Archive for September, 2011

Sabres Tickets For Sale

If you, or someone you love, would like to buy Sabres tickets from me, please take a look at this page, which I have added to the Sabres menu bar.

If you’d like to buy any of the games listed, please email me at willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thank you for shopping at Katebits’ Ticket Emporium! Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

Something Random and Fun

Look at this! It’s Guy Boucher conducting the Florida Orchestra as they record a new anthem for the Lightning! And the whole orchestra is wearing jerseys!* It’s the cutest thing ever!

My friend Andrew plays in the french horn in Florida, and he reported that Guy Boucher was “one of the more charming conductors I’ve worked with.” (To be fair, most conductors aren’t that charming.)

I happen to know of a certain Buffalo-based orchestra who would be quite eager to work under the baton of Maestro Ruff. AND we just rehearsed the hard part of Sabres Dance the other day, so we’ve got that ditty all spiffed up and ready to go. Call us, Lindy!

*The jerseys remind me of a funny story from the limo excursion. After we dropped off Vanek and Ehrhoff at their cars, John Sinclair had their jerseys folded up on the seat next to him in the limo as we drove back to the arena. I became quite curious about those jerseys. I asked a ton of questions about the jerseys and what would happen to them next (“Is there, like, a closet somewhere in the arena where you keep jerseys that you use for promotional stuff?” “Is that jersey technically now considered ‘game worn'”? “Is there any chance Vanek every wears that jersey again?”) juuuuust in case the answer would be, “These jerseys will probably clutter up my office for the next two months. Why? Do you want them?”

Sadly, “Why? Do you want them?” was not the answer.

7 Things

1. I had the MOST fun hockey day yesterday. I wandered down to the arena in the morning with the intention of cashing in on Slug Appreciation Day, but I quickly realized that not standing in those lines was worth at LEAST the amount of money I would’ve saved had I waited. (It should be noted that I intended to buy a hoodie that was already on sale, so my savings for standing in line for an hour would’ve only been in the $10-$15 range. It’s not like I was planning to buy a $200 jersey. THAT probably would’ve been worth the wait.) So, I sacrificed my opportunity to buy a cheap hoodie, and I plopped down in the arena to watch practice and a scrimmage.

2. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: open practices are the B-E-S-T. You get to see all sorts of ridiculous stuff, like Darcy skipping down some stairs, and Miller strutting around, all “cool guy on campus,” and dozens of baby-faced Sabres prospects that you don’t recognize in the slightest. (Related: The Sabres are being kind of top secret about the practice/scrimmage schedule this season. In past years I feel like they’ve published a complete training camp schedule online. This year I can’t find anything on their website.)

3. Last night I attended the Sabres/Canes game. As most of you probably know, the Sabres won due to the extreme feistiness of the Gerb/Gaustad/Kaleta line, and a good time was had by all.

4. I was kind of nervous and excited about going to the arena last night because it was my first chance to see my new seats.

OUR NEW SEATS ARE FANTASTIC! When we were offered the chance to move (a giant, ETERNALLY GRATEFUL thanks to Jessica in account services for hooking us up), we didn’t have very many options. That whole “99% season ticket renewal rate” they’re always celebrating means that there just aren’t that many seats available. The tradeoff for escaping the dreaded gate at the end of our row meant that instead of row 20, we’d have to move much closer to the glass. Sitting low is kind of a double-edged sword. Row 8 provides a super awesome view when the action is directly in front of us, and a super weird view when we’re looking through the glass at action on the other end of the ice.

All this AND a women's bathroom at the top of the aisle.

Last night was my first chance to actually watch hockey in our new seats and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I LOVED the view, I LOVED being on the shoot-twice side, and I LOVED not being trapped behind a gate! Everything that felt “wrong” about the old seats felt “right” about these. If you ever catch me whining about these new seats, feel free to pop me in the kisser.

5. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love Ville Leino. Of all the players on the ice last night, I found him to be the most compelling. Every time he was out there, I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. Maybe the Toni Lydman effect was really just a Finnish thing? I dunno. Only time will tell, I guess.  On a non-hockey note, I find Leino’s ability to instantly morph from kind-of-hideous to fully-handsome (depending on the angle) to be QUITE compelling. I’ll admit, I was always really aware of him when he was a Flyer too. I think just really like that guy.

6. How about those Billz, huh? I’m an admitted Bills bandwagoner (I lose all interest in them when they suck), but I absolutely adore happy Bills fans. I’m happy when you guys are happy, and I certainly can’t complain about the entertainment value of the first two Bills games. Go Billsies!

7. The picture I took of Vanek and Ehrhoff in the limo last week is now posted on Thomas Vanek’s personal website. His website does not link here, but still, that miiiiight be the pinnacle of hilarious weirdness. I mean… whoa.

Hey, Gabby! You win!

Congratulations to Gabby, the winner of the Leafs @ Sabres tickets for Saturday night! Gabby, please email me so that I can arrange to get the tickets to you this week. Yay!

 

What Might Have Been

I think I was pretty well-behaved during the limo event on Wednesday, but I did have one privately experienced moment of kooky Kate-ness during the drive.

At one point towards the end of the afternoon, I put my sunglasses in my purse and when I did, I was reminded that I’d brought Post-Its and a Sharpie along. (The reason I had Post-Its and a Sharpie in my purse is uninteresting and irrelevant, but I’d like to be clear- I never had any intention of asking anyone for an autograph. I miiiiight’ve been hoping that Ted Black would let me put a Post-It on his lapel that said, “Hello, My Name Is, Monsieur Homeslice Sir Rocks-a-lot,” but I digress.)

Anyway, I saw these Post-Its and I suddenly had a perfect vision of what I would do with them if I were living in “Kate’s Whimsical Dream World” instead of “reality.”

For a few brief seconds I daydreamed about surreptitiously taking out the Post-Its, writing a big “C” on one of them, quickly slapping it on Vanek’s jersey, and then before he realized what was happening, I’d take a picture of him.

I'll get you with this C in my dreams, Thomas Vanek.

These are the types of things that flash through your head when you’re riding in a limo with Thomas Vanek.

The Sabres: Just Like FedEx, Only Waaaay Better

Sometimes life is weird, you know?

Today I spent the afternoon driving around in a limo with Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek.

Man. I don’t even know where to begin this story.

No wait, yes I do: From the very bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank Sabres.com for inviting me to join Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek as they delivered tickets to season ticket holders today. I feel so fortunate to have been plucked from the thousands and thousands of wonderful, loyal, enthusiastic, and deserving Sabres fans to have this experience. The Sabres have recently been making some truly awesome moves to include non-traditional media in their events, and they seriously knocked this one out of the park. Thank you, Sabres!

_____________

On Friday last week the Sabres emailed me to ask if I wanted to “tag along” when the Sabres delivered tickets to a few lucky season ticket holders. The email conversation pretty much went like this:

Sabres: Do you want to tag along when we do this thing?
Katebits: I want to do that more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life.
(End Scene)

In the initial email we really didn’t get a lot of information about the event, so I spent the entire weekend speculating with Heather (who was also invited) about what exactly we’d be doing.  Heather’s favorite scenario was that Lindy would drive us around in a gigantic van full of Sabres all day. My favorite scenario was that somehow I’d end up in a car with Goose, Pominville, and Miller, and at some point we’d turn up the radio and have a loud singalong, preferably to the song “Rolling In the Deep.”

Yesterday, things came into a little bit more focus when I was told I’d be riding in a limo with Tyler Myers and Ville Leino. I know. A limo! With Tyler Myers and Ville Leino!

“I bet those guys know ‘Rolling in the Deep’ too,” I thought. “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE MOST FUN EVER!”

_______

I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous about almost everything as I headed down to the arena. A variety of panicky thoughts raced through my head: What if I embarrass myself? What if the Sabres hate me? What if Tyler Myers wants to open the sunroof of the limo so he can stick his head out like a giraffe, and this makes me laugh so hard that I have a coughing fit? What if Ted Black turns out to be only 99% awesome instead of 100% awesome? What if Ville Leino arches his eyebrow at me and I temporarily lose the power of speech? What if I somehow offend everyone and ensure that no bloggers are ever taken seriously by the Sabres ever ever ever ever ever ever again? OMFG, WHAT IF I LOOK STUPID IN THIS OUTFIT?!

Well, it turns out that driving around Buffalo in a limousine with Sabres is much like everything else in life. You almost never worry about the right things.

After hooking up with our fabulous and helpful Sabres liaison (and being told that Myers would not be available and that he had been replaced by Gerbe), Heather and I were ushered outside where there were lots of cameras and limos. I’d relaxed a little bit by this point, mostly because there are only so many times you can fret about your outfit before it gets boring. And besides, things were getting pretty interesting.

That’s when the players came out. Now, not to sound like a total goober here, but seeing a big crowd of Sabres in street clothes is really something. Honestly, my first instinct was just to stare at them. I don’t mean this in some sort of creeper way, I just mean… the Sabres are interesting in real life. I wanted to memorize what they were all wearing, and who was taller/shorter/skinnier or goofier in person than expected. But I didn’t have long to stare at them because almost immediately they popped into limos and everything got kind of confusing and suddenly I was all, “Hey, which limo do I go in?! I thought you said I was riding with Gerbe and Leino… I’m riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff? Whaaaaat?”

So, after I spent a day meticulously plotting to charm Myers and Leino into telling me all their funniest secrets, suddenly, I was going to be riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff.

For reasons that were explained to me but that I didn’t try hard enough to understand, Vanek and Ehrhoff met us in a parking lot out near Transit Road instead of driving out there in the limo. This was fine by me because it gave me a chance to bond with Carl (the limo driver [Hi, Carl!]) and also to ask John Sinclair (VP of Tickets & Services) some of my burning questions about the event.

SPOILER ALERT: My “burning questions” about the event were mostly related to my concerns that one of the people’s houses would be messy when Terry Pegula suddenly popped by.

Here’s a picture I took from the limo before Vanek and Ehrhoff got in. Vanek is being interviewed by Lorey Schultz from channel 4. Lorey and her camera guy followed our car to every stop, and Lorey was super duper nice.

This picture makes me laugh a little bit. I was basically hiding in the limo, waiting for them to join me in the limo. I think this picture demonstrates how I was both scared of hanging out with these guys and intensely curious about them.

Here’s the thing about meeting Sabres in up close, personal situations. There was one part of my brain that was all, “OMG, this is the weirdest thing that has EVER happened, EVER. Thomas Vanek is sitting RIGHT THERE, two feet away from me. Seriously, this is CAH-RAAAAZY.” And then there was another part of me that was just like, “Oh, hi Thomas Vanek!” Although I’d obviously never met him before, Thomas Vanek felt like a basically familiar person. That was very interesting to me. Christian Ehrhoff was an actual stranger (in that I haven’t been watching him play hockey for many years), so meeting him was really just like meeting anyone. Well, not quite like meeting anyone. It was like meeting someone that you know you’re going to start a ten year hockey relationship with next week.

I introduced myself to them as “your blogger for the afternoon,” which didn’t seem to faze either of them in the slightest, and we were off!

From the very beginning I was impressed with Thomas Vanek’s relaxed and open demeanor. My mental image of him is so tortured, but seriously, he was downright breezy in the limo. We chatted about Minnesota (I’m from Minneapolis), and the differences between Buffalo winter and Minnesota winter (When I confessed I’ve always wondered if those sun lamps work, because I hate the constant gray of Buffalo winters, he suggested that we put a huge bubble over Buffalo with a giant sun lamp inside), and how it’s hard to feed twins (he actually held up his arms and pretended to shovel food into two babies mouths simultaneously).

Christian Ehrhoff was a little more reserved, but then again, I didn’t “know” him ahead of time, so maybe I just didn’t ask the magical questions that could’ve prompted him to mime feeding his babies. Perhaps in three years on Ticket Delivery Day I’ll know juuuuust enough about him to carry my end of a totally breezy conversation with Christian Ehrhoff. (I did find out that he played the piano for a handful of years as a kid and that he’s got a piano in his house now. That was intriguing.) I can report that Ehrhoff seems super sweet, and a little shy, and he’s cute as a bug’s ear. Really. I wanted to pinch his dimpled cheeks.

The thing I determined right away in the limo was that I had NO desire to try to pepper these guys with a lot of questions for the blog. I write like a fan, and I wanted to experience the day like a fan. Plus, it was quickly apparent that while they would of course dutifully answer any questions I had, they probably weren’t super eager to give me lots of hilarious footage of themselves being goofy and effing around. These guys were mega, MEGA good-natured, kind, and agreeable, but, they were also at work. This realization was sort of awesome, because I relieved myself of my “media” duties, and I decided to just go with the flow. I took one posed pictured of them in the limo, and then I put away the phone.

I can highly recommend driving around in a car with Sabres. All sorts of hilarious and interesting things happen:

- At one point I asked the guys if they’d ever played together before, and John Sinclair immediately said, “The better question is have they ever played against each other?” This led to them reminiscing about a game they’d played versus each other in the AHL where the Amerks definitively beat Ehrhoff’s team. (I want to say they mentioned it was in Cleveland. Does that make sense with Ehrhoff’s history?) It was really interesting to me how they both seemed to remember the game very specifically, right away. Ehrhoff laughed and said, “I think I was a minus 5 that game.” Heh.

- They were both kind of grumpy about having to wear their jerseys, which makes sense when you think about it, but surprised me to realize. When I commented on this, Vanek said, “Yeah, but I’m REALLY glad to be back to this,” and then he grabbed the circle emblem on his jersey with both hands and lifted it up off his chest. “I did not like the slug.” Then he said something about how he always really liked the original Sabres logo as a kid. This, of course, warmed the cockles of my heart. Then Ehrhoff said, “The third jerseys are nice too.” Vanek seemed to agree that those jerseys were sharp, but he didn’t have a strong opinion about the quilting on the numbers, which I confessed I don’t like.  Hearing players discuss jerseys the same way fans do was a hoot.

- All three of our stops were corporate sponsors instead of individual houses. It was SUPER fun to see people react (some of the receptionists’ confusion was kind of priceless, actually), but it didn’t quite pack the emotional wallop that I imagine you’d get out of delivering tickets to a longtime season ticket holder’s house. When I commented on this to the guys in the limo I said, “I think we should find some little kids for you guys to interact with!” And Vanek joked, “Why? Is this not blog worthy?” I thought it was super funny that he had “blog worthy” on the tip of his tongue. I assured him that, “Oh no. Don’t you worry. This is definitely blog worthy.”

- The deliveries ranged from “totally great” to “A FREAKING HOOT”. We stopped at three offices. Ingram Micro, Great Batch, and LoVullo. All three stops were very fun, and it really was interesting to watch people light up when they saw the Sabres. On a personal note, it was also funny to realize that I probably looked like I was a part of their normal entourage. I found myself in various office lobbies wanting to yell, “I don’t belong in the limo with these guys! I’m not one of them! This is a TOTALLY weird day for me! I’m just like you people! CAN YOU BELIEVE I’M DRIVING AROUND WITH SABRES ALL DAY?!” But I didn’t.

These metal boxes were a source of much jealousy and longing for me today. The suite tickets come in these boxes, but I assure you, the regular seats DO NOT. I totally, totally want my tickets to come in one of those boxes. At one of the stops, Vanek held one up and said, "This WOULD make a good change holder..." and I was all, "I KNOW." Here, Christian Ehrhoff dutifully holds up the box when I tell him, "Make sure the box is really visible."

- One of the highlights of the day from the “HAHAHAHAHAHA! Category” was Vanek bitching about a $1500 phone bill he got after a Canadian roadtrip even though he TRIED to get the Canadian data plan. I’m not sure why it amused me so much to hear a highly paid athlete grumbling about a bill (and it’s not like $1500 is small potatoes, even when you’re rich), but it did. When he was telling the story of the fiasco, he turned to me and said, “I bought a Canadian data plan ahead of time that included [some number of data bytes which I don’t remember because both the number and the unit of measurement are meaningless to me], but I don’t even know what that number means… do you know what that means?” I was all, “Hell if I know what that means, Thomas Vanek.” So he continued, “And so, when I went in to complain about the bill, the guy in the store told me that my data plan was big enough to cover me visiting, like, five websites. I’d only bought enough for ten minutes on the internet.” And this is when I started to inwardly laugh and laugh and laugh. It tickles me to no end that this bothers him enough to tell this story months later. Also, for the record, Thomas Vanek does not take kindly to airline baggage fees.

- I found it very difficult to address them by their first names, but calling them by their last names seemed weird too. I eventually coaxed a few “Thomas”es and “Christian”s out of myself, but it was hard. I have no idea why calling someone by their first name would feel so awkward, but it did.

- At the last stop, LoVullo, the bosses there had clearly given the employees the green light to come on down and pose for pictures. The Sabres were extremely good-natured about this, so much so that LoVullo is where I fell in love with them just a tiny bit. They probably took pictures with at least a hundred people, posing in groups of 5 or 6. The reason it was so charming is that they shook hands and introduced themselves to every single person. This is the one part of the day that I REALLY wish I’d thought to record on video, because for about fifteen minutes you just heard, “Hi, I’m Christian” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” Over and over and over again. It was incredibly endearing. There’s just something very sweet and unassuming about introducing yourself to people who are lining up to get your picture. This was truly the highlight of the day for me.

"Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas."

-After the last stop, they both IMMEDIATELY removed their jerseys, and then they BOTH folded them up into tidy rectangles. I’m not sure what was going on with that (maybe some sort of tidiness-peer-pressure?), but it was cute.

______

I’m sure I’ll keep remembering little things from the day, and when I do, I’ll post about them here. Maybe we should just consider this, “Sabres Ticket Delivery Day: Part One.”

For now, I’ll just end this post by saying, again, thanks SO MUCH to Sabres.com for having me today. This was really, truly a wonderful experience. Another thanks to Carl the limo driver for his masterful limo-driving-skillz, and John Sinclair, who was a super fun guide for the afternoon. And of course, a million thanks to Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff who were both incredibly generous, kind, and engaging with me today. We are lucky to have them both in Buffalo.

Tickets! Tickets! Step Right Up and Get Your Tickets!

WOOOOOOOOOO! Look what I picked up today! The season tickets are gigantic this year, and they’re not bound in a book. The tickets come in a tidy stack, all tied up with a Sabres sash. I like these tickets better than last years tickets because they feature a prominent picture instead of being 95% covered in gobbledygook (“gobbledygook” being, “words”).

Here, this life-size Spiderman displays the enormousness of the new Sabres tickets. Aren't they swell? And huge? Also interesting: That's Brad Boyes' face on a ticket for a game that won't occur until late February 2012. That's a mighty bold prediction, Sabres graphic artists!

Speaking of tickets…

This year, as part as the season ticket package, season ticket holders had to buy both preseason games. If I remember correctly, in past seasons the Sabres gave us one game for free, and we had the option to buy the other game.

I usually enjoy the preseason games, mostly because it’s my first chance to head down to the arena, watch some hockey, and drink a big beer. It’s a nice way to ring in the new season, but it’s not exactly great hockey. I’m really looking forward to attending one preseason game, but two in one week feels like overkill. I’m guessing a lot of season ticket holders feel the same way, which is why I anticipate a lot of preseason tickets going to waste this year.

I hope every season ticket holder takes the time to make sure their tickets find a good home. You know who probably doesn’t care at all about the differences between preseason hockey and regular season hockey? Little kids.

So, consider this an official call to action. Season ticket holders, if you’re not going to use your preseason tickets GIVE THEM AWAY! Find someone who will use them. It’s really not that hard. In my experience, if you say to someone, “Hey, do you want these free Sabres tickets?” they will usually say, “Why yes. Yes, I do.” If you can’t find anyone to take your tickets, you can donate them through the Sabres website, OR, you can give them to me, and I will give them to a lucky reader.

_____

The Preseason Ticket giveaway, and how it shall work.

I have two tickets to the Sabres vs. Leafs game on Saturday, Sept 24th that I don’t plan to use. If I scrounge up any extra tickets from other STHs, I’ll also give those away.

Here’s how you enter the contest:

Leave a comment on this post that says, “Please enter me to win the tickets.”

In a week or so, I’ll draw a name out of a hat, and someone will win the tickets.

FINE PRINT: If you want to make me happy (but not increase your chances of winning in the slightest), please feel free to also tell me how pretty and/or charming I am in the comment of this post. Money and gifts will also be accepted, but (regrettably) will not increase your chances of winning the tickets. Failure to find me pretty and/or charming will be highly frowned upon, but will carry no penalties regarding this contest. If you are a Leafs fan, you are eligible to win the tickets, but only if you wear a Sabres jersey, cheer for the Sabres, and conceal your disgusting Leaf-y tendencies in every single way. Failure to comply with the rules contained in this fine print is punishable by death. That’s right. Death.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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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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