Archive for the 'Jochen Hecht' 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.

The Bandwagoner’s Guide to the Sabres, Part Three: The Forwards

The concept of “the bandwagon fan” is very controversial, but I have a fondness in my heart for the new fan.  After all, it was at this time of year that I myself hopped on the Sabres bandwagon.  Every fan has to start somewhere, and often fandom is inspired by the playoffs.  The current Sabres may not feel like a bandwagon-y situation to a longtime fan, but I’m writing this series for the “Katebitses of 2007″; the guy or gal who is suddenly drawn to the Sabres, but doesn’t know where to begin.

Begin here, Bandwagoner!

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We’ve already covered the goalie and the defense, so, today we wade into far murkier waters.  Today, we grit our teeth, roll up our sleeves, and get to work trying to decipher the mystery that is the Sabres corp of forwards.

Part Three: The Forwards

The primary role of the forward is to score goals.  Oh sure, Lindy is going to go on and on about defensive responsibility and blah blah blah, but the fact of the matter is, to varying degrees, these guys are paid to score.  When they don’t score, we are cranky with them.  When they do score, we love them.

-”Lines”

Forwards play in lines of three.  Every line has a center, and two wingers (left and right).  I invite you pay not one speck of attention to who is playing what position.  I’ve never bothered to figure this out, and I don’t think it’s hurt my enjoyment of the game in the slightest.  If faceoffs are what floats your boat (*raises hand*), you should pay special attention to the centers, but other than that, it’s all the same to you.

Some teams have fixed lines, and others don’t.  The coach of the Sabres, Lindy Ruff, tinkers with the lines quite a bit, so you never really know who you’re going to see together on the ice.  Just when you think you’ve figured out the method to his madness you’re all, “…..whaaa?  Is Ellis playing with Vanek and Roy?”  Line watching can be confusing.  When you first start watching hockey, it’s best not to get too bogged down with the construction of the lines, but I CAN highly recommend focusing on the bench to watch them hop over the boards for the line changes.  Board hopping can be foxy, and so can Lalime when he opens and closes the little bench door for the tinier Sabres.

There are several different kinds of lines:

Scoring Lines: The top two lines are the scoring lines, and they are expected to score.  Duh.

Checking line: The checking line is usually the third line, and these guys are often sent out there to neutralize the other team’s top offensive threats.  These guys are certainly welcome to score, and we love it when they do, but really, their job is to slam into the other team and make life difficult for them.

Energy Line: The energy line is usually the 4th line, or as I like to call them, “The Scrubs”.  The Scrubs are not expected to score, and they’re not even really expected to be any good at hockey, but they ARE expected to play really, really hard.  They are expected to play every shift like it might be their last in the NHL (in many cases, it really might be).  They are expected to hit really hard, to not take penalties, not bitch about being a healthy scratch, and, if called upon, to fight in order to protect the “Top Six”.   Personally, I think these guys are kind of a hoot (at a recent game I turned to Robin and said, “Mair and Ellis are stunningly good at keeping control of the puck in the offensive zone for DAYS at a time without ever actually taking a shot on net,” but lots of people get super pissy about them and like to wail continually on Twitter for their dismissal.

Now, onto the actual Sabres players.

Long ago, back when I was a bandwagoner just like you,  my innocent eyes set upon Chris Drury, and my fate was sealed.  It was love at first sight.  My Chris Drury appreciation played a HUGE role in my eventual hardcore hockey fandom.  One look at that thick, dark beard, one interview, and one last-second goal against the Rangers, and I was hooked.  At the time, Chris Drury was the captain of the team, he was the obvious leader in the locker room, and he was constantly scoring clutchy goals.  He was an obvious and perfectly acceptable first favorite player.  Any Sabres fan would have approved.  Chris Drury was an extremely safe choice. (Unfortunately, Chris Drury proved to be a revolting Ranger who is not worth one third of the money he is getting paid.  But that’s a story for another day….)

Sadly for you, Dear Bandwagoner, these are not the simple times of 06/07.  The forward situation is confusing, but I’m here to help.

-The “Top” Six

The Sabres pride themselves on “balanced” scoring (meaning their scoring is fairly evenly distributed throughout the lineup).  Balanced scoring can be a real advantage.  If the other team has no idea which Sabre is the most likely to score, the Sabres can be very difficult to defend against.  But “balanced scoring” might just be a polite way of saying “lacking a true offensive threat”.  I just looked it up, and the Sabres were 10th in the league in scoring this season (I KNOW.  IT BLEW MY MIND TOO), so, they really did score plenty of goals  Because of this “balance” it can be a little difficult to identify our top six.  Players float in and out of the top six based on their performance and Lindy’s whims.

Some teams have Thornton, Heatley and Marleau.  We’ve got these guys.

(But we love them.)  (Mostly.)

Thomas Vanek. Had bad year. I want to love him because he costs $7mil per year and he's all we can afford now. Capable of putting the entire team on his back.

Derek Roy. Ew. Can be awesome, often chooses not to be.

Jason Pominville. Often good. Girls love him, boys can be grumpy about him (just jealous). Cute as a bugs ear.

Tim Connolly. Very good at hockey. Creative player. Most likely has cooties.

Jochen Hecht. He was good, then he sucked, now he's good again. Shy likeability is his trademark. Might be injured for start of the playoffs (girly fingers).

Drew Stafford. Brain-eating zombie? Probably. Concussed. Definitely. Poor guy. "Morrre Braaains" Very rarely plays on top six now that I think about it.

Of this crew, your best bets are Connolly and Vanek.  Vanek has been heating up, and when he gets hot he really is a sight to behold. (He can make that $7 million price tag look like a bargain.)  So, Vanek could be a perfect player to set your bandwagon-y sights upon.  As for Tim Connolly, now this was before my time, but his entire legend was built on one playoff series back in 2006.  Apparently he was amazing until he got his brains scrambled, so I’m figuring he might have high playoff potential now that he’s allegedly healthy.

- Checkers, Grinders, and other assorted misfits

Tim Kennedy. Rookie. Does not look like this anymore. Now he looks like a toothless, greasy hoodlum.

Paul Gaustad. Beloved HONKer. Hard hitter. Funny looking skater. Everyone in Buffalo wants to marry him.

Mike Grier. Is a grown-up. Hard worker. Has probably played a bigger role in returning the team to respectability than he's getting credit for.

Nathan Gerbe. Is currently on the team, but probably won't be come playoff time. That flavor-saver is gross, Gerbs.

Matt Ellis. Got his roster photo taken from waaaaay across the room. Total scrub, but an appealing scrub.

Adam Mair. Less appealing as far as scrubs go, but I don't understand all the squawking for him to be fired. He'll punch you right in the face.

Of these guys, Goose is the clear choice.  Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, everyone will just nod and say “me too,” when you announce that you intend to marry Paul Gaustad.  Mike Grier is another perfectly acceptable favorite, but the problem with him is that he’s only signed through the season and he may very well leave town all, “Screw you guys, I’m going home,” in a few months.  It’s difficult to tell if Mike Grier loves us back. He’s risky that way.

-The Wildcards.

These are the guys that defy categorization.

Tyler Ennis. Might be the next big thing. Might not. *fingers crossed*

Raffi Torres. Darcy gets us one of these guys every year at the trade deadline. Torres is this year's model.

Patrick Kaleta. Pest. Hard hitter. If he were on any other team, we'd hate him passionately. But he's a Sabre, a native Buffalonian, and he's QUITE good at his job, so we pretty much love him. Plus, he seems sweet in a dopey puppy kind of way. Don't try to fight him. You'll just wind up penalized.

Of these three guys, Kaleta is the clear choice.  If you try to talk up Ennis when you’re really just a bandwagon fan, you’re going to sound like a major tool.  If you try to talk up Torres you’re going to get blank stares.  But Patrick Kaleta is the perfect choice for a new fan.  He’s VERY visible on the ice, and almost everyone in town loves him.

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Good golly.  That was a lot about the forwards. I hope that clears things up!

Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to discuss the coaches and management.

5 Things

1. The Sabres were so GOOD yesterday (except for the 3rd period but I’m totally cutting them slack for that because it was their second game in 24 hours, and because I just love them right now).  I know it’s been safe to think “playoffs” for weeks, but I think last night was the first time it really sunk in with me.  For the first time in my fandom, the Sabres (OUR Sabres) are going to make the playoffs!  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  And I will have tickets to the home games!  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  This is a big deal for me.

2. This is SUCH a big deal for me, that yesterday I told my BFF Janz that I could NOT play on his concert series on April 14th because there is a possibility that the playoffs will begin that night.  And hilariously, Janzie completely understood why I would make that choice.  He wasn’t necessarily happy about it, but he got it.  For me, being a Sabres fan has been filled with moments like, “If I could go back to 2007 and tell my myself then how my life would be in 2010…,” but really, this one takes the cake.

To recap: I told Janz I didn’t want to play Brahms B-flat sextet (which is one of my favorite pieces EVER written) because there is a possibility that a hockey team would be playing the first game in a series of seven, and Janz, who knows me extremely well, was all, “Oh, yeah. Sure. That makes perfect sense.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m at an age and stage of life where everything is all set, and I trick myself into thinking there are no more big shifts ahead.  Of course this is REDONKULOUS, and I know this is redonkulous, but thinking about how much hockey has changed my life makes me excited about what might be around the next bend.  I mean, honestly.

3. I think Panera is hugely overrated.   I would say that I have no idea why everyone loves it so much, except for the fact that I think their egg soufflé is the most delicious thing on the entire planet.  So basically, my position on Panera is that I hate it, except for the egg soufflé, which is my favorite food in history of time and space.

4. I wrote this post about Jochen Hecht in September of 2008, and I refer back to it frequently when thinking about Yo-Yo.  Last year was obviously a rough one for Yo-yo, but he’s been quietly putting together a pretty good year for himself.  I hadn’t really thought about it until yesterday, but his return to defensive respectability might be playing a BIG role in the Sabres’ season.  Probably much bigger than we give him credit for.  Like I said in that post, Jochen Hecht is someone who seems to WANT to be taken for granted.  It’s somehow a part of his persona.   But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sit up straight and take notice when he has a game like he did yesterday.  Hecht’s first goal was extra sexy because it’s was so out of character for him.  It was as if Clark Kent accidentally pulled a Superman move without first removing his nerd glasses.

5. I wrote this on Twitter last night:

Yikes. I didn’t even notice that Torres was out today. Of course, I didn’t particularly miss MacArthur either. So…whatever.

I’m tempted to call Torres a bust, but it’s not like we have a gaping hole where MacArthur used to be in the lineup.  Plus, there will be playoff this year (PLAYOFFS!) and who knows how Torres might come in handy in the playoffs.  I keep thinking about him like I think about Dominic Moore in retrospect, but it’s silly.  Torres will have a much bigger opportunity to step up than Moore every had.  Darcy didn’t get Torres for the regular season, he got him for the playoffs.  Now, there certainly isn’t any reason to expect that Torres will suddenly be a visible force in the playoffs, all I’m saying is that I think it’s too soon to get all frothy about him.  Unlike it was with Moore, Torres and Lindy have a few more weeks to try to make this work.

Free Agency, Day 2

(Darcy and Larry Quinn are lounging around a fancy office.  Darcy is leaned all the way back in a chair with his feet up on the desk, and Larry is laying face down, draped over a couch on the other side of the room. A phone is ringing.)

*ring*

Darcy: I’m bored.

Larry: Me too. (pause) I can’t wait for the fireworks this weekend.

*ring*

*ring*

Darcy: Fireworks are awesome.

*ring*

Larry: (Picking head up from couch) Would you PLEASE answer that phone.

Darcy: YOU answer it.

Larry: Dude, I’m the boss of you.  Answer it.

*ring*

*ring*

Darcy: It’ll stop in a minute.

*ring*

Larry: Do you have any gum?

Darcy: No…..chewed it. (snaps gum)

*ring*

*ring*

*ring*

Larry: Who do you think that is calling?

Darcy: I dunno.  Probably some GM.  They’ve been hassling me all day.

Larry: Ugh.  I hate those guys.

*ring*

*ring*

(Jochen Hecht bursts into the room)

Hecht: OH MY GOD WILL SOMEONE ANSWER THE FLIPPING PHONE?!  IT’S BEEN RINGING FOR TWENTY MINUTES!

(Darcy and Larry don’t move except to lift their heads to look at Hecht)

Larry: Answer it yourself, Fritz.

(Hecht sighs dramatically and picks up phone)

Hecht: (into phone) Darcy Regier’s office, this is Jochen Hecht speaking.  (looks down at Darcy Reiger who nearly horizontal in his chair and blowing bubbles with his gum) No….he’s not available right now.  Can I take a message?  (begins scribbling things down on a pad) Okay, okay, I’ve got it.  Thank you Mr. Burke, I’ll have him call you right back.  Goodbye.

Darcy: (not moving) The Burkinator.  That dude is kuh-RAZY.   What did he want?

Hecht: (reading directly off notepad) Check your email….asswipe.  Schenn for Tallinider is off the table.

Larry: HAHAHA!  Brian Burke called you an asswipe, Darce.

Darcy: (mumbling) Whatever.

Hecht: (tosses pad onto desk in disgust) Shouldn’t you guys BE WORKING?!

Larry: We ARE working. (pause) We just took a call from Brian Burke.

Hecht: No you DIDN’T!

Darcy: Jochen, this is my quiet genius at work, okay?  If you don’t like it, maybe you should go play for another team. (sarcastically) Oh wait….You CAN’T, can you?   Nobody WANTS you on their team, do they?

Larry: Heh.  Your contract is untouchable, dude.

(Pause)

Darcy: I’m hungry.

Larry: Me too.

Darcy: Oooh.  You wanna get Jim’s for lunch, Lare?

(Larry leaps off the couch)

Larry: HELLZ YEAH I DO!

(Darcy leaps out of chair)

Darcy: WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(Darcy and Larry high five and start a conga line out of the office)

End Scene

TWC Top-To-Bottom Review: Jochen Hecht

(This is the third post in a series which will evaluate the Sabres organization, one man at a time.  Larry’s Quinn’s internal review is the Official Worst Top-To-Bottom Review EVER.  I’m conducting my own review, to show Larry how it’s done.)

Name: Jochen Hecht, aka Yo-yo

Position: Forward

Number of years with the Sabres organization: Hecht joined the Sabres from the Oilers in 2002.  I’m not sure if Darcy traded for him, or if Yo-yo just stood outside the HSBC arena screen door yowling until Lindy let him in and gave him a bowl of milk.

Number of years remaining on contract: infinity

Cap hit: $3.525 million

Career high point: In 06/07 Jochen score 19 goals and 37 assists for a career high 56 points.

Career low point: In 08/09, Jochen scored 23 own-goals and was a -87.  *not totally true

Areas of strength: well-coiffed porcupine hair, somehow scoring while standing behind the net and bouncing the puck off no less than five obstacles, talking like a duck, overall handsomeness and appealing shyness, starring contests

Area of weakness: hockey

2008/09 grade: H-   Something went horribly, horribly wrong.

General comments: Yo-yo is a “Lindy Ruff” kind of player.  Lindy loves him (or at least he did).  Last year during the rotating captaincy, Yo-Yo was one of two players who wore the “C” twice (Soupy was the other), and this season, Jochen Hecht wore an “A” all year long.  Allow me to repeat that….JOCHEN HECHT WORE A LETTER ALL SEASON LONG.  (Sidenote: During the preseason, Heather and I joked that Lindy liked to attach the captain’s letters to the jerseys with velcro so that he could rip them off the chests of errant players in disgust.  The mental image of walking up to Jochen Hecht, and ripping off his “A” and then tossing it dramatically onto the ground is almost too tantalizing to bear.)

I don’t know what happened to Hecht this year, but it wasn’t pretty.  Until this year he was known as a hard working, no nonsense, defensive forward.  Never the flashiest, grittiest, or most skilled guy on the ice, but definitely a guy you could count on if you needed to protect a one goal lead with a minute left in the third.

But then this year, he became….wrong.  This season, Jochen looked lost, frantic, insecure, and cautious.  His previously tolerated lack-of-offensive-finesse became glaring in the face of his sloppy defensive play.   His level of play ranged from “Do you think Yo-yo is playing with an injury?” to “I’m going to break his legs myself.  Please…..just get that guy off the ice.”

I think it’s interesting to note that one of Lindy’s “favorites”, a player who has always seemed to have Lindy’s faith and trust, turned into a gigantic pile of flaming poo this season.  Many people around town are quick to blame Jochen’s rapid decline on his new contract, and there could definitely be some merit to that theory, but he signed that contract in October of ’07.  He played a full, productive season with that contract in place.  He just doesn’t seem like a “phone it in” kind of player to me.  He seems like a “trouble starts, and then if it’s not properly addressed, that trouble snowballs into an unstoppable-nightmare-of-a-season,” kind of guy to me.  To my eye, his trouble didn’t stem from lack of effort.  He just looked INCREDIBLY, and inexplicably, bad at hockey.

I suspect I’m going to take some heat for this in the comments, but I’m going to say it anyway: More than anyone else on the Sabres, to me, Jochen Hecht looked like he was poorly coached this season. There are plenty of Sabres who I am willing to hang the “lazy, soft, and coddled” tag on, but Yo-yo really isn’t one of them.  To me, he looked like a guy who desperately needed some help and guidance- help that never came.  His role on the team was never really adjusted, he was never really benched, he never lost his letter, and it wasn’t until the veeeery end of the season that he even looked remotely capable of getting out of his funk.

Obviously, I don’t know really know how Hecht went from to projected-future-captain-of-the-Sabres to the-guy-whose-contract-looks-the-scariest, but he did.  And it sucks.

REQUIRED SUMMER HOMEWORK: The good news about my odd faith in Yo-yo’s work ethic is that there IS hope of a recovery.  As long as this season wasn’t some indication of a general unwillingness to play with urgency, then he might not have to suck forever.  The bad news about my odd faith in Yo-yo’s work ethic is that it means that there is something really, reeeeally wrong with his game.  Hopefully it’s just an injury, and he’ll spend the summer rehabbing in secrecy.

In order to return to form, Jochen must complete the following tasks:

1. Purchase and complete “Feeling Good“.  When I was in college, my viola professor very famously assigned “Feeling Good” to wayward students.  It was both a badge of honor, and a terrible, damning shame to be assigned “Feeling Good”.  “Feeling Good” from my viola teacher represented both a declaration that “I still believe in you.  You can turn this around,” and “You are about to get your sorry ass kicked out of school.  Pull it together, kid.”

2. Watch Hoosiers, Rudy, Mighty Ducks, Bull Durham, and Rocky over and over again all summer long.

3. Go to Germany, and stay there.  DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH ANY OTHER SABRES FOR THE DURATION OF THE SUMMER.   (I’ll deal with his teammates later, but Yo-yo MUST be quarantined.)

4. Sky dive.

5. Do 400 hours of community service, preferably working with economically disadvantaged people.

6. Learn to play the didgeridoo.   Give a recital.

7. Stop talking like a duck.  Get speech therapy if necessary.

5 Things

1. I’ve been quite frustrated watching the Sabres games without Vanek.  Obviously, he’s a good player to have around, and a large part of my discontent has been because of Vanek’s absence, but something about the way Lindy’s been reconstructing the lines has left me feeling, like, “Um….do we have any good forwards?  Why do all these lines make me sad?”   Normally, I’m not much of a line watcher.  I don’t pay super close attention to who is playing with who, but without Vanek things have felt WAY off, not just on the first line, but on ALL the lines.

You know how over the course of the game you begin to anticipate, and wait for the first line to come out?  Well, it turns out, hockey is less fun without a legitimate first line.  Over the past two weeks it’s felt like the Sabres NEVER rolled out a line that made me sit up straight and go, “WOOOOOOO!  Here we go!”

Connolly, Roy and Stafford seem like the most obvious combination of currently potent players, and they were on the ice together for two goals last night, so I really hope Lindy keeps them together.  We need at least one, functional, scoring line.  The idea of spreading out the guys who are playing well in the hopes of “sparking” some of the slumping guys is just NOT going to work.

Of course, it’s really not fair to judge Lindy’s lines when two of his supposedly reliable forwards are in such deep, deep ruts. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville need to be quarantined- for their own protection and for the protection of their teammates.  I’m not here to point fingers.  I don’t know who infected who, but Pommer and Yo-Yo are CLEARLY and UTTERLY diseased.

quarantine6

Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?

We have young, impressionable players on our roster right now.  Do we want Chris Butler, or Nathan Gerbe catching that suck?  Paille and MacArthur have already displayed symptoms, but they might still be salvageable.  What if (GOD FORBID) after he’s finally pulled it together, Drew Stafford catches the suck?  We canNOT afford the risk.  Drastic measures must be taken.  Hecht and Pominville must be separated from the general Sabres populace until we understand more about this horrific and debilitating sucking disease.

3. For whatever reason, I’m more sympathetic to Pominville than I am to Hecht.  Say what you want about Pommerdoodle, but he’s got 47 points so he hasn’t been totally worthless even when his defensive play is highly questionable.  I said in Heather’s comment thread today that my sense is that Pominville is slumping, but that Hecht is sliding into a pit of despair from which he might never return.   Don’t get me wrong, they have both been completely terrible, but Yo-Yo’s particular brand of ass-tastic seems disturbingly terminal.

4. Reading over this post I’m realizing how negative it sounds, and I just thought I should say that I enjoyed the game last night.  It was zippy, and if it weren’t for that meddling Mike Richards, we very well might have snatched those two points.  For the most part I thought the Sabres looked like a reasonably respectable NHL team.  (Except for Yo-Yo and Pommerdoodle who looked like Timbits.) (And not the hockey-playing Timbits.) (Last night Pominville and Hecht looked like donut holes.) (Donut holes who really suck at hockey.)

5. After writing a Sabres blog for a year and half, I am proud to report that I have FINALLY learned how to spell H-E-C-H-T. It’s such a short name, but for some reason I could NEVER remember how to spell “Hecht”. Thanks to his currently vomitous play, and the need to write his name repeatedly, I’ve finally learned how to spell “Hecht” once and for all. I promise you, I will NEVER learn how to spell “Paetchsetahscetahsecth”.

Let’s Blow This Baby Up

I’m kind of a drama queen when it comes to the Sabres (although oddly, I’m not a drama queen in any other area of my life), so I felt a little bit of vindication when I made my morning blog rounds today.  It seems I’m not the only person who thought that that was THE WORST HOCKEY GAME IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE.  I mean, I’ve seen the Sabres suck plenty of times before, but that game last night was an abomination.  I’m not sure that either team successfully completed a pass all night.  I will forever remember that game as ten guys standing in the middle of the rink kicking the puck around randomly with their skates.  For all I know, they didn’t even USE hockey sticks last night.

But the details about last night are neither here nor there.  The main point is that the Sabres are not a good hockey team.  I’ll admit, I’ve lost ALL patience for waiting around for this particular group of guys to pull it together.  It’s not going to happen.  Drastic steps must be taken.

I’m not ordinarily the type of blogger to play the role of GM.  I don’t feel very confident with my hockey analysis, but this situation has inspired me to go out on a limb and write a serious post about what I would do if I were the GM of the Sabres.  In my opinion, this team needs a major shake-up.

Here are the moves I would make:

Tim Connolly should be retired and sent to a farm to live out his remaining years grazing peacefully.  It’s the most humane solution at this point.

Drew Stafford should be traded for Evgeni Malkin.

Derek Roy‘s talent should be surgically extracted and implanted into Paul Gaustad.  This is a dangerous scheme because there’s a risk that Goose could be infected with some of Roy-Z’s personality as well as his talent (that, of course, would be disastrous/tragic), but I’m sure we can all agree that a Goose/Roy-Z hybrid would be a useful player to have around.  I think it’s worth the risk.  After the talent transferring procedure, the now talentless Derek Roy can become Goose’s personal assistant.  Everyone wins….except Goose, who now has a talentless Derek Roy following him around all the time.

Ryan Miller needs his glass eye removed and replaced with a real eye.  He’s done pretty well with one glass eye, considering, but it’s clear that he needs two good eyes to compete in the NHL.  He might as well get his wonky eyebrow re-cocked while he’s at it.

Jason Pominville needs to be taken off the point on the power play.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman need to be sent out into the deep forest and each be given a match, a single bottle of water, and a penknife.  They have 48 hours to hunt and kill the other.  Whoever comes out alive gets to keep his job.

Thomas Vanek should be paid $7.1 million dollars per year for the next six years.

Clarke MacArthur should be traded to the Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Max Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik should be melted down and then recast as Christmas tree ornaments which the Sabres wives and girlfriends can then sell in the concourse to benefit charity.

Andrew Peters should be waived and Adam Mair should start actively practicing punching people and being punched in return.

Patrick Kaleta should be sent to Portland, and Danny Paille should start actively practicing being really, really annoying.

Nathan Paetsch should be traded for Nicklas Lidstrom.

Craig Rivet should be returned to the San Jose Sharks.  This is a mercy trade made of behalf of Rivet who is probably looking at his old team with extreme longing right about now.  This poor dude was living a perfectly happy life in California a few months ago, and now, through no fault of his own, he’s the CAPTAIN of this train wreck.  Poor dude.  I want to set him free.

Mark Mancari, Nathan Gerbe, and Tim Kennedy should all be given trial jobs with the Sabres, but they should be FORBIDDEN from socializing with any of their elder teammates.  Everyday after practice they should be chauffeured to their grim apartments at the Extended Stay America off the 290, and supervised for the remainer of the day.  If any of them even glances wistfully at Chippewa St, they should be automatically fired/executed.

Teppo Numminen should be compelled to retire so that he may begin some sort of job which involves him standing behind the bench with James Patrick looking foxy in a well tailored suit.

Jaroslav Spacek should call a press conference and then bite the head off the pigeon so that we never have to hear about that dumb thing again.  (This isn’t so much of a personnel move as it is a personal request from me to Jaro.)

——-

So that’s what I would do if I were GM.

KFS II, Attempting to Right What Once Went Wrong: Jochen Hecht

Alright, this is going to be a controversial one.

Last year I was all over the map with Jochen in the KFS competition.  First I eliminated him with nary a thought or care, then I reinstated him thinking that he might be The One, and then I eliminated him again when I realized he was (at the time) unsigned beyond the season.  After a full year of watching Yo-Yo, I feel I am finally in a postition to make an informed and fair ruling on his status as Kate’s Potential Favorite Sabre.  As you read this, please know that I respect and admire Jochen Hecht very much.  I wish only the very best for him and his family, and I would never treat an actual human being the way I am about to suggest is the proper way to treat Jochen Hecht.

Let’s begin….

Jochen Hecht is obviously a valuable member of the Sabres.  He’s hardworking, reliable, very handsome, and downright captainly.  He’s also signed as a Sabre for a goodly amount of time (“goodly” being some unit of years that I am too lazy to look up right now).  There is literally nothing not to like about Jochen Hecht.  He should be a front runner in Kate’s Favorite Sabre Competition….but sadly, he is not.

It is my theory that Jochen Hecht was born to be taken for granted.  I don’t have any overwhelming feelings of affection for Yo-Yo, and yet, if he were suddenly gone, I would be devastated.  He falls firmly into that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” category, but the thing is, he’s not gone and he won’t be gone for quite some time, so it’s my feeling that we should just go right ahead and take him for granted.

Jochen Hecht is the guy you call when your asshole boyfriend did something lame.  Jochen will come over, he’ll bring take-out, and he’ll patiently sit on the couch listening to you whine and cry over another guy.  He’s the guy you call to get up on a ladder and get the dead bird out of your rain gutter because the task is too gross and scary to do yourself.  He’s the guy you ask to feed your cat while you’re weekending in Niagara On The Lake with Paul Gaustad.  Jochen Hecht is the guy you don’t want to date yourself, but who you don’t want dating anyone else either.

He never complains, he always does what you ask, and you love him for it….but he is not your Favorite Sabre.  We take Yo-Yo for granted because that is all he requires.  Someday, Jochen is going to have a gorgeous, smart, hilarious woman to call his biggest fan, and when that day comes our hearts will break because we will suddenly realize we loved him all along, but it will be too late.  We’ll pout and carry-on like complete assholes, but in the end we’ll begrudgingly admit that he’s way too good for us and he always was.

But for now, we frequently, knowingly, and happily take him for granted.  That is how it must be.

Captain February

It’s Yo-Yo again! I totally called this one, guys. It would seem that Lindy is zeroing in on his permanent captain, and I’ve got no beef with his selection. Jochen Hecht is a sexy, passionate warrior. That’s all you need to know. I also like Mair with the A. Nice one, Mairsy.

I am, however, pouting on Goose’s behalf today.

At first glance, giving Soupy an “A” was really upsetting, even without Goose in the equation, but then Pookie pointed out that the Sabres are probably just trying to make Soupy look nice and tantalizing for the trade block. I’m taking a lot of comfort in this theory. It makes perfect sense that the Sabres would want to inflate Soupy’s perceived value, and so, I have decided to endorse this plan, even though it leaves Goose without his letter.

As a favor to the Sabres, I have taken the time to write up a profile that Darcy can send out to prospective traders.

Campbell With Bow

Brian Campbell is an explosive “Offensive defenseman” with a fun loving personality and a killer smile. This two-time All-Star is sure to be a fan favorite and a winner in the hearts children and adults alike. Only his “Souper”-sized personality can overshadow his bone crunching hits. Just ask RJ Umberger! Brian is a leader both on the ice and in the lockerroom. Three times in the last year he has been awarded a letter by coach Lindy Ruff in the Sabres’ rotating captaincy system. If your team is looking for a top defensemen to add a spark to your offense, and a spring to your defense, look no further than Brian “Soupy” Campbell!

No fatties.

The Learning Curve

So, here we are, a few weeks into the season and here’s a summary of what I’ve learned:

1. Goose holds his pants up with tape.

2. In recognition of the fact that I am a very, very, new fan, I won’t say too much about it, but my initial experiences with a trap defense have been very annoying. I don’t think I mind a low scoring games, but hugely BORING low scoring games? Ew. In my mind I can imagine a fast paced game in which very few goals are scored. That can exist, right?

3. Jochen Hecht doesn’t open the sides of his mouth when he speaks which causes him to look like a duck when he talks. The jury is still out on whether this is cute or irritating. Today I’m leaning towards “cute”.

4. Overtime is only five minutes long. Who knew? Heh.

5. I love to hate the Rangers. Almost all of my despair and rage following Chris Drury’s departure this summer was directed towards the New York Rangers. It’s not logical, but there you go. I knew I would enjoy it if the Rangers stumbled out of the gate, I just didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy it. Second to watching the Sabres, watching the Rangers lose is my favorite game in hockey. I realized how much I enjoy watching the Rangers lose when I found myself cheering for the Islanders against them. Just a few days prior, the Islanders had humiliated the Sabres and still, I was all, “GO, MIKE COMRIE! GO!”. Cheering for Mike Comrie is a mighty testimony to my hatred of the Blue Shirts. On any given night I have my pick of a whole stable of appealing secondary teams on my Center Ice roster, but until the Rangers start winning, they’re my second “favorite” team.

6. The handsome guy I thought was Simon Gagne, is actually Jason Smith.

7. I wasn’t so sure at first, but I love our rotating captaincy. The Sabres clearly have some leadership issues to be ironed out. I am thoroughly looking forward to watching how this all shakes out over the season, because from where I sit, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious choice for the “C”. I love that Lindy is taking his time and that we get to witness the process.

8. Good seats are totally worth the money.

9. I don’t really mind missing games because I work on weekend nights. I am happy to watch a DVRed win the next day, and I don’t mind missing the losses.

10. I don’t care what anyone else in Buffalo thinks, I love Alexander Ovechkin.


…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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