stars were.

I didn’t grow up watching hockey, but as I’ve learned more and more about the league before my time I’ve experienced a interesting bout of retroactive love for the North Stars.  I did grow up as a fan of the Twins and the Vikings, so I am familiar with the seemingly genetic attraction one feels to a team you grew up watching.  Hockey is starting to feel more ingrained in me and although I don’t recall ever having watched a single North Stars game, some dormant Minnesotan in me has gotten more attached to them as my “childhood team”.  Had I been a hockey fan growing up, I would have been a North Stars fan (and Gophers, of course).  Today, for the first time ever, while looking at that North Stars 25th Anniversary patch, I felt a small pang of resentment very similar to what I feel when I look at pictures of “No Goal”.  It’s a difficult feeling to describe.  It’s not exactly a pain I can claim as my own, it’s just a part of my inherited pride.

It’s interesting that I have two inherited resentments towards the Dallas Stars for incidents that occured with two separate teams long before I even became a fan of the sport.  I wasn’t even aware of it for the first 30+ years of my life, but the Dallas Stars and I have been locked in an extremely slow moving epic battle for decades.

Current score:  Stars 2, Katebits 0.

Stay the Course

Katebits: Darcy, did you know that Clarke MacArther’s arbitration hearing is tomorrow?

Darcy Regier: No, Katebits.  I did not know that.

Katebits: So, are you trying to sign him, or what?  And what about Stafford and Sekera?

Darcy: What about them?

Katebits: Well, they’re RFAs.  Do you have a plan for them?

Darcy: *shrugs*

Katebits: Um, Darcy….we don’t really have any new players, you haven’t made any trades, and our RFAs are mostly unsigned.  What exactly have you been doing all summer?  Besides LIVE CHATS with Kevin Sylvester, that is.

Darcy: Well, I went to the I-talian Festival yesterday.

Katebits: Me too!  I ate Italian sausage and kettle corn.  (pause)  Seriously, though.  What about the RFAs?

Darcy: Oh, whatevs.

Katebits: That’s your plan?  “Whatevs?”

Darcy: Yup, pretty much.

The end

Two Things I Love

1. Apparently, I love it when the Wienermobile crashes into things.

Wienermobile

Sweet.

2. I love it when cats play the piano and then some composer nerd turns it into a legitimate piece of music.  I found this video via OriginalCrotchetySam’s Minnesota Orchestra blog, Inside the Classics.

This video might fall into the category of, “If you don’t like this, I’m not sure we can be friends”.  I’ve watched it three times already.

I’m going to fight the urge to explain in great detail all the many reasons why I love this video.   (You’re welcome.)

It combines three things I love.  Music, cats, and someone with waaaaaaay too much time on their hands.

2 Things: Schopp and the Bulldog Edition

1.Yesterday afternoon Schopp and the Bulldog had one of the most intelligent and logical conversations about Lindy Ruff that I’ve ever heard in the Buffalo media.

As everyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I’ve been harping on the Lindy issue for many months, but one thing I’m still not sure I’ve ever adequately expressed is that my real interest isn’t in seeing Lindy fired.  For me, the most compelling thing about the Lindy conversation is….the actual conversation.

Hearing a radio show where the callers were essentially challenged to make arguments that go beyond the endless repetition of “He’s one of the best in the league,” and “It’s all Larry Quinn’s fault” and “He’s doing the best with the players he’s got” was extremely refreshing.  Extremely. And the callers came through with intelligent responses. (FOR REAL.)  That was the part of the show that really blew my mind.  A guy called in, and defended Lindy with keen observation and a total lack of sentimentality.  I’m not sure I’ve EVER heard someone do that before.  It rocked, and it made me think about the Lindy issue a little differently.

The case for or against Lindy isn’t clear cut.  There’s quite a lot to discuss once we are operating in a conversational environment where Lindy isn’t in some bizarre blameless bubble.  All I really know for sure is that if Larry Quinn is the devil, and Lindy Ruff is a saint, the conversation is useless because it’s pure fiction.  By clinging to these cartoonish characterizations, we’ve been opting out of discussing the Sabres in any meaningful way.

I’ve been perplexed and frustrated that much of the main stream media in Buffalo has (until very recently) appeared to value Lindy’s quotability over reasoned, critical analysis.   Blogs have been clawing at this issue for awhile, but it’s the main stream media that can really effect the tone of the large scale conversation.  There are two perfectly reasonable sides to this story, and if both are approached with levelheadedness, we can elevate the level of dialog.

Hooray!

2. In addition to interesting Lindy conversations, Schopp and the Bulldog have been talking a lot about the impossible pipe dream idea of Martin Biron returning to Buffalo as Crunchy’s backup.  There are a couple of good arguments to be made in favor of this plan, but the most compelling one is something I hadn’t thought about until Bulldog brought it up.

Ryan Miller is almost certainly going to the Winter Olympics this year.  He might even be the starting goalie.  What are the chances that our high-strung, underweight, prone-to-exhaustion, little scarecrow of a goalie can handle the extra workload with ease?  Yeah…I’m thinking not good.

We need a better backup, and Marty Biron ain’t got no job.

Body Worlds: Hell No, I Won’t Go!

A group of my friends are going to see Body Worlds at the Science Museum tonight.  I was originally going to go with them until I suddenly and abruptly realized that I am totally creeped out by the pictures of that exhibit. In theory I think it’s a cool idea, but I am almost positive that if I were in a room with a bunch of skinless bodies in weird poses….I would have many resultant nightmares.  I feel like a bit of a wuss about Body Worlds, but the fact that I get the heebie-jeebies from the billboard on the 190 tells me I should just stay away.

Despite my clear distaste for Body Worlds, I can’t stop talking about it with everyone.  Ranting about Body Worlds is, like, my favorite thing to do this week.  I’ve found that people are either enthusiastically looking forward to seeing Body Worlds, or they are 100% opposed to the concept.

A slightly inebriated conversation with some friends yesterday about Body Worlds led to this exchange:

Kate: I do NOT like those bodies.

Susie: I’m not really freaked out by dead things.  I always thought dissecting stuff in school was quite interesting.

Kate: It’s not that they’re dead (beginning to screech) it’s that they have no skin! And their eyes!  OH SWEET GOD, THEIR EYES!  I cannot deal with skinless people in weird poses!

Christina: That sounds like a Match.com ad…..Must have steady job, good sense of humor, and skin.

Kate: Totally.  I like walks on the beach, movies, cuddling, EYELIDS, AND SKIN.  The skinless need not apply.


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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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