Archive for the 'Joyful' Category

Comeback To Me

Well.

That game really had it all, didn’t it? A shockingly easy-to-come-by lead, hilariously bad goaltending, the sense that nothing could ever go wrong again, a terrrrrrible second period, terror, Daniel fucking Briere, the sense that nothing would ever be right again, depression, MORE terror (I have to confess, I spent a lot of the 3rd period sitting in silence on my back stoop.  I literally couldn’t stand to watch), overtime, and then… bliss.

Wow.

This team is so young, and so surprising. I’ll admit, after the Flyers tied it, I went to a dark place. I did NOT think they would win this one. I lost a little faith. This is the type of game that I’ve seen them lose SO many times in my four years of fandom. But this team is different from the other teams. This team doesn’t give up, ever. I love that about them. They coughed up a three goal lead and then won in overtime. Hell, I didn’t even know that was possible. The other Sabres teams I’ve watched couldn’t have won this game. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was gutty. I’m still in happy shock that they won that game.

The Sabres never trailed during the game, but it felt like a comeback win. I lost a little bit of faith, but then it came back.

The playoffs are agonizing and wonderful. I can’t wait for Sunday.

I love this team.

Series Score, 2-2 WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I freaking love this. I love the Sabres. I love going to these games. I love being so effing nervous that I forget to breath.  I love the feeling of my body trying to relax and recover from the stress of the game during the intermission.  I love the fact that I’m still buzzed with adrenaline an hour after the game ends. I love it when Lindy is proud in the postgame interview. I love it when Nathan Gerbe is a honey badger. I love it when Mike Grier gets a scoring chance. I love it when Goose puts his head down and pumps his arms and skates as fast as he can. I love it when Tyler Myers knocks Briere over, repeatedly. I love it when Sabretooth has his little drum. I love the little “ding ding” sound that the ticket readers make as they scan the tickets. I love trying to decide which outfits are lucky. I love watching the players lean against the bench during the tv timeouts. I love that I have such a great view of Ryan Miller’s saves from my seats. I love whooping with victory on the escalators on the way out. I love my usher. I love listening to the postgame in the car on the way home (when they win, ONLY when they win). I love having a pom-pom. I love watching the out of town scoreboard. I love watching them fist-bump Sabretooth at the end of a game. I love how Niedermayer really IS better in the playoffs. I love the responsiveness of the crowd. I love how “Let’s go Buff-a-lo” twirls around the arena. I love that all around me I can hear people saying, “I can’t handle this stress,” when really, they can. I love drinking beers faster than I ordinarily would, because I’m nervous. I love watching the other half of the arena leap to their feet a split second sooner than us when the Sabres score on that end. I love how I manage to look from the ice to the clock, from the ice to the clock, a hundred times in those last 5 seconds. I love it when Ryan Miller is the hero. I love being with Buffalonians, all of us cheering for the same thing.

I love this.

Sabres vs. Flyer 4/8/11

I often have a difficult time writing about the biggest games. When the Sabres play a wild game with lots of different storylines, I find it difficult to focus a post.

I wish I was a better writer so I could describe to you how the game on Friday busted my heart right open.

Usually I write this blog with an audience in mind, but this post is mostly for myself.  I want to have a detailed description of this game.  I don’t care if I can’t figure out a way to package this post into one cohesive thought, I just want to have something to read later, to remind myself of the day the Sabres clinched their spot in the 2011 playoffs.

Going with Renee: Those of you who follow me on Twitter, know that until Thursday, I didn’t have tickets to the game.  (This may, or may not, be because at the beginning of the season, I may, or may not, have sold my tickets to a Flyers fan.  How could I have POSSIBLY predicted Pegula and Alumni/Fan Appreciation Night?!)  But, at the last-minute, Renee THE WONDERFUL, decided to bring me to the game.  Renee’s seats are AWESOME.  First row balcony, center ice.  I had so so so much fun watching the game and then celebrating the victory with Renee.

The alumni: I’m a new fan, and I’m naturally suspicious of nostalgia, so the alumni aspect of the evening wasn’t necessarily designed to cater to me, but, I’ve been feeling more and more attached to the history of the Sabres.  I was genuinely moved to see all of those men in Sabres uniforms on the ice. Once a Sabre, always a Sabre.  I’d like to think the alumni played a role in the win on Friday.  Somehow, all of the hopes and the dreams of every past Sabre were on the ice in the 3rd period.

Thomas Vanek: I know that Gerbe scored the goal of the year, but Thomas Vanek was the story for me. He made two passes to Pominville during the game that were so beautiful I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about them.  And then, of course, the OT goal, and the moment he spent plastered against the glass, celebrating, face-to-face with the front row. I am so proud to root for Thomas Vanek.

The guy sitting next to us: I was sitting next to a guy who came to the game alone, just because he felt he had to be there. I was strangely moved by this, probably because the day before, I’d been scrolling through Stub Hub, considering buying a single ticket to the game.  I understood where that guy was coming from, and I admire that he made it happen.  He DID have to be there.

He and I were of similar minds about the game.  We kept turning to each other, and saying determinedly, “One point.  We just need one point.”  There is something so special about bonding with a stranger over sports. It doesn’t happen with every Sabres fan I meet, but he and I seemed to have a similar Sabres-disposition, and at times it felt like we were working in tandem to will the Sabres to OT.  At the end of the night we shook hands, and thanked each other for the experience.

Lindy putting Miller in the 3rd Period: I could NOT have been more shocked and electrified when Ryan Miller skated out to start the 3rd period.  I loved it.  LOVED IT.  WHAT a move by Lindy Ruff.

As much as I loved Enroth’s performance during the stretch-run (and seriously, he saved the season), I always wanted Crunchy back. The shock factor of seeing him skate out for the 3rd cannot be overstated, and after the shock, came the charge of confidence. At least that’s how I experienced it. Lindy put it all on the line with that goalie change, and it paid off. The team responded. Miller is the backbone of this team. End of story. It was an amazing and truly gutsy move by Lindy.

Lindy in general: I have a new appreciation for Lindy Ruff. Even at my most critical, I’ve never doubted that on a fundamental level, Lindy is a good coach. But truthfully, I’ve mostly been taking your word for it, because I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by his work during my fandom. Things are different now. Now, I’ve seen firsthand what Lindy is capable of when he is firing on all cylinders. I seriously doubt I’ll ever be a, “he’s got a job for life” kind of Lindy fan, but I will never again call for him to be fired without a profound awareness of what we’d be losing if he got away.  It has been an honor and a treat to watch him work these last few months.

The last minute of regulation: Without question, when I think back on this game, my most prominent memory will be the last minute of regulation. It was such an oddity to see the Sabres and the Flyers essentially standing around, letting the clock run down. I will never forget the feeling of the arena, welling up with noise and pride, as we watched Tyler Myers twirl around with the puck. The Sabres came so far for that moment, and it was such an unexpected treat that we as spectators got to experience their clinch in one loud, glorious minute. Usually the last minute of an important game is terrifying, but this one was fearless and electric. I will never forget it. Ever.

Seeing SarahJess7 in the bathroom: Right after the game, as I was walking out of the bathroom, I heard someone say “Kate!” and I turned to see Sarah standing in line. In an instant we were hugging and screaming and jumping up and down. We behaved like children. It was a moment of pure joy, and a highlight from a night full of highlights.

Which brings me to my last, and most important, point

Harbor Club and Swanee House: The best thing about Friday night was how it felt like every time I turned around at the arena, I saw a friend.  From the plaza, to the very end of the night at The Swanee House, I laughed and celebrated with wonderful people.  The arena is starting to feel like home, and friendships that started online, are now relationships that I will cherish forever.

I cannot possibly express enough gratitude for the richness that the Sabres have added to my life in Buffalo.

Thank you, Sabres fans!

Speechless

I can’t even begin to explain or describe last night. I’m tempted to call it perfect.

I feel so lucky to have been in the arena for that game.  I’m so thankful that I got to celebrate with so many wonderful friends.  I am so incredibly in love with this team.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

I’m Not Scared!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the exchange that Lindy told us about in his postgame press conference on Tuesday.  Apparently, in the minutes after Tampa scored their third period goal to pull within one, Lindy sensed that the bench was tentative and jittery.  Lindy barked, “Are you scared?”   And one of the Sabres yelled back, “I’m not scared!”

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend that you watch Lindy’s postgame interview from the Tampa game.  This is Lindy Ruff at his best.  You can hear Lindy tell this little story starting at around the 2:00 mark.

I absolutely love this story, and I love how Lindy tells it.  For a brief second (it’s just a glimmer, really), Lindy looks like a proud father, and then, after he says, “I’m not scared,” he snaps back into coach-mode.  You can see the joy and pride in Lindy’s demeanor.  It’s so lovely.

Not to mention the quote.  “I’m not scared!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this story.  I’ve been trying to imagine which Sabres bellowed, “I’m not scared,” on the bench.  Anyone who was in the arena knows that the Sabres were scared.  Everyone was scared.  That Lightning goal wasn’t a catastrophe, but it made my stomach get all nervous.  I was scared.

But the Sabres took care of it.

“I’m not scared!”

I think that saying, “I’m not scared,” displays both vulnerability and bravery.  (Is there a difference between vulnerability and bravery, really?)  It’s both childlike and warrior-like.  I love it.  It feels so right for this particular Sabres team.

I’m going to try to work, “I’m not scared,” into my fandom.  For a second last night, when I realized that the Red Wings would not eliminate the Hurricanes on our behalf, an absurd fear briefly made an appearance in my throat.  “Oh, God.  What if they don’t make it?  What if they lose on Friday?  What if the Hurricanes win out?”  And then I stopped, and I imagined Goose, or Gerbe, or Pominville sitting on the bench in the middle of an important game, yelling, “I’m not scared,” and it made me smile.

Before the Tampa game, I was describing the Sabres games as “torturous”. That Hurricanes game almost killed me, and yet, at the same time, I’m starting to enter the arena thinking, “There is no way they can lose tonight. No way.”

It’s time to pick a side.

I don’t want to be anxious about these Sabres. Fear is completely unwarranted.  Look at Lindy up there, beaming with pride. He loves this. So should we. I just want to enjoy every minute of the games. And I’m not just talking about the games before they clinch the playoff, I talking about the playoffs too.

There is nothing to fear here.  There is only fun.

I’m not scared!

25 Things I Loved About the Game Last Night

In no particular order:

1. Pretty

2. Much

3. Every

4. Single

5. Thing,

6. But

7. Especially

8. The

9. Hat

10. Trick,

11. The

12. Extremely

13. Joyful

14. Winning,

15. And

16. The

17. Sense

18. That

19. Nothing

20. Can

21. Ever

22. Go

23. Wrong

24. Again.

25. WOOOOO!

 

This Is A Special Time to Be A Sabres Fan

I had the great pleasure of attending the game on Sunday with my friends Laura, Nate, and their adorable toddler, Lucas.  We sat at one of those little tables in the Harbor Club.  We had table service all evening, and Lucas had a little extra space to wiggle around.  The value of these perks canNOT be overstated.  I think everyone in our party agreed that sitting at a table for a game is AWESOME.  What you lose in proletarian camaraderie by not sitting with the riff-raff, you MORE than get back in chicken fingers and ice cream sundaes delivered to your seats.

What I’m trying to say is if you are a single man between the ages of 30-45, and you have seats in this section of the arena, you should be my boyfriend.  Actually, let’s expand the age range to 25-60.  These are special seats.  Ah, what the hell, you only live once… If you are a man OR a woman between the ages of 18-100, and you have seats in this section of the arena, call me. You won’t be sorry.

Since Lucas is the best 2-and-a-half-year-old boy IN THE WORLD, this is pretty much what he did for the entire game. He stood on his chair, leaned against the glass, and watched the game (he also danced when there was music playing). When the Sabres scored, he would scream and high five everyone. Actually, he did that when the Sens scored too, but he'd quickly take it back when we gave the goal the thumbs down sign and told him, "Sens are yuck!" They're raising this kid right, I tell ya.

I don’t very often do recaps of my experience at the arena anymore, but I feel compelled to write a few words about this particular afternoon, not just because I was sitting in fancy seats, but also because the atmosphere in the arena has been great recently.  It’s really difficult to quantify the change in attitude, but there’s no doubt it’s there.  The team has been playing very well, and the fanbase has been invigorated by the ownership change, and you can feel it in the arena.

This particular game was obviously out of the ordinary for two big reasons- 1. It was, in many ways, the first home game of the new ownership.  This was the first chance for Pegula and his team to really put their stamp on the game day experience.  And 2. The Sabres community was still reeling from the news of Rick Martin’s passing.

The news of Martin’s death was handled beautifully by the Sabres organization.  Rick Jeanneret’s recorded message was simple and elegant, and the moment of silence had weight.  It wasn’t just a perfunctory gesture to mark the occasion.  I was impressed, top to bottom, with how, in an extremely short amount of time, the Sabres staff handled the situation.

The game day experience was slightly different in a couple of other ways too.

Everyone got a free program when they came in the door.  I think this is an extremely nice (if not very environmentally friendly) gesture.  The program is very glossy and I enjoyed flipping through it.  I probably won’t take one for every game that I attend, but I do think it makes a nice souvenir for the fans (especially kids) who don’t come to many games.  I always try to stay cognizant of just how expensive it is for a family to attend a hockey game.  I come from fairly modest means myself, and while I was fortunate to get to go to a lot of Minnesota Twins games as a kid, we always did it on the cheap.  We sat in the cheap seats, and we kids knew not to even bother asking for souvenirs.  So, when I see a nice glossy program, with pictures of all the Sabres and all the Sens, it’s very easy to imagine my 9-year-old self treating it as a treasure.  I think I would’ve happily poured over that program as a kid.   Anything that the Sabres can do to make it easier and more fun for families to take their kids to a game, is a great idea in my book.  Not every kid who goes to a Sabres game gets the jerseys and the foam paws and all the bells and whistles, but every kid gets a fun, colorful program.  It’s nice.

Good work, Sabres!

There were a bunch of minor tweeks to the in-game presentation, and I won’t bother listing them all here, but overall I REALLY appreciate that Pegula’s team is freshening up the arena experience.  I’m not one to complain about specific songs, or pregame videos, but I’d love to see a little more variety at the games.  It’s interesting to me to think about this aspect of Sabres production.  I seriously doubt that the Sabres staff was working under the directive to “be boring” with Golisano and Quinn, but it’s cool to see how much a breath of fresh air can make a difference.  It’s possible that the Ted Black and Pegula have already expanded the budget for game-day production, but most of what I noticed in terms of change seemed primarily a product of a new burst of creativity.  If nothing else, the arena staff seems creatively invigorated and that makes me so so so so so happy.  I’ve often thought that in-game arena production, in the right hands, could be something akin to a REALLY awesome blog, just bursting with energy and genuine enthusiasm for the product.  If creativity is given free rein at HSBC Arena, I don’t see any reason why the game experience can’t continue to get more vibrant, funnier, and more exciting.  Presenting the games well is SUCH a good way of growing enthusiasm for the Sabres.

I do want to take the time to RAVE about one thing: after every goal, when they played the replay on the jumbotron they piped in RJ’s call along with the video.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this. It felt like I got to celebrate every goal twice; once when the Sabres scored it, and then 30 seconds later when I heard Jeanneret call it.  That second burst of energy that I got hearing RJ screech, “HE SCOOOOOoooOOOOoooRES!” just ramped up the happiness SO MUCH.  I absolutely LOVED it, and I REALLY hope the Sabres keep doing this.  (And just as an aside, I love the idea that the  players hear RJ’s call too.  I’ve often wondered if the players have a real sense of how RJ calls the game.  They’re on the ice, afterall, while Rick’s working.  I’m sure they’ve heard the odd call here or there as a soundtrack to their specific highlights, but I doubt they really have a feel for Rick Jeanneret.  For some reason, I just love the idea that someday Chris Butler might hear RJ squawk, “THE BUTLER DID IT!” while he’s celebrating a goal on the ice.  Rick Jeanneret means so much to us fans, and I’d love it if his voice become part of the memories that players take away from their goal celebrations.  I dunno, maybe I’m over romanticizing it, but really, I want players like Thomas Vanek to unconsciously associate their biggest on-ice triumphs with the sound of Rick Jeanneret’s voice.  It just seems right.)

I guess that’s all!  I had SUCH a wonderful time at the game on Sunday.  I love Laura and Nate and Lucas, and I love the Sabres. I won’t be at the game tonight, but sure wish I could be.

This is a special time to be a Sabres fan.  The changes we’re seeing, the responsiveness we’re getting to our suggestions, it all just makes me feel great about rooting for this team.

Twitterless: Day Two, “TWO POINTS, MOFOS!”

WE’RE CURRENTLY IN A PLAYOFF POSITION!!


Please read the following disclaimer before continuing:

DISCLAIMER: Almighty Hockey Gods, in no way, shape, or form is this post to be read as an assumption that the Sabres will be in a playoff position at the end of the year.  You are mighty and strong, and we know that you will rightfully smite those who take their playoff positions for granted.  The season is long, and there are still many games to be played.  Anything could still happen, which is why we will always remain faithful to your blessed word.  It is with great reverence to you that we celebrate the Sabres current position in the standings.   Thank you for sharing your wonderful game with us, mere mortals.  We pray to you for continued Sabres success.

For thine is the arena, and the slap shot, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

That said…

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

The Sabres are certainly not perfect (you might want to reconsider the “give up a two goal lead almost every night” strategy, fellas), but they’re ours, and they are so very very lovable these days.  The season IS long, and we still have quite a way to go, but I don’t think it’s wrong to take a little moment to celebrate how far they’ve come.  These guys have battled admirably for many weeks, and while the 8th place slot is just a symbol today (nothing more), I’m really proud of this team.

A few thoughts from the game:

- How freaking great is it that we have a real, honest-to-goodness NHL-caliber goalie to back up Crunchy?  The backup situation has been so fraught with danger for the last few years, and it’s just SO good to realize that Lindy doesn’t have to play Miller every night.  And best of all?  When Lindy doesn’t play Miller, they might still win.

- Perhaps it’s just that the games mean so much more now, but I’ve been very  impressed with these last few games from an entertainment standpoint.  Hockey is fun and fast and exciting again!  (That really might be the difference between November hockey and March Playoff Push hockey.)

- I VERY briefly surrendered to my desire to tweet during this game right after Niedermayer scored.  (I mean, come on. N-I-E-D-E-R-M-A-Y-E-R SCORED!  That’s a totally tweetable occasion.)  But, I promise, I didn’t even check my @replies.  I just got in and got out.  However, the Wild almost immediately scored two goals.  So, fear not Sabres fans, I will not be tweeting again during my sabbatical, no matter how many goals Niedermayer scores before next Saturday.  The Hockey Gods still allowed the Sabres to win, so my indiscretion was apparently forgiven, but I shant make the same mistake twice.

- STAFF-Y!  STAFF-Y!  STAFF-Y!  That was a pretty foxy goal, no?

- Seriously though.  They need to stop giving up two goal leads.

- I’m still surprised to see Boyes out there with Vanek.  Every time I see him, I think, “DAMN!  LOOK AT MAIR GO!”  Unlike the other recent trade deadline day acquisitions, Boyes is, um, actually making a difference.  He is making the offense better, which is obviously exactly what he’s supposed to do. I was thinking the other day about how one of the problems with being a Sabres fan in recent years is this sense that we’re constantly losing good players and not replacing them.  Look at what Darcy just did!  He went out and got us a good player!  Just like that.

- That opening goal with Vanek to Pommers to Montador to Pommers was so so so so so pretty.  SO PRETTY.

- There was a sort of funny officiating moment tonight.  There was a play where the Wild were cycling the puck in the Sabres end (they might have been on the power play at the time), and the puck came verrrrry close to popping out.  The lineman ruled it out, but he did so by going down on one knee right on the blue line and VERY emphatically gesturing “OUT OUT OUT!”  It was very theatrical.  Then, the ref came over and helped the linesman to his feet and tapped him on the butt for good measure.  It was a pretty tough call (I thought the puck stayed in, actually), but I really enjoyed the linesman’s flamboyance.  I like it when the officials are a little dramatic.  This is show business, baby.

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.

Happy Pegula Day!

It’s a happy day, Sabres fans!  Today, at long last, our new owner/leader/chief/BFF ascends to the throne.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

All of the balloons we released in mid-July last year said, “Get here soon, billionaire-we’ve-not-yet-heard-of!  Get here soon!”  Our balloon-release/organized-wish-making WORKED, Sabres fans!  He got our messages, and now he’s HERE!

We’ve had a lot of fun with the approaching press conference on Twitter the last few days.  Only a crazy person would believe all of the hype about Pegula, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the sense of celebration among Buffalonians.  Who knows what the future actually holds, but this is one of those rare opportunities when dreaming big is totally warranted. I think Paul said it best last night when he said,

Don’t try and put Pegula in perspective now. Plenty of time for that in a few years. Just have fun with it now.

I’ll be celebrating Pegula Day in Canada, looking at reasonably priced furniture at IKEA, as the Hockey Gods intended for the people to celebrate Pegula Day.  But you can rest assured, I’ll catch up as fast as I can this afternoon.

A new era begins today.  WOOOOOOO!

Happy Pegula Day!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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