Archive for the 'Ville Leino' Category

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.

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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.

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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.

7 Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello.

Okay, the initial burst of free agency is over, and while we’re all still holding our breaths for the magical all-our-bad-players-in-exchange-for-Malkin trade of our dreams, it’s time to take stock of the current situation. Who’s in and who’s out?

______

OUT: Mark Mancari

Mark Mancari, I absolutely refused to give up on you, and I’m sad you’ve moved on.  I’ll miss you… not so much your playing (which always seemed super fabulous to me, actually), but definitely your tall swarthiness.  Good luck in Vancouver, and don’t party too hard at the Roxy.

Mark Mancari

Now the Sabres don't have a player who looks like he might moonlight as a pirate. :(

_______

IN: Robyn Regehr

I’m totally, totally psyched that we’re going to have a stay-at-home, punchy defenseman named “Robyn” on the Sabres.  Thanks for waiving your no trade clause, Robyn. Please let me apologize in advance for your new nickname, which is “Sloth”. Yes, you do remind me a teensy-tiny bit of that guy from the Goonies, but I assure you, “Sloth” is a term of affection at my house.  There is no one I’d rather have on my side in case of a Mama Fratelli-related emergency than you, Robyn. Welcome to the team!

"Baby Ruuu-th?"

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OUT: Rob Niedermayer

Dude Nieds, I finally learned how to spell your name, and then you had to go and move to Switzerland.

Well, thanks for that one goal you scored that one time! (No, but seriously, thanks for getting waaaay better in the playoffs. That was awesome. Hopefully some of these scrubs learned a thing or two from you.)

He's the best looking of all the Niedermayers!

______

IN: Ales Kotalik

Wait….what?

Um...okaaaay.

______

OUT: Steve Montador

This one stings a bit. There are just some guys you like, and Steve Montador is one of those guys. I wanted him to stay, and I feel a little bit like Monty got the shaft. I mean, he was totally a part of the Sabres bridge from suckiness to not-so-suckiness, and it doesn’t feel fair that he got the heave-ho. On the other hand he signed a FAT contract in Chicago, so I think he’ll survive without us just fine. (I fully expect for Monty to start showing up in the background of all the, “Patrick Kane Is On Another Bender” articles on Deadspin. As the designated driver, or course.) Good luck, Monty. Thanks for being all-around awesome, and also for wearing that CHIPS outfit at the Catwalk for Charity.

Shaone Morrisonn and Steve Montador

Nice

IN: Ville Leino

Ville Leino, I have a good feeling about this signing, but man, Darcy took a big chance on you. I know that when Darcy said, “I’d like to offer you $27 million dollars, but only if you like playing center,” the only sane response was, “I don’t like playing center, I LOVE playing center,” but, you better be good at playing center. Seriously.

I don’t really know how to tell you this, but you’re sort of the new Vanek in that we-can’t-afford-anyone-else-because-we-gave-all-our-money-to-you sort of way.

Uh, no pressure or anything though.

This expression bodes well.

OUT: Tim Connolly

Bye, Timmeh. Thanks for… everything. I wish things had ended differently, I really do. Mostly I wish you’d gone to, like, the Panthers or some team like that, so I could safely say “good luck,” but now you’re a disgusting Leaf, so you’ve left me no choice but to say, “I hope you never win again.”

Timmm-mehhh

IN: Christian Ehrhoff

This is the contract that really signaled that this is a new era of Sabres hockey. This contract completely blew my mind. Ehrhoff’s contract is mega-cap-circumvent-y and it (theoretically) extends until the end of time.The assumption is that eventually they’ll just buy him out, but still. It completely rocks my world-view that of all the current Sabres, Ehrhoff is the one slated to be around for the longest. In ten years I’ll be forty-five years old which is impossibly old. Surely I’ll be dead by then, right?

Get used to this face, because we’re going to have hoverboards before his contract is up again.

OUT: Chris Butler

There is NOTHING not to love about Chris Butler. I’ll miss you, Butts. Have fun in Calgary, and thanks for being such a good Sabre. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say about you, but this post is going on forever, and I’m really getting tired of writing it. The good thing about you is that I doubt you’ll mind. You seem like such a good sport about this sort of thing.


Good old Butts.

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So, that’s where we stand. We’ve said our goodbyes, and we’ve welcomed the newcomers. I, for one, am ready for the new season to begin!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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