Archive for October, 2011

10/30/11

The Concert Gods spared my from having to watch the game last night (Thank you, Concert Gods), so I didn’t see the wreckage of the Sabres’ third period with my own two eyes. BUT, let me assure you Sabres fans, your despair came through loud and clear on Twitter.

Is the despair justified? Are we all just being gigantic spazzes? Should we just chill? Sometimes when I miss a game I find myself a little confused. What’s the right way to feel about the Sabres? Like every cerebral sports fan, in times like these, I turn to statbits to clarify the situation. Emotions are messy, but numbers? Numbers don’t lie.

Let’s crunch the numbers and find out how we should feel about the Sabres right now.

According to my calculations:

3 iffy late-game penalties +  bad defense + STFU, Nathan Gerbe + Bills in Toronto + bad goaltending + Ryan Miller haters gloating on twitter + Wait… they didn’t even get a point? + mental fragility + The damn Leafs are still winning + SERIOUSLY EFF YOU, MARCO STURM = crankiness all around.

There you have it, Sabres fans. Last night was a bad scene. I think everyone in town should just allow themselves to wallow for a day. Let’s all eat some mini-candy bars, and pray for a Bills win.

We’ll reconvene back here tomorrow to reassess the situation.

Down the Line

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start analyzing the Sabres until they’d played ten games, but I can’t hold myself back because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I just want to line the Sabres up, and walk down the line, ruffle their hair one-by-one, and tell them each why I love them so. You know what?  That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I doubt the actual Sabres are willing to stand in a line for me, so you’ll just have imagine the hair tussling.

____________

The Sabres, presented in the order in which I think of them, which is probably a pretty good indication of the order of their awesomeness:

Thomas Vanek- Thomas Vanek, I’ve written many, many, many times about how incredible it is to watch you when you’re “on”. You’re just spectacular. But this season feels a little different. You seem so joyful out there. Joy is the one thing that has always been missing from your game. I’ll admit, your visible frustration on the ice has always made me a tad hesitant to really believe in you as “The Guy.” I’ve been joking for YEARS that you need therapy, and I’m starting to believe that maybe this summer you finally got some. (And just FYI, if I were running a professional sports team, sports psychology would be a requirement for every single player on my payroll, so, my insistence that you get therapy is really nothing personal. I only bring up the therapy with you because of all the Sabres, historically you’ve seemed to be the most crazypants. I guess that part is a little personal.) At any rate, as I wrote last night on Twitter, when you’re cool, everything’s cool. So, keep up the good work, and do whatever your therapist says. That guy/lady is a genius.

Jason Pominville- Jason, you’re a Sabre who I’ve always loved unconditionally, so it’s super fun to see you being all captain-ly and top-line-y. I don’t know how you do it, but you are the only hockey player I’ve ever seen who somehow manages to look adorable no matter what you’re doing. That’s a compliment (of course).

Ville Leino- Last night was extremely good for our relationship, Ville. After your pretty pass to Pommers for the goal, I wasn’t just happy for me, I realized I was genuinely happy for you. That doesn’t happen with every goal (for example, I don’t think Derek Roy has ever scored a goal that made think, “Oh, I’m so happy for Roy-Z!” His goals are just the garden-variety, “Hooray! The Sabres just scored and this makes me, Katebits, feel joy in my heart). Ville, I want you to be an awesome Sabre, and I feel extreme confidence that you WILL be an awesome Sabre, so just hang tight, buddy. You’ve got this. (Also, you and McCormick were strangely good together last night. That was weird, thrilling, and totally unexpected.)

Ryan Miller- *fist bump and chin nod of eternal respect*

Drew Stafford- How you doin’?

Tyler Myers- *gets on a step-stool in order to ruffle Tyler’s hair* Hey there big guy! You seem to be either totally awesome or totally terrifying. Last night you were totally awesome and it was really good to see. Just try to be awesome most nights. But don’t worry. The team is better this year. Not everything will go straight to hell if you have a few bad games in a row.

Christian Ehrhoff- I love how you shoot, and I also like how your lips always look like you’re wearing a tinted lip gloss.

Luke Adam- Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Welcome to Buffalo, kiddo! You’re doing great. Just keep working hard, and when in doubt in the gym or out on the town, do what Goose does. Speaking of Goose…

Paul Gaustad- HONK! Goose, I’d like to encourage you to casually undress in the background of all your teammates’ interviews.

Andrej Sekera- You’re probably my favorite skater on the team. Good job.

Brad Boyes- Um, this is a little awkward. Usually Darcy’s trade deadline acquisitions are gone by now, but… you seem to still be here. Hm…. Oooh, I know! You have a very pleasant-looking face. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, Brad Boyes.

Derek Roy- I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with you but you haven’t looked like yourself yet this season. Maybe you miss Vanek? I’m not too worried because apparently the Sabres don’t really need you to be awesome in order to win games. I have faith that you’ll pull it together soon. And if you don’t, well… *shrug* We apparently don’t really need you to win games! (That might sound a little harsh. Roy-Z, I think what I’m trying to tell you is: don’t get frustrated. When you suddenly get awesome again, it’s just going to make the Sabres LITERALLY UNSTOPPABLE, but for the time being, your atypical-averageness isn’t really doing any harm.

Cody McCormick- You were surprisingly good with Leino last night! Nice job. Everyone in Buffalo likes to root for you already, but if you can be the catalyst for getting Leino on track, I think we might erect a statue in your honor.

Tyler Ennis- Look, Tyler. I can’t lie. I’m a little worried about you. I’m not like, freaked about you, but I’m concerned. You need to tone down the “dipsy-doodling followed by a blueline turnover.” Just tone it down. Also, could you please clarify something? Is this actually you? That looks a LOT like Ehrhoff’s head on your body to me, but after an in-depth twitter investigation, the consensus seems to be that is IS you. I’m still not convinced. Your thoughts?

Jhonas Enroth- YOU ARE AN ELVISH HERO! Most of the time I forget all about you, but every time I remember you I get an incredible burst of confidence. Seriously. You might change everything this season. That’s how important and awesome you are. You might change everything.

Nathan Gerbe- Rock on, lil Honey Badger. Rock on.

Patrick Kaleta- Hey, Patty. You haven’t provoked my ire at all this season. Good job. Every once in a while, I think you’re Vanek on the ice. That amuses me.

Robyn Regehr- I can’t say I have any strong thoughts or feelings about you, but actually, that’s probably a good thing. You seem cool. Thanks for helping Mylers be less spazzy. I’m not going to ruffle your hair because, a.) you’re pretty much bald, and b.) you seem too dignified for such things. I’ll just shake your hand respectfully, instead.

____________

Ah, that felt great! It’s fun to love the Sabres! I’m a little concerned about the future of this blog (nothing kills The Willful Caboose faster than a complete lack of over-the-top outrage), but we’ll make do.  I’m sure I’ll find something to complain about eventually, but for now, I love these little buggers.

The Jaws Of Victory

I used to have a cat named Trixie. Trixie wasn’t the brightest. Once I watched her bat around an ant for a good ten minutes. (Now that I’ve written that last sentence, I’m wondering if maybe this story says more about me than it says about Trixie.) Anyway, eventually Trixie ate the ant and I was all, “Good work, Trix. You got him.”

But then, Trixie looked over at me all wide-eyed, and she stuck out her tongue, and the ant fell out of her mouth and onto the ground.  I kid you not, THE ANT STOOD UP, BRUSHED HIMSELF OFF, AND SAUNTERED AWAY. I think I heard him whistling a little “don’t mind me,” song as he nonchalantly slipped out of Trixie’s reach.

The Sabres reminded me of that ant tonight. I do not know how they walked away from that game victorious, but they did.

(Actually, I do know how they did it: MILL-ERRRRRRRR!)

The Sabre Are RE-HIRED!

Woo!

I don’t have much to say about last’s night’s game other than, “Nice job, Sabre-ramma-ding-dongs!” I mostly wanted to put something a little cheerier up on The Willful Caboose so my post about the poopy Carolina game wasn’t the first thing people see when they wander through here. So, consider this post to be an official proclamation: THE SABRES ARE NEVER GOING TO LOSE AGAIN!

Maybe the Sabres were just confused on Friday because that I wasn’t sitting where they’re used to seeing me sit. I bet that threw them off. Now that we’ve ironed this out, the 81-1 season is BACK ON TRACK!

What’s a Few Shorties Between Friends?

Final Score: 4-3, Hurricanes.

Recap: The Sabres were poopy, and then they lost.

Analysis: I guess the Sabres aren’t going to go 82-0? Yeah… I don’t know. This is confusing. I don’t really get it either.

The Bad News: The Sabres are all fired.

The Good News: With the exception of the Sabres being poopy, I thought last night was a hoot. Robin are so in love with our new seats that we sort of want to marry them. Instead of dealing with a gate at the end of our row, and having no nearby friends, we were surrounded by fun people who were willing to high five us when the Sabres scored. I drank just the right amount of beer, at just the right pace. The “clackers” weren’t clackers at all! They were just big fans that make a really pleasant and not-at-all-annoying swat-y sound when you swat them. (I was FULLY prepared to fire Ted Black over the clackers when I first heard about them. I’m sorry I doubted you, Ted.) My friend Hannah, age 12, texted this hiiiiilarious picture to us from the balcony, and it was so funny that we passed my phone around to everyone in our section so they could see it. My friend Alex gave me a really good suggestion, that I would like to pass along to you: We should all be saving all of our tickets stubs all season long, just in case the Sabres win the Stanley Cup. (It probably won’t be this year, because, let’s face it, the season is pretty much over. The Sabres already lost a game.) That way, when they win, we can make really cool framed displays of all the tickets from all the games we attended the year the Sabres won the Cup. When Staffy scored late in the third, we all get free 6 inch subs from Subway because the Sabres scored 3 or more goals. The “free sub” celebration was short-lived because the Canes are an unstoppable juggernaut (apparently), but it was a celebration nonetheless.  The Harbor Club was extra fun and chock full of fun people. After the Harbor Club we went out for a little while and eventually I was delivered safely home in Jessica’s ultra-chic minivan. Pretty good night.

Next Opponent: The Sid and Malkin-less Penguins.

Prediction: Just don’t give up any shorties tonight. Jeez.

The Locker Room Tour

I’ve been EXTREMELY lucky to have been offered some incredibly cool Sabres experiences in the last few weeks. Honestly, my head is still spinning, and the season has barely even started.

Yesterday, along with the traditional media and a bunch of other bloggers, I was invited to tour the new locker room facilities at the First Niagara Center. As luck would have it, my schedule was free on short notice and I was able to take the tour. While this was obviously an enticing offer from the onset, the experience wound up being so much more interesting than the initial email invitation indicated it might be. In the end, this opportunity was practically a dream-come-true for me, because we were allowed to literally wander around the locker room area, looking at whatever struck our fancy. As this INCREDIBLY LONG post will show, quite a bit about the locker room facilities ending up striking my fancy.

Basically, yesterday was a little like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for me. I got a golden ticket. (Sadly, if there are Oompa-Loompas in FNC, they’re keeping them well hidden.)

Looking good, F'NC! I took this photo as I was walking up to the arena for the tour. As you can see, there is a new outdoor ribbon board, and the old "HSBC ARENA" sign is gone, replaced by... a single "R". I'm assuming the workers who are installing a new "First Niagara Center" sign were rained out yesterday, but personally I think the "R" is whimsical and fun. I think they should leave it like this!

Before I get too far into the description of the arena, I feel compelled to admit that I was pretty intimidated by the idea of joining what I figured would be a well attended media event. I’ve always worn the label “fan blogger” with pride, but that doesn’t mean I feel totally comfortable waltzing into a room full of journalists all, “HEY Y’ALL! NICE TO MEET YOU. I’M A FAN BLOGGER.” When I first arrived at the arena, things actually were a little awkward. Instructed to head to the media room, I didn’t know where to go, and I wandered around a little aimlessly for awhile before walking into a room full of all the Buffalo sports media types. It was weird, and I can’t lie, a little scary.

But then it quickly became apparent that the people who didn’t know me (most people) weren’t going to pay much attention to me, and the guys who did already know me were going to be their usual nice selves. A sincere thanks to Andrew, Jeremy, and Mike for helping to ease me into the world of media access by being friendly and welcoming.

After a few comments from Ted Black, the tour was turned over to Stan Makowski, Jr. (the Sabres VP of Arena Operations) and
Frank Cravotta (Sabres Director of Creative Services), who, from what I gathered, were the two guys most responsible for executing the locker room plans. They were both excellent guides, but the thing that really pinged my attention at this point was the news that after the guided tour, we were going to get to “wander around, check the place out, and stay as long as we like.” THIS, was extremely interesting and welcome news. I’d been anticipating a very controlled tour through the locker rooms, and the news that I’d be welcome to poke around was music to my ears.

The first thing we saw was Lindy’s office, which sadly, I didn’t take a picture of. (I was still trying to get my sea legs with the “media hoard” scene, and I wasn’t sure about taking pictures with my phone. It took me about 2 more minutes before I started taking pictures of EVERYTHING.) Lindy’s office is behind glass, visible from the hallway, and apparently all the players have to walk past him to get into work. Harsh, Lindy.

After Lindy’s office, you enter the player’s lounge.

The Player’s Lounge:

This is a terrible picture, but you get the idea. This is the view of the player's lounge from behind the bar. This room has lots of comfortable looking furniture and a cozy fireplace. I was trying to describe this room to a BPO coworker, and I said, "Imagine they took our break room, and totally swankified it to the degree that you never wanted to leave."

Lots of bowls of healthy snacks, and fancy single-serving coffee makers, and a slick-looking bar. If I'd had more time (and more privacy) I would've gone back behind the bar, opened all the drawers, and seriously investigated what's in a "Sabres" kitchen. For example, I feel a little ashamed that I don't know what kind of knives are in that knife block behind the bar. In retrospect, this seems like important information.

This table was a little suspicious to me. Do they honestly have a tray of cookies available to the Sabres at all times? Cookies are delicious, and young men (in my experience) certainly enjoy them, but they're not a very healthy snack. I suspect these cookies are a prop, put there to inspire jealousy in the journalists. Note that the cookie tray is FULL. No Sabres have sampled those cookies.

Here's where the Sabres can send some emails if, for some reason, their phones/ipads/laptops are all broken. I like this feature a lot, mostly for sentimental reasons. It reminds me of the computer labs at college. I like the idea of Ryan Miller sending sappy emails to his lady love from these computers, because, if I recall, that's all anyone ever writes from computer lab computers. "Dear Noreen, today was a good day at practice. I doubt we'll ever lose again. But, I miss you terribly..."

The Video Room

This is an absurdly bad photo, but this is the video screening room. It's basically a small movie theater where the Sabres can go to study their opponents and also get yelled at about what they did wrong the night before. I like these little desks, where I imagine Lindy will occasionally make them sit and write, "I will not try to get too fancy in front of the home crowd" a hundred times in a row.

Here's another area for plotting and studying. I love those dry erase boards. One of my favorite jokes during a game is to talk in my Lindy voice during a timeout. "Okay. What I want you to do is skate down to the net, and shoot the puck INTO their net. Does everyone understand the plan?" I imagine a lot of those schemes will be planned in this little room.

The Dressing Room

This is the area that we’ll see a lot of on television. It’s round, and opulent, and it’s dimly lit in a way that makes everyone look attractive. In the center is a large Sabres light fixture and directly below that is a light box in the floor with the Sabres logo. This is no mere “carpet logo”. You’d have to be pretty spectacularly unaware of your surroundings to step on this logo.

After the tour was over, during the time when we were invited to wander around and look at whatever we liked, I caught a few moments alone in this room, and I gotta say, it was pretty awe-inspiring. This area is really, REALLY well done, and standing there alone, surrounded by the stalls, I wanted to pledge my allegiance to the Sabres, forever, and ever.

This picture doesn't really do justice to the light box in the floor. One neat feature of the light box is that it's removable, meaning, the image can be swapped out depending on the occasion or situation. For example, if the Sabres are in the playoffs, they might put the number of wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup in the light box. To honor Rick Martin, they would've put a "7" in the light box. This is a very artful and cool feature of the locker room

The pictures above the stalls do not correspond with the individual lockers, mostly because the players move their stalls around a lot. All of the photos in this room are of current Sabres. There is a lot of Sabres history represented in the hallway leading to the ice, but the dressing room belongs entirely to the current Sabres.

Here's Vanek's stall. It's worth mentioning that while we were in there, the dressing room was at LEAST 45,000 degrees. This is because they were "drying the equipment". The whole extreme-heat-thing was explained, but honestly, I wasn't paying very close attention because I was too busy trying to surreptitiously snoop in the stalls. Something about the heat being forced over the equipment, and state-of-the-art technology, and blah blah blah... Some of the more seasoned sports journalists in the room commented that it doesn't stink in there... yet.

Every stall has one of these cool looking pouches. I don't know what that Sabres keep in those pouches, but if I had one of those, that's where I'd keep my most prized keepsakes and trinkets. I covet these Sabres pouches. I covet them HARD. (Also, if I hadn't been afraid I'd be thrown out for excessive nosiness, I'd have opened up one of the hatches in the bench.)

Those are Crunchy's pads in the front of the photo, and Enroth's in the back. They were just laying there on the floor in front of the stalls. I resisted the urge to try the pads on.

I think these skate hooks above the stalls are kind of nifty. I also like how their little blade cozies have their jersey numbers on them.

This might be a decent time to mention that I don’t think I touched a single thing the entire time I was in the arena. Like, I literally don’t think I touched anything. Later, I thought about why this was, and I have two explanations: 1. I guess I’m a little superstitious. I mean, why risk jinxing the whole place by running my grubby hands over everything? Better to be safe than sorry.  2. I sort of felt like I was in a Sabres-themed museum. You don’t walk into the Albright Knox and touch the art, so why would I touch the stuff in the Sabres museum?

In the end, it just felt more respectful to their space to keep my hands to myself, but still, it’s kind of funny that I don’t think I left a single fingerprint in the hour and a half I spent at the arena.

Laundry Room


The laundry room is where I realized that this would be no ordinary “locker room tour.” This was where it really sunk in that the Sabres were basically being all, “Hey, come on in, Katebits! Look at whatever you’d like.”  For as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve been joking about trying to get an interview with the folks that do the Sabres laundry. I want to know everything there is to know about jersey maintenance.

One of the only things I asked Vanek and Ehrhoff in the limo was if they feel any sort of attachment to specific jerseys, or if they’d prefer a fresh new jersey every day. (Disappointingly, they both answered that they could not care less. I believe Vanek’s actual words were, “As long as it doesn’t stink, I’ll wear it.”)

So, the laundry room held a bit of mystic for me, if only because it represented a very-modest-dream realized.

Look! It's a stack of freshly laundered Sabres' socks!

Stacks of towels!

I don't know what this thing is, but it was in the laundry room, and I took a picture of it. It seems to be a little suitcase-type thing with a bunch of pouches. Stain stick organizer? Special detergents for the guys with allergies? Who knows.

Behind those people is a RACK OF JERSEYS! I KNOW. Try to contain your excitement. You don't want to look like a total goober in front of the journalists, do you?

The Medical Area

The Sabres have a little mini-hospital at the rink.

Here's where the Sabres hang out getting fixed up if they get injured during a game. There are three (maybe four?) tables like this. It kind of gives me the willies to imagine the Sabres hospital all filled up with injured Sabres.

Across from the medical tables is this medical station full of gauze, and Alka-Seltzer, and Tylenol. You can't see it in this picture, but on top of the cupboards are little medical models of spines and other hockey-related body bits.

Snippers

I have no idea what this is. It's a whirlpool, but it's too tiny for a Sabre. If a Sabre were to climb into this thing, he'd only be covered up to his thighs. (Exception: Gerbe might be waist-high.)

Here's a stack of weird Sabres towels that were next to the weird tiny whirlpool in the medical area. These towels sort reminded me of the blankets they put over you when you get x-rays at the dentist, but they're clearly too small and fluffy for that job. These are mystery towels.

The medical area was full of oddities. This is a bin full of soapy water, and in it is a strange-looking rack. What's up with this?

The Bathroom/Locker Room

This is room is adjacent to the bathrooms and showers. This area contains actual lockable lockers and a place for the Sabres to change out of their street clothes and into their Sabre-y stuff. I wish I'd taken more pictures of this area, but unfortunately I was distracted by the rows of toiletries on the counters by the sinks. Katebits: "Who cares about mega-fancy new lockers! There are bottles of Listerine and Lubriderm over here!"

Here are various team-provided products that the Sabres use to keep themselves sweet-smelling and their skin satiny-soft. Also, someone's hairbrush. Right behind these sinks are the toilets and urinals, which I briefly considered photographing but decided against in the interest of "acting like I've been there before."

The Sabres had, not one, but TWO, giant bottles of Listerine in the bathroom. I guess good breath and the prevention of gingivitis is an important team priority.

Here's the Sabres shower.

The Gym

The workout room is long and decorated by this cool astroturf carpet. You can't see it well in this photo, but there's a logo in the middle of this carpet. There was some discussion among the journalists about whether they were allowed to step on THAT logo. Personally, I don't understand the confusion about this issue. The rules are simple, guys. Play it safe, don't step on ANY logos, and Goose won't yell at you. It's easy!

Here are some balance balls and various stretchy exercise-y things.

At the end of the astroturf carpet are a couple of small rooms and offices, and in one of the rooms is this. It's a Bod Pod. I didn't get the details on this contraption, but I think it's some sort of horrible body fat calculator. I'm inherently afraid of the Bod Pod because, first of all, it's a crazy looking POD and if science fiction movies have taught me anything it's, "steer clear of pods," and second of all, I have noooooo interest in an ultra-accurate body fat measurement. When I look at this photo, I can easily picture the faces of various unhappy Sabres, forlornly looking out of the Bod Pod window, hands pressed to the glass in despair. Poor Sabres!

The gym has two fleets of bikes. The white bikes...

...and the black bikes. I'd like to think that one set of bikes is somehow more difficult and torturous than the other. Lindy: "DEREK, YOU WERE TOO SLOW TO THE BENCH AFTER YOUR SHIFTS TODAY. GET YOUR BUTT ON THE BIKE."" Roy-Z: (sheepishly) "Black bike?" Lindy: "NO. WHITE BIKE." Roy-Z: (cries)

Back behind all the bikes is a bunch of weight-lifting equipment that I didn't photograph for some reason. In the middle of the weight area, were these two boxes, one of which has the old red "B" on it. I took this photo because it was literally the only thing in the entire place where I noticed an old logo. The "B" with the sword through it is still alive and well in the locker room (all of the other B's I saw were gold), but I seriously don't think I saw a slug the entire time I was there. F'NC really HAS been de-slugged.

Here's a pull-y arm machine. I think this is where Staffy does his hissing cat exercises.

I don't know what a "stabilizer" is, but the Sabres have one.

The Visitor’s Locker Room

The Visitor’s locker room is predictably less awesome than the Sabres locker room. It’s long, rectangular, and utilitarian. While I was in the visitor’s locker room Paul Hamilton mentioned that he’s always thought that you should make the visitors as comfortable as possible. Give them comfy chairs and keep the room just a liiiiittle too warm. I have to say, I agree with Paul on this one. Do what you can to make the visitors sleepy, that’s what I say. Hell, give them fluffy cots to lay down on between periods and pipe in meditational music.

Apparently, the Sabres take an opposite philosophy: provide the visitors with exactly what they need, and not much more.

If the visitor's locker room could talk, it would say, "Visitors, you guys are lame, and the Sabres are going to win this game."

If the visitor's shower could talk it would say, "Visitors, you guys are lame, and now you're about to take a tepid, unpleasant shower."

This was one of the funnest things I saw all day. It's a dry erase board! With the names of Leafs on it! And Sabres power play units! One of the reasons I love this dry erase board is because I found it in a closet-like room in the visitor's area. (I can't TELL you how fun it was to wander around the bowels of the arena, opening whatever door I thought I could safely get away with opening.) I also love this dry erase board because it's just so behind-the-scene-y. After Heather B. saw this photo she wanted to know if I'd asked anyone whose handwriting this is. I didn't ask about that, but I think this demonstrates well why Heather and I are BFFS.

Here's the visitor's bench.

My Seriously Inept Attempt at Documenting the Artistic Touches Designed to Honor the History of the Franchise and Inspire the Current Sabres

I did a COMICALLY BAD job of documenting the hallways of the new locker room facilities at First Niagara Center. There are two areas of really neat artwork that the Sabres will walk by every single workday. One is the wall of names and retired numbers, and the other is a wall of pucks, which commemorate important events in Sabres history. Here’s the only picture I took of ALL of that.

There is a spot for the Stanley Cup on this very cool wall.

My excuse for not spending more time on these genuinely SPECTACULAR features is that I figured the professional media outlets would cover these features well. If I was invited on the media tour for a “reason” it wasn’t to mimic The Buffalo News (poorly), it was to find the dry erase boards and other assorted arena oddities that Harrington or Vogl might not be inclined to fuss over. Also, during the period of time when the tour group was looking at the hallways, I took the opportunity to slip back into the locker room and steal a few minutes alone, soaking up the vibe in there. That is a memory from the day that I’ll cherish for a long time.

However, I really wish that I’d had enough time to really take a long, long look at these artful hallways. After the guided part of the tour was over, the Sabres graciously said, “Stay as long as you’d like,” but since I knew they didn’t really mean that (especially since “as long as I’d like” actually equaled, “Can I sleep over? Those lounge couches look pretty comfortable, and I see you have plenty of snacks to tide me over for dinner”), I knew I had to strategically pick my spots. If I ever have another opportunity to walk through the locker rooms, the first thing I’m going to do is head towards those hallways, and read every single name, and every single word.

Tool, Sticks, and other Equipment-type stuff!

Seeing things like racks of sticks and skate sharpeners was by FAR my favorite part of the tour. I desperately wanted to pick up all the little tools, and open all the drawers of assorted hockey-related knick-knacks. I’m not sure why these things hold such interest for me, but they do.

I might not have taken any photographs of the gorgeous hallways, but I DID take about 45 pictures of these drying racks for skates and gloves.

It looks like something from a nightmare.

All of the tools are shiny new and red.

Here's some stuff for fixing other stuff.

I really like this. Small cubbys full of skate blades.

Along with the dry erase board, this was my other favorite find from the day. It's where they keep the skate laces! THIS IS IMPORTANT SABRES INFORMATION, YOU GUYS!

Sticks! And lots of them! Like I said earlier, I don't think I touched a single thing while I was in the arena, but this was DEFINITELY the hardest place to keep my hands to myself.

For some reason I think it's cute that someone has used a Sharpie to change the number on Regehr's sticks.

 __________

So, 3900 words later, we have FINALLY reached the end of my tour of the Sabres tour. If you’d like to read more about the locker room and look at photos much, much better than the ones I took with my phone, I recommend going here.

A heartfelt thanks to the Sabres for inviting me to this event and for being so welcoming while I was there. It was an incredibly fun afternoon. And, of course, thanks to the Pegulas for buying the Sabres, being generally awesome, and building a new locker room for us to tour.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

10 Things

1. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! WOOOOOOOOOO!! WOOOOOOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

2. Hot DAMN, that was a fun weekend of Sabre-y goodness. After our Friday morning concert, I zipped home, dropped off my viola, threw on my new BITCHIN’ Sabres tee, and hauled ass over to Lanette’s where I got to experience her SABRES THEMED ROOM for the first time. (She’s got a goal horn and a red light, you guys.) Then today, I wandered over to the arena, and watched the game with lots of peeps while eating bratwurst and freezing my ass off. (It’s much, MUCH colder in the arena this season. For reals.)

3. Look, I know it’s only two games, but the Sabres are obviously going 82-0 this season. It’s preeeetty much a done deal. The thing I enjoyed the most about the games was that they were just so breezy. The Sabres won with ease. They didn’t even appear to break a sweat. I’m just kidding about the Sabres going 82-0, but it sure is nice to get a good start.

4. Today Patty and I were a little confused about the lines, and we were just naming guys, trying to figure out who’s playing with who, and at one point we just sort of paused and I was all, “…It feels like the Sabres have lots of good forwards all of a sudden.” It was an odd and thrilling realization. In almost any combination, the Sabres have three really good scoring lines, and a rollicking fourth line. (Although, [and this is barely a complaint], I’m sad that Lindy seems to have broken up Kaleta, Goose, and Gerbe. I looooved that line, and they were such a fun combination of punch-y and score-y. Bring them back, Lindy!)

5. We knew Leino would be an improvement on Connolly (at the very least), but if Luke Adam continues being so compatible with Vanek, we are REALLY in business. One of the perks of refusing to learn about our prospects is that every time a new kid shows up in a Sabres uniform and he isn’t a pile of puke, I’m pleasantly surprised. I remember being fairly impressed with Adam during his stint with the Sabres last season, but obviously he wasn’t getting time on a line with Vanek back then. This is a whole new situation. Kudos to Lindy for putting that combination together, and mega-kudos to Adam for stepping up to the plate. It’s fun to root for the young guys. (Private to Luke Adam: I just made a “category” on this blog for you. That means you should go ahead and find a permanent place to live in Buffalo. The only guy I’ve ever incorrectly put on the”Sabre” list was Mark Mancari, and really, that was just a rookie mistake on my part. Find yourself an apartment, kiddo. Call me if you ever need viola or ridiculous-blogging lessons.)

6. The defense is remarkably better. Here’s how we can tell:

  • Miller’s job has looked easy (rather than terrifying).
  • Myers hasn’t freaked us out at ALL so far. Remember how scary he was at the beginning of last season? It’s hard to say how much of  Myers’ non-suckiness can be attributed to him being older and wiser, and how much of it can be attributed to the fact that he now gets to play with Robyn Regehr instead of a rotating collection of spazzes, but either way, HOORAY.
  • Ehrhoff, Ehrhoff, Ehrhoff, Ehrhoff, Ehrhoff, Ehrhoff. I love me some Christian Ehrhoff
  • Mike Weber. Perfectly serviceable Mike Weber, is sitting in the press box because we don’t need him. When someone inevitable gets hurt, it won’t be a total crisis (unless it’s Myers), because we’ll still have Mike Weber. It sucks for Mike Weber that the Sabres don’t need him, but it ROCKS for us.

7. It really struck me today how appropriate it is that this team started the season in Europe.

Europe is where North Americans go when we want to “find ourselves”. I’ve been to Europe twice, both times for viola-related reasons, and both times I came home all starry-eyed and inspired to TAKE ON THE WORLD. Europe is where we go to be young, and romantic, and to ride trains, and think Big Important Thoughts. I can’t imagine a better place for our young team to start this season. As much as I’m looking forward to the home opener I almost wish we could leave the Sabres over there for a little while longer. Obviously they like Europe. I love the idea of them having adventures, and writing flowery prose in their journals, and tasting weird fish-y foods that Ville Leino swears are a Finnish delicacy.

8. I feel obligated to comment on Lindy’s choice for the captaincy, so here goes: I approve. Good job, Lindy.

9. Heather’s talking sense here.

10. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!


…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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