Archive for the 'Catharsis' Category

In Which My Inescapable Need to Over-Analyze My “Relationship” With the Buffalo Sabres Finally Comes In Handy: A True Story of Optimistic Mental Contortions, by Katebits.

EDIT: I wrote this post before the Rangers game which ended just moments ago. The Sabres lost the game in the shootout but they won in our hearts (IT WAS A TIE).

Maybe the Sabres aren’t bad? Maybe they’re… awesome? I have no idea, but I will say this: I’m not sad about that “loss” at all. Maybe my cheerfulness in the face of the shootout loss proves that the conclusion I reach at the end of this post is true. I dunno. It’s all very confusing and fun.

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The Sabres are bad. Possibly extremely bad. They might not be as bad as they seem (like it or not, injuries ARE kind of a reasonable excuse), but they’re still waaaaay worse than we ever thought they could possibly be.

I’ve spent the last few days wringing my hands worrying about whether I’m reacting to the Sabres in the “right” way. (I know. I’m the most annoying person in the world.) I like to think of myself as a cheery fan, so it worries me when I veer into genuinely gloomy Sabres territory. The big question is: Should I (CAN I?!) actually root against the Sabres?

(Now look. I know that technically the Sabres still have a mathematical chance at making the playoffs, but I’m not a, “I still believe!!!!” kind of fan. If you are that type of fan, all the power to ya. Me? I’m more of a “Accept it at face value and then make the best of it,” kind of girl. Right now the face value of the Buffalo Sabres looks to be about $1.50.)

The facts say that the Sabres have much better odds of snagging a lottery draft pick than they have of making the playoffs. History says that it’s going to take failure on an undeniable level for there to be a management/coaching change. Flaming out in spectacular fashion really might be the Sabres’ best available option. At the very least, a real flame out is decisive. A season-long flame out says in a loud, clear, impossible-to-ignore voice, “Stop dicking around, Sabres management. Changes MUST be made.”

The trouble is, watching the Sabres flame out is not very fun. Or…is it?

The Habs game last night was fascinating to me. I really enjoyed that game, and yet, at the very end, if the Habs had tied it up, I think I would’ve been fine with it. (It’s hard to say for sure how one might feel in the face of hypothetical suckiness.) I was definitely rooting for the Sabres. I was genuinely happy when the Sabres scored, and I laughed with glee watching the Habs skate around like a bunch of clowns in reaction to the Sabres inexplicable dominance. (Seriously, Habs. You guys made the Sabres look like geniuses last night and that is, well, frankly hilarious.) BUT, the voice in the back of my head saying, “It wouldn’t be so bad if the Habs won this game…” That voice never really went away.

It occurred to me last night after the game that this might actually be a win-win situation for the optimistic fan. If the Sabres win, yay! The Sabres won. Rejoice! If the Sabres lose… yay! (YEAH, I SAID IT!) The Sabres are still on their way to a tasty draft pick, and maybe some of these crummy players and/or crummy GMs and coaches might finally get booted out of here.

Conclusion: WE LITERALLY CAN’T LOSE, YOU GUYS. IT’S ALL GOOD!

Ta-da! Cheerfulness wins again!

(Please now picture me in the triumphant pose of a gymnast who has just stuck the landing in an Olympic competition. Thank you.)

The Sabres Fan Survival Guide

My friend Mike Schopp wrote a very thoughtful piece for WGR a few days ago and I highly recommend that you read it right away.

It’s difficult to talk about the Sabres right now because we’re all so surly. Even the rosiest personalities among us are fed up and exasperated. Unlike the past five years, I’ve successfully tuned out a lot of the chatter this season. When the Sabres are this bad, I lose the taste for blogs, and newspaper columns, and radio shows discussing their many shortcomings. It’s really not in my personality to get rage-y about the Sabres, so, instead of getting rage-y, I get indifferent. Every once in a while, something cuts through the fog of my indifference and I think, “Hm. That’s a smart and reasonable position,” and it makes me feel better. Mike’s post was like that.

Mike went into a lot of particulars about his job and about the current state of the Sabres, but what I liked best about his post is that it caused me to step back and ask myself, “Where exactly do I stand? What are my core Sabres beliefs?” I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

I watch the Sabres for fun. It’s my responsibility to make sure that my Sabres fandom doesn’t turn into something toxic. My response to the Sabres is more a reflection of me than it is of the team.

Now obviously, this season BLOWS A MILLION CHUNKS EACH AND EVERY DAY. You’d have to be delusional to be walking around projecting optimism and sunshine about the current state of the Stupidhead Sabres. There is absolutely NO reasonable cause for hope here. BUT, there are steps we can take as fans to ensure that our fandom doesn’t veer towards a head-on collision with Crankytown.

If you are reading this blog, I think it’s safe to say that you’re a Super Fan of the Sabres (let’s not even THINK about what it means if you’re writing this blog). People who have a healthy/casual relationship with sports do not read blogs about their horrifying hockey team. No, if you’re reading this, you’ve already surrendered some portion of yourself to the Sabres. The Sabres own a little piece of your heart, and that’s just how it is. To some extent, you and I are helpless. Since we can’t totally ignore the Sabres, the best we can hope to do this season is manage the damage they inflict.

It’s my sincere belief that things are going to get worse for the Sabres before they get better. It’s sad but true. This season is lost. They’re done. I’ve been saying for weeks (on Twitter, not here. Sorry, blog readers!) that I think Regier is going to get fired the second the Sabres finish missing the playoffs. I still believe this, and I also believe that a lot of the stuff Pegula and Black have been saying about injuries being a legitimate excuse is just something they have to say because they really don’t have any good moves at the moment. GMs get fired in the summertime, not in January. Coaches get fired mid-season all the time, but Lindy Ruff exists in some weird alternative coaching universe where nothing can ever really touch him. (The sooner you accept the weird Laws of Lindy, the sooner you’ll feel better. Just surrender.) So, the prudent move for ownership is to just wait this out, sell at the deadline, and plan for next season. Ryan Miller is right. There is no trade that can save this team. They need an overhaul.  They need at least one trade deadline, one draft, and one July 1st to fix this. They might need even more than that.

So that’s where we stand.

The bad news is that as a Super Fan you’re going to have to suffer through seasons like this, and you’re going to keep watching, and you’re going to keep reading redonk blog posts, and you’re going to keep wishing YOU HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF THE BUFFALO SABRES. But the good news is that… well, wait… there is no good news. This blows.

Just kidding. The good news is that there ARE steps you can take to survive the season. Here are some things that work for me. This list is by no means complete, and not every suggestion is going to work for every fan.

1. Believe in the things that make you feel better.

This is not about being delusional. This is about protecting your ability to be hopeful.

The thing I liked most about Mike’s post is this:

Maybe you’re right but maybe you’re wrong. Since no one knows I’ll lean toward the side that makes me feel better.

I’ve been struggling to articulate something like this for weeks. No one knows (NO ONE) what is really going on with this team and what would solve the problem, and furthermore, fans have absolutely no control over any of it. Wouldn’t it just be nicer if we all just followed our hearts a little bit here?

For Mike, the belief that the Cup would be sweeter with Regier and Ruff at the helm has value. For me, it’s my faith in Pegula and Ted Black that makes me feel better. As a reasonable fan, you would be wise to consider what makes you feel better, and then take steps to ignore the rest.

2. Ignore the rest.

Stop reading the paper, stop listening to the radio (sorry, Mike), and for the LOVE OF GOD, stop reading this blog. (Heh.)

3. Stand by your man.

A few years ago (during one of the 10th place years), I wrote this about Jason Pominville. (BTW, that post is a good read if you want to be reminded of a.) how right I’ve always been about Jason Pominville and b.) how there’s a lot of ebb and flow with every player over the course of any long contract.) I think about that post a lot because I remember that after I wrote it I felt a LOT better about being a Sabres fan.

One of the things that makes me sad about the current environment is how often I hear people say there are NO likeable Sabres. I certainly can’t judge anyone for disliking these guys, but for what it’s worth, I’ve always had a few players that I just like, no matter what. If you have a guy that you just like, don’t give up on him now. Hold onto him tight and do it without shame.

My guys are Goose, Crunchy, and Pommerdoodle. I don’t care how hard they suck or how hard they rock. I like those guys, it makes me feel good to like those guys, and beyond that I just don’t care.

4. Listen to music while watching the games.

This one has absolutely saved me this season. A few weeks ago I found myself unreasonably irritated by the Sabres broadcast team. The details are unimportant (and completely forgettable, apparently), but for some reason that night I was all, “I would totally fight Rob Ray right now. I WOULD FIGHT HIM, AND I WOULD WIN.” In a fit of frustration, I put the television on mute and turned on some soothing tunes. Magically, I didn’t need to fight Rob Ray anymore. I calmly watched the rest of the game (the Sabres lost miserably), and I escaped relatively unscathed. Now I do this all the time. Don’t forget that even when the Sabres are horrible, music is still wonderful.

Never underestimate how much better you might feel without the Sabres broadcast team feeding you a bunch of bullhonky about how the Sabres aren’t the worst team ever.

5. If a bunch of people are screeching about something, listen to what they’re saying, and then believe the opposite.

This one is hard to explain, so bear with me for a minute.

Here is what the screeching, angry hoard is screeching these days: “NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE AND DARCY REGIER IS A MORON AND PEGULA IS JUST MORE OF THE SAME AND LINDY SHOULD BE FIRED AND I HATE ALL THE SABRES AND BLAH BLAH BLAH POOR ME I’M A SEASON TICKET HOLDER AND I’M NOT RENEWING  WAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” On one hand, all of these points are totally legitimate, but on the other hand it’s just SO DUMB.

Even if the screeching is factually correct, don’t you just want to distance yourself from that? I do. I think there is almost always a completely reasonable way to counter any sports-related screeching. Here’s how I would counter the current screechers:

Um, hello? Last year, out of nowhere a billionaire no one had ever heard of bought the team and vowed to win us a dozen Stanley Cups. Then he proceeded to spend like a drunken sailor in free agency. Things DO change. Things HAVE changed. The problem here is not lack of change, it’s that the change hasn’t worked. What that probably means is that Darcy Regier is going to get his ass fired this summer. Once Darcy is fired and a new GM takes over, Lindy will FINALLY be on the clock. Yes, it is true that the current Sabres suck in nearly every way, but no, it’s not true that this will necessarily be true forever.

*Patrick Kaleta hand wash gesture*

I take pride in disagreeing with the Whiner Line dummies. If they say one thing, I say the opposite. It’s not actually so much about disagreeing, it’s more about finding the intellectual high ground. The best move is to ignore the screechers entirely, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you can’t beat them, whatever you do, DO NOT JOIN THEM.

I’m not sure that this one would bring solace to everyone, but it does for me.

5. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about Sabres-related issues.

I would never judge you for changing your mind. In fact, I’d respect you for it, because it means you’re using your brain and responding to the situation at hand, and not to some prior position which was every bit as dumb as whatever position you’re currently taking. My point is that when it comes to the Sabres, we’re all idiots, all the time. Try to mix it up a little. Variety is the spice of life!

Example: I’ve flip-flopped a million times on Lindy Ruff. My opinion changes weekly, and yet I’m quite certain I’ve never been wrong about him. Heh.

6. Watch the game in a bar.

It’s hard to pay attention to a game in a bar, and even harder to get all bent out of shape about a game you watch in a bar.

7. While you’re in that bar, drink a lot.

Alcohol helps.

8. Figure out which of your friends are Sabres-sane and which are Sabres-crazy, and choose to hang out with the Sabres-sane ones.

Everyone who is reading or writing this blog is Sabres-crazy. If you were even remotely sane about the Sabres you’d be ignoring them completely by now. If you put two Sabres-crazy people together for a game like last night things can go south in a hurry because you’re both so invested in the outcome.

I actually have quite a few friends who are Sabres-sane. These people watch the games when they happen to be in front of a television when the Sabres are playing, and while they’d certainly prefer a win to a loss they’re not going to go to a dark place no matter what. These friends are worth their weight in gold right now. If you have friends like this, you should be nice to them and buy them lots of beer.

9. Don’t judge other fans, and stop caring about the opinions of people who do.

This is going to sound contradictory in light of the fact that I just called a bunch of people “Whiner Line dummies,” and encouraged you to disagree with them on principle, but whatevs.

It really bothers me when people who sit at home (or worse, FAR WORSE, the press box) rag on the fans at the game. I work really, really hard to pay for my seats, and there is no conceivable way to care more about the Sabres than I do.  The constant message earlier this season that I was “doing it wrong” in the arena was actually very hurtful to me. I stopped giving those opinions my respect a few months ago, and it felt GREAT.

If someone puts the word “fan” into quotation marks on twitter, feel free to disregard their tweet entirely. They’re just having a douchey moment and hopefully it will pass. If the douchey moment doesn’t pass, unfollow them.

For better or for worse, we’re all in this together. There is really no reason to turn on each other. Do your best to refrain from fan-cannibalism and NO MATTER WHAT don’t let the worst of it get to you.

10. Basketball!

I know some people in Buffalo love to hate basketball, but I bet you’re not one of those people. Basketball is fun and since you don’t care about it at all (to the point where you regularly forget which teams you like), it’s a totally safe distraction from the Sabres.

I haven’t watched much basketball yet this season, but I like knowing it’s there.

11. Have your sister and her husband make you a niece.

Hi, Ruby!

This one is a little impractical because the best babies (i.e. fattest) take about nine months to prepare, but with proper timing, a new niece can do wonders to put a spring in your step.

At the risk of sounding very cheesy, now is a good time to put the Sabres in the proper perspective. Following hockey is our hobby, but I’m positive that everyone reading this has a lot of other important and beautiful things going on in their lives. Let’s dwell on those a bit.

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Well, that’s all I’ve got! Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments. Stay strong, Sabres fans.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

Stay Strong

The last few days have been difficult to endure as a Sabres fan. First the Sabres were complete a-holes, and then the entire hockey media had a two-day THE-SABRES-SUCK-A-THON. It’s been gross and demoralizing.

The game last night didn’t go exactly how fans would’ve drawn it up (I guess we wanted the Sabres to rip the heads off of various Bruins Habs? Or something?) but it was still a fun one. I know some Sabres fans will disagree with this, but the Sabres played with guts last night. Personally, I’ll take “come from behind and beat the Habs in their own building,” over, “try to fight everyone on the Canadiens because of something that happened in a game against the Bruins,” almost any day of the week.

Like any fan, I loved that game because the Sabres came from behind to win. (Oh and BTW, I went all “Hockey Prophet” for a few minutes on twitter during the game.) The mischievous part of me really loved that game. Those of us who have been not-so-secretly rolling our eyes at the league-wide fury over the Sabres lack of response to Lucic, get to be all, “WOOOOOOOOOOO! The Sabres are 5-1 in their last six games! ‘THE CODE’ CAN SUUUUUUUUUUUUCK IT!” It might not be the most mature (or intellectually sound) reaction in the world, but after the non-stop pounding of the franchise we’ve endured for the last few days, it is a fairly satisfying response. The win provided some respite from the crankiness.

“Respite from the crankiness,” is good, because I’m simply not in the mood to flip out over the Sabres right now… probably because it’s mid-November. Last night at the beginning of the game I was feeling VERY out of sorts about hockey, and listening to the Versus crew go on and ON about the multitude of ways in which the Sabres suck sort of tipped me over the edge. It’s not that I even disagreed with them, I just didn’t want to hear it. I muted the television, and watched the game with some mellow music playing. I cannot recommend this practice highly enough. My frustration just drained out of my body, and it felt like I reclaimed hockey. It was just me and the game.

The Sabres are currently better than last season, and I expect them to be better next year than they are right now. If the entire team as it’s currently constructed is mentally and physically soft, that will take a while to change. If it’s Lindy’s fault they’re soft, he’ll have to be fired eventually (probably at some stage where they’re NOT 11-6 and 1 point out of 1st in the East). But for right now, in the grand scheme of things, I believe the Sabres are making progress.

The Sabres sure aren’t perfect, but they’re what we’ve got.

That isn’t to say I didn’t fire everyone during the first two periods of game last night. I did fire everyone. The Sabres looked like complete poo in the first two periods and that was disappointing to say the least. But, in the end everything worked out just fine.

“In the end everything will be just fine,” is sort of my new Sabres motto. It’s mid-November. If last season taught me anything it’s that things around here CAN change. In the mean time, I highly recommend simply muting the television/radio/internet. Take what you enjoy from the games and let Mike Milbury’s stupid jaw flap impotently on mute.

Stay strong, Sabres fans!

Lowered Expectations

Stupid and ugly teams need love too.

Before the game last night I had a bad feeling. I just kind of knew. I just knew the Sabres were going to be bad, possibly terrifyingly bad, and I suspected that it was going to be a looooong night. (I actually considered tweeting about my sense-of-impending-doom, but I decided against being “that guy.” “That guy” is an a-hole, even if he/she ultimately winds up looking like a Hockey Nostradamus. I bit my tongue in favor of not being a t-hole [BTW, I'm floating "t-hole" as twitter slang for a person who's an a-hole on twitter], so you’ll have to take my word for it: I saw that game coming.)

Before I went to the game, I hatched a plan to protect myself emotionally from the Sabres. I figured if I walked into the arena assuming the Sabres were going to lose, it wouldn’t hurt so badly when they did. I asked myself, “Self, what’s the lowest you’re willing to go in terms of your expectations for the evening?” And the answer? I decided to expect that the Sabres would blow a two goal lead with 2 minutes remaining in the game. That seemed like a perfectly reasonable baseline level for my expectations. I realize that those are SUPREMELY low expectations, but this was my maiden voyage as a pessimist, so I decided to really go for it. With my expectations set ridiculously low, I headed out to the arena.

You know what? MY INSANE PLAN WORKED.

It’s difficult to say if the Sabres failed to meet my low expectations or if they somehow exceeded them by being even poopier than my wildest predictions, but either way, I just never got that grumpy about the game.  Oh sure, I wanted to launch the Sabres into the sun (just like you did), but the rage-iness never really penetrated my heart. I was safe, protected by my carefully constructed low expectations.

I’m making a big joke of this whole concept now, but I do think it’s time for Sabres fans to reevaluate our expectations for this team. Of COURSE the season is early, and of COURSE everything could change tomorrow, and the Sabres DID look awesome through the first five games… but seriously, what’s wrong with dialing back our expectations just a smidge? Does it not make sense that they would struggle a bit early on? The team has some really new, key parts. The chemistry of the locker room (not to mention the actual, physical locker room), is waaaay different now. The afterglow of Pegula’s emergence has worn off a bit, and now, the Sabres have no excuses for not winning, and so everyone is working under new pressure.

And to be clear: I’m not excusing them (they suck donkey ass). I’m just sayin’.

Where does it say in the fan handbook that a new, fabulous, billionaire owner means a straight line to the Cup?  Did we not get a little ahead of ourselves by assuming the Sabres would be totally freaking awesome this season? Aren’t we just setting ourselves up for misery by expecting that they’ll be Cup contenders RIGHT NOW? Is the Stanley Cup really the ONLY acceptable outcome for any given season?

I’m not trying to be a jerk, and I honestly don’t feel pessimistic when I say these things. I really believe in my heart, that the best way to enjoy the Sabres, is to dial back the expectations, accept them for what they are (“what they are” is still TBD, obvy), and try our best to not get too irrationally rage-y along the way.

Pegula’s emergence was like a fairytale, but the fairytale part is now over. This part is about hard work from the team (hopefully), and cheering and/or booing (depending on the sitch) from the fans. What if we start with that as a baseline of expectation?

One of the things I’ve heard time and time again about the 06/07 season is that in many ways it wasn’t as fun as it should have been. Hockey first caught my eye during the ’07 playoff run, so I don’t remember this for myself, but SO MANY people have described that playoff run as sort of… grimly Cup obsessed. I’ve heard it described as a chore. As a job. As horribly stressful. I’ve never personally lived through a season like that as a fan, but the way people talk about that season has always served as a cautionary tale for me. I don’t want to spend the year pissed off if the Sabres don’t look like a Cup contender every night. Frankly, I’d prefer to spend the year being pleasantly surprised when they manage to put their skates on the correct feet.

I’m truly confused about the Sabres right now. I honestly have NO idea what to expect from them from one night to the next. The first few games they looked unstoppable, and then something changed, and now they look really, truly t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e. They’ll probably flip from awesome to terrible and then back to awesome about five more times this season. Just go ahead and add, “They’ll be alternately loveable and SO BAD YOU WANT TO GOUGE YOUR EYES OUT,” to the list of “Katebits Approved” expectations.

But here’s the good news: For better or for worse, I have complete faith that the Sabres will win the Stanley Cup before I die. If it’s not this year, it will be another year. If it’s not this team, it will be another team. I expect them to win it all someday, I really do.  As bad as last night was, it’s not going to matter in the end. And by “end” I don’t mean the end of the season. When I say “end,” I mean “when Buffalonians finally see the captain of the Sabres lift the Cup up over his head.”

When I start to think about the Sabres in terms of  my “big picture” expectations, I can feel my smaller-by-comparison expectations for this particular season slip into realm of “realistic,” and it feels healthy and good. As much as I wish it were otherwise, I can’t strap on a pair of skates and win the damn Cup myself. No matter how we react to the team, fans have no control over any of this. So, as far as this season goes, as an act of self-empowerment, I’m lowering my expectations. I’m doing so with joy in my heart.

The Sabres’ job is to win the Stanley Cup. My job is to enjoy being a Sabres fan.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

Summer Vacation

I’m going to do something different with this blog this offseason.  I’m going to close up shop for the summer. I can honestly tell you I’ve spent roughly three minutes thinking about the Sabres in the last three weeks.

I spent one minute thinking about them after it became clear that the Lightning were about to sweep the Caps. (“DAMN I wish the Sabres could’ve gotten a piece of those sadsack Caps,” I thought.)

I spent a minute thinking about the Sabres when I watched a period of the US/Norway Worlds game. (“Hey look,” I said to myself, “there’s Goose! … and there he is again! Hi Goose! HEY GOOSE! Goose, look over here!  It’s me, Kate!  From Buffalo! HONK! HONK! HONK!”)

And I spent a minute thinking about the Sabres after I finally got bored enough to sit down and watch Darcy and the Gang’s post-season exit press conference. (FYI, Darcy seems to be pissed off about Crunchy’s goalie mask, and during the press conference he basically accused Crunchy of wearing a sub-standard mask. To me that’s interesting and dishy. I’m pretty sure at the beginning of last season, Darcy was all, “Hey Crunchy, you need to wear this helmet so you don’t get a concussion,” and Crunchy was all, “No way, Darcy! That helmet makes my head look fat. I want to wear this helmet! The kitten can whisper in my ear to warn me when the puck is coming so I’ll never get hit in the head.” Either way, Darcy seemed incredibly irked about Crunchy’s concussion. I look forward to the continuation of Mask-Gate.)

But other than those three things, I really haven’t given the Sabres much thought recently.

One of the things that I really took away from this season is the realization that I’m happiest when I accept the Sabres at face value, and then move on with my life. I can’t bear the thought of spending the summer trying to scrap together posts about whether or not the Sabres should re-sign Drew Stafford, Steve Montador and Tim Connolly. (Answer: yes, maybe, and no. See? It took, like, 10 keystrokes to answer that question. How the hell could I possibly blog about that for five months?)

So, in lieu of one half-hearted post per week, I’m going to take an indefinite break. I’ll probably make a reappearance around July 1st depending on how interesting and/or lame free agency winds up being for the Sabres.

I’ll leave with the following Prayer for the Offseason,

Oh, Mighty Hockey Gods. Thank you for a blessed and wonderful 2010/11 Sabres season. Seriously, that was rad. It would’ve been fun if they had gone farther in the playoffs, but whatever. That’s life. All in all it was a great season, and my love for the franchise has grown. Thank you almighty Hockey Gods for bringing us Terry Pegula and Ted Black, and thank you for making the previously lame-looking Sabres suddenly and inexplicably, awesome-looking.

Please hear my prayer for the 2011 Sabres offseason.

Please guide Darcy Regier’s hand so that he may keep the awesomest Sabres and trade the lame ones.

Please confuse the other GMs in the league so that they happily trade their best players to the Sabres in exchange for the bargaining rights to Tim Connolly and Patrick Lalime. (And since he came up, PLEASE Almighty Hockey Gods, do NOT let the Sabres re-sign Patrick Lalime. This request seems almost silly, because NO ONE with half a brain cell would re-sign Lalime at this point, but Almighty Hockey Gods, WE’VE BEEN BURNED BEFORE. We can never be too careful when it comes to the back-up goalie position and the Buffalo Sabres. It’s best to pray first, and ask questions later.)

Please heal the injured Sabres. 

And along those lines, please provide Ryan Miller with enough minor daily annoyances that he comes back to Buffalo next season cranky enough to do his job well.

Please help Darcy to draft some tasty prospects.

Please let all the best free agents want to come to Buffalo.

Please let Drew Stafford either be awesome or be lame, once and for all. If he’s going to be awesome, please let him sign a reasonable, long-term contract with the Sabres, and if he’s going to be lame, please let him sign an UNreasonable and hilariously long contract with one of our enemies.

I don’t even know how to pray for Jochen Hecht. Just… fix him, please.

Please let Zach Parise and Joe Pavelski become Sabres somehow.

Please infuse Lindy Ruff with energy, and new, exciting ideas for how to coach. If he’s going to be the coach for life, he’s got to mix it up every few years. Last year he seemed really invigorated by the Olympics, maybe this summer he should climb Mt. Everest, or spend a month in a monastery praying to the Hockey Gods.  I dunno.  Just please keep Lindy feisty and in love with hockey.

Please make sure that Terry Pegula has tons and tons of fun owning the Sabres. A happy Terry Pegula is good for everyone.

Please make sure that Ted Black is showered with the adoration and monetary rewards that he deserves. Maybe he should get his own radio show or something. I could be his adorable co-host, you know, if you wanted. And Hockey Gods, if you made a Ted Black Trapper Keeper, I would TOTALLY buy it. Just saying.

And finally, please Almighty Hockey Gods, make my flower gardens grow big and strong.  This has nothing to do with the Sabres, but it would make me very happy.

Amen.

Have a good summer, Sabres fans!

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

All My Respect, Sabres.

Honestly, I have no complaints. (Well okay, I’d launch Mike Richards into the sun to die a miserable death if I could, but that’s not so much a complaint as is a heartfelt dream. I’m also pretty bummed that the game was so lopsided.  It was such a great series, and to have it end like that was a major letdown. I wish the team hadn’t looked so scared tonight. I also think it’s weird that Lindy pulled Crunchy when he did. And frankly, if I never hear the name Daniel Briere again, it will be to soon. Fuck that guy. And I have no idea what to think of Chris Butler or Drew Stafford. And I’m flat out annoyed with Brad Boyes. Okay, fine… I have a few complaints. But let’s call them quibbles, not complaints.  There will be plenty of time to address our minor quibbles this summer.)

The Sabres gave us a great season. In the end, they were severely outmatched. The injuries piled up too high. Regardless of the eventual outcome, it was a wonderful run, and a wonderful year. I feel great about the future of this team, and I enter the offseason with hope in my heart.I am incredibly proud of this team. I’m proud to be a Sabres fan.

Last year at this time it felt like nothing could ever change, and then it all changed. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Thank you, Sabres!

Ownership

I’m honestly stunned by the depth of emotion that I felt listening to Terry Pegula talk today. I’m such a new fan, and I’ve been doing this for such a relatively small percentage of my life. I can’t imagine what it felt like for some of you to listen to Terry Pegula this morning- you who have cheered for this team for as long as you can remember. It’s almost like a dream. He feels too good to be true.

_______

In some ways, it feels like Sabres fans have won the lottery. How did this happen to us? To this franchise? Where did this billionaire come from, and why did he choose Buffalo? It’s like a little fairy tale. Yesterday we were just a lowly servant girl, and today, here we are, in the ballroom, in a beautiful dress, with a prince on our arm. How did this happen?

On the other hand, it was shockingly easy to relate to Terry Pegula today. He’s not a prince that came out of nowhere. He’s one of us. He’s one of us who got very rich, and who now has the chance to live a dream we’ve all had. What could be more fun, and more joyful than buying the Buffalo Sabres? How incredible was it to witness such an accomplished man, overwhelmed with emotion by a dream fulfilled? And then, AND THEN, how thrilling to think, “That’s exactly how I’d feel if I bought the Sabres. I feel you, Terry Pegula. I really do.”

It felt like WE were buying the Sabres today.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the word “ownership”. For the past few years under Golisano’s reign, it’s felt a little like the team owned us. In some sense, all sports fans are held captive by their love for their team. We have no control over the people running the teams that we love, and those people have every right to run things however they see fit. I believe strongly that Tom Golisano was, for the most part, a good owner. He kept the franchise healthy and robust. But we heard so much, too much, about the viability of the franchise, and insuring the future of the NHL in the region. We absolutely needed Golisano (and we thank him for the stability that he provided), but at the end of the day, he owned the Sabres, and we were just the customers. Winning was always secondary to the bottom line, and that was never a secret.

Today it felt like in some symbolic but significant way, ownership was transferred back to the fans. After all, Terry Pegula is one of us. He’s a Sabres fan. He stood before us and made us believe that for the first time in the history of the franchise, money is no object, and the only goal is a Stanley Cup.

Terry Pegula wants more from the players, and more from the coaching staff, and more from the scouts, and more from free agency, and more from trade deadline day. Tom Golisano always wanted more from us.

If Terry Pegula is to be believed, the success of this franchise will no longer be measured by the collective buying power of the fanbase. We, the fans of the Sabres, are more than enough for Terry Pegula’s purposes. From now on, success will only be measured in wins and losses, and hopefully someday, in Stanley Cups.

Today was a victory for Sabres fans. This new owner wants the same thing that we want, and he wants it just as badly. Hell, he might want it more. Terry Pegula said, “If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.” This isn’t about money. This is no longer about money. This is now about the very same things that made all of us into Sabres fans. This is about pride, and love, and passion, and community, but most of all, this is about ownership of something beautiful.

What I realized today is that you don’t have to be a billionaire to own the best of the Sabres. But you do have to be a fan.

Welcome to Buffalo, Terry Pegula. We’re so happy that you are here. Let’s get to work.


…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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