Archive for the 'Proclamations' Category

Heather B Is So Right

Before you read another word of this blog, I insist that you go read this post that Heather B wrote today. Go on. Git.

Did you read it?

Okay, good. I agree with every word of that post.

Heather put into words a lot of things I’ve been trying to say all season. I’ve been feeling “off” about this season almost from game one. I’ve been frustrated by and overly sensitive to the barrage of opinion that I subject myself to via the MSM, blogs, and twitter. I’m experiencing Sabres overload and I’m finding it to be very unpleasant. It’s my own fault that I wandered too far into the deep end of the, “Sabres opinion” pool, but here I am, and damn do I need to get my head above water.

One thing that Heather wrote about the general state of Sabres fandom really jumped out at me. She wrote:

We seem really, really unhappy.

That sentence just cut through me like a knife. We DO seem unhappy. In my opinion, our unhappiness is way out of step with the reality of the situation. The current tone of Sabres fandom is just off.  There is something unhealthy going on here, at least for me.

I feel like I need to make a confession right now: I like these Sabres. I think they’re fun. I find their struggles interesting, and I find their wins every bit as satisfying as I always have. I truly believe the Sabres are a team on the rise. This might not be their year, but their year is coming. I still love Ryan Miller. Not only do I NOT care if he’s a brat in interviews, I LOVE IT WHEN HE’S A BRAT. I enjoy rooting for Ryan Miller. I love Goose, and I don’t care who he did or did not beat up in Boston. I even kind of like Derek Roy. I refuse to give up on Ville Leino, and I’m telling you, he’s going to be a great Sabre.  I’m STILL psyched that Tim Connolly is gone. Tyler Myers and I have had our struggles this season, but now it looks like we’ll have a few weeks apart, and I fully anticipate rediscovering my love in his absence. I LOVE it when Jason Pominville plays well, which he’s been doing all over the place this year. Jhonas Enroth is INFINITELY interesting, and hobbit-like and all-around wonderful. I’ve even developed an appreciation for Brad Boyes, whose pleasant, open face has finally won me over (it doesn’t hurt that he’s shown occasional bursts of snazziness). And then there’s Thomas Vanek. THOMAS VANEK GREW AN ODDLY FOXY BLOND MUSTACHE, YOU GUYS. A mustache.

I don’t want to be the type of fan who can’t see the mustache through the trees. I enjoy enjoying things. I spend a lot of time and money on the Sabres, and I want to maximize my enjoyment. Being so angry about losing to the Devils than you can’t be joyful about an unexpected blond mustache is NO way to live. You can call me a fangirl all you want. I don’t care. I’m readjusting my Sabres-priorities, and I’m putting “Love the shit out of Vanek’s mustache,” at the top of the list.

I’m going to follow Heather’s lead. I’m taking back control of my Sabres experience. I haven’t decided if I’ll follow Heather’s exact rules, but I’m definitely going to go on a dramatic Sabres-media diet.

What does that mean for this blog? Well, probably nothing much. I still intend to blog, only now instead of being mostly uninformed, I’ll be pretty much TOTALLY uninformed. (Let’s face it, I’m way more fun when I don’t know what I’m talking about, anyway.) Also, I’m scheduled to be in the press box for the three home games right after Thanksgiving, so I’ll have a professional (*shifty eyes*) obligation to blog. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make my time in the press box interesting for my readers, and I think, “having no idea what’s going on,” might be the ticket. Heh.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

 

Before the Penguins Game

Because of my Twitter sabbatical (only three days to go!), I feel pretty removed from the Sabres chatter around the interwebs.  I’m going to go ahead and assume that even in the sometimes-too-cranky Twitter environment, most people are quite chipper about the Sabres.  You’d have to be a very devoted crankypants to avoid a Sabres-related spring in your step these days.

(Also, it’s extremely beautiful outside today.  Spring is coming, you guys.  For real.)

Considering my incredibly good Sabres-mood, I found myself doing a rather odd thing this morning.  I found myself looking at the upcoming schedule, and wondering when would be a good time for a loss.  “Good” is a weird term when it comes to losses during a playoff push, but let’s face it, the Sabres are not going to win out, so there will be a loss or two in our future.  Maybe it will come tonight.  I hope not.

But, let’s make a promise to one another right now, Dear Reader. Let’s keep this Sabres-related spring in our step, either way.

I’ve never been a big fan of the “Don’t get to high, and don’t get too low,” philosophy.  That philosophy makes a lot of sense for the players, but for myself, I’ve always preferred to accept the low lows as a sort of payment to the Hockey Gods in exchange for the high highs.

But for some reason, this year feels different.  Things feel different around here lately, don’t they? Maybe it’s Pegula, maybe it’s this slow comeback from the brink, maybe it’s that the Sabres have been good in unexpected ways, or, maybe it’s not actually different at all.  Maybe it just feels different because I want it to be different this year.  Who knows.

For whatever reason, I’m not in the mood to live and die with every game. I’m in the mood to have faith in the Sabres.  I’m in the mood to take the long view. I’m in the mood to believe.

Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Let’s stop examining our past, and let’s stop wringing our hands about the future. Let’s ride this thing out, one game at a time. Let’s give 110% every night.

All for one, and one for all.  Live together, die alone.  (And yes… that includes Tim Connolly.  In fact, that especially includes Tim Connolly.)

Huddle up, Sabres Nation!

LET’S GO BUFF-A-LO!

The Jerrys

On Monday afternoon, I became very cranky while listening to Jerry Sullivan pitch a fit about Terry Pegula on Schopp and the Bulldog.  Honestly, I’m not even sure I can summarize Sully’s point.  All I really know for sure is that Jerry was offended by Pegula’s meeting with the board of editors, he’s angry about Tim Connolly’s contract, and he feels that it’s his job to be critical of the Sabres.  I was in a bad mood when I turned on the radio, and Jerry’s appearance made it much, much worse.  Later on that evening, I instigated a bit of a tussle on Twitter when I responded semi-aggressively to a tweet from Mike Harrington that defended Sully’s WGR appearance.  The next thing I knew, Twitter was in a tizzy with everyone yelling about everything.

I don’t like being angry about a conversation I hear on the radio about the Sabres.  The fact that I was genuinely upset by Jerry’s appearance on the show made me feel stupid, and it made me feel sort of out of control, and it made me feel like there is something inherently unhealthy about my Sabres fandom.

So, there I was, pissed off, and poised at the computer, about to dig in for a fight with Mike Harrington on twitter, when, a light bulb suddenly went on over my head.  Wait.  Hold on, Kate.  What are you doing?

I had a moment of clarity.

It basically boils down to this: I follow the Sabres for enjoyment. Anything that interferes with that fundamental enjoyment is not worth my time, it’s not worth my consumer dollars, and it’s not worth my intellectual energy.  If some secondary element of my Sabres experience (Twitter, WGR, TBN, blogs) is upsetting me, it’s entirely within my power to walk away.

So, I stood up and walked away from the computer.  In an instant I decided that I would not be reading Sullivan’s columns or listening to his radio appearances in the future, and I realized that I need to seriously rethink how I use Twitter.

I will no longer allow outside influences to interfere with my enjoyment of the Sabres, at least not without at fight. It was Jerry Sullivan on the radio that led me to make this promise to myself, but it applies to a couple of things, most significantly, Twitter.  In some small way, I am wounded by every toxic tweet that I read, and I need to take responsibility for that, and I need to weed out the voices that I find destructive.  And most of all, I need to make sure that my output reflects who I am as a person.  Twitter should not be a dumping ground for negativity.  I need to make sure that my contribution to the conversation is not primarily in response to the people I respect the least.

Becoming a Sabres fan is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  It’s provided countless hours of fun, and I’ve met so many wonderful people as a result my fandom.  This is going to sound very cheesy, but one of my favorite things about rooting for a team is how it opens my heart up a bit.  Being a fan makes me feel a little vulnerable, in both good and bad ways.  The vulnerability is good because during the process of rooting for the Sabres I become more receptive to joy, and more open to hopefulness.  The vulnerability is bad because all of that openness makes bitterness sting a little more.  I have to admit, I wasn’t just offended by Jerry Sullivan on Monday.  I was also a little bit hurt by him.

This post is my first attempt to actively defend myself against the Jerry Sullivans of this world. (One of the things the newspaper guys love to say in defense of negative articles is, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”  Please listen carefully to me right now.  I am NOT shooting the messenger.  I’m rejecting the messenger.)  I used to think I could just ignore the negativity, or make fun of it until it didn’t bother me, but I don’t think that’s true anymore.  I think I need to be a little more proactive.  Periodically, I have to remind myself of the kind of sports fan I want to be, and I need to make sure that I’m actually being that fan.

Optimistic and open-hearted fans must remain vigilant, and we must stick together.  We can control this thing.  We can take over the interwebs, and we can create our own way of talking about the Sabres.  We can be braver, funnier, kinder, and more insightful than them.

The Jerrys speak loudly, but we don’t have to listen.

Declaration of Confusing War

Longtime readers of this blog may recall that when I started this blog I had almost no affection for Thomas Vanek.  In the fall of 2007 I was irked with Vanek for the whole, “Hey, I’m going to squeeze a zillion dollars out of the Sabres because Kevin Lowe is a lunatic and Darcy bungled negotiations with the co-captains so badly that he’ll have no choice but to give me what I want,” routine.  (And yes, I understand it was Vanek’s right as an UFA to sign that offer sheet, and yes, in the same position I probably would’ve done the same thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t refer to him as “Slag-Faced Whore” for an entire season because of it.)

My point is that I used to be pretty merciless when it came to Thomas Vanek.  Unless he was scoring multiple goals per game, I went out of my way to abuse him on this blog.  Even when he was scoring multiple goals per game, I was still kind of a beeyotch about him.  What can I say?  I used to love to hate Thomas Vanek.  It was my thing.

But along the way, something terrible happened.  I let down my guard, and I got soft on Thomas Vanek.

At the risk of echoing my Sabres soul-sister Heather, when it comes right down to it, Thomas Vanek is just not that hateable.   Sure, he’s slaggy, and he’s not NEARLY good enough at hockey, and deep down in our hearts we all suspect that the Sabres will never be a genuine Cup contender if Thomas Vanek is expected to be “the guy,” but even in spite of all that, Thomas Vanek somehow manages to be a sympathetic figure.  He just is. Maybe he’s sympathetic because his low self-esteem is evident in every shift, maybe it’s because he’s almost always got a face full of zits, or maybe it’s because it’s we’re all living in denial, praying that he’s about to morph into his mega-awesome mode.

All I know is that I’ve been treating Vanek with kid gloves and it has got to stop.

I watched the game last night on DVR delay, and by the time I plopped down in front of the television I was pretty tired.  It was a great game for the Sabres.  All the right guys looked good.  Some of the more worrisome defensemen looked calm and capable. (Myer, Butts, and even Rivet looked good).  Pommerdoodle showed up in a suit, and his head wasn’t bleeding and he wasn’t strapped to a stretcher…which was nice.  It was a thoroughly pleasant game, and perfect for my mood because I was worn out, and I just wanted to see them win without any fuss or muss.

Because the game was so breezy, I had lots of opportunity to check each guy out.  For the most part, I was pleased with the Sabres, but in the early part of the third period when the score was 3-1 and it came time for me to ask myself, “How is Thomas Vanek looking tonight?” the answer was a resounding, “LIKE A FESTERING BOIL”.   All of the old 2007 Thomas Vanek frustrations came flooding back, and I mentally decided, I’M DONE WITH THIS LOSER.  HE’S NEVER GOING TO BE GOOD AGAIN.  HE’S TOO CRAZY.  THOMAS VANEK IS THE WORST “THE GUY” IN HOCKEY.

I’m not sure why I chose that moment to snap (the Sabres were winning easily and I was very much enjoying the game), but I did.  And it felt good.  It felt right. Bagging on Thomas Vanek is how it’s supposed to be.  Even when the Sabres are winning.

And that’s when that little jerk scored!  That’s when Thomas Vanek scored a meaningless, gorgeous goal-scorer’s goal.

He always does this.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the arena, and juuust as I’m declaring my everlasting disgust with Thomas Vanek, he scores a goal.   I feel like it’s happened dozens of times.  Possibly millions.  I don’t want to hate him, but he leaves me no choice.

It’s time I face facts:  No matter how sympathetic, likable or (frankly) kind of pitiable I find him to be, Thomas Vanek plays better when I’m cursing his name.   I don’t know why, I don’t particularly like it, but damn it, I’m willing to do my part.  It’s tragic really.  Thomas Vanek and I are locked in some sort of epic battle which I do NOT understand, but if the Hockey Gods require that I abuse him, abuse him I must.

Thomas Vanek, you better look out, because it is on.

Offseason Begone

If you count 2010, I now have FOUR hockey off-seasons under my belt (I know, I’m like, a wise old hockey sage).   In my experience, the offseason has a predictable rhythm, and there are certain things you can expect.  With the exception of the offseasons that happen to contain a Summer Olympics (oh, wonderful, wonderful Summer Olympics. I love you so..) this is how things go:

June: Depending on how your team fared in the playoffs, you’re still kind of buzzing from the events of the previous season.  If your team missed the playoffs altogether that year, you go through a period of genuine relief that hockey is over.  Mid-June can be a nice period of hockey reflection/HOORAY-IT’S-SUMMER!  At the end of June there’s the draft and the all the accompanying speculation about trades. (No one EVER trades ANYONE at draft time though.  We all know this in our hearts, but we pretend it’s not true because it’s fun to pretend that Darcy will figure out a way to trade Drew Stafford for Jerome Iginla.  Darcy never does.)

July: July, of course, is the opening of free agency.  Free agency is fun for a while.  Even the stodgy old Sabres usually sign someone in early July.  This year we got Jordan Leopold, which on a scale of 1-10 warrants about a 2.5 for “exciting developments”.   In early July you’re still in stuck in the past emotionally, and you’re still either brooding over, or celebrating, the season that just ended.  So, even though Jordan Leopold is to free agency signings as a $5 footlong is to fine cuisine, any new signing feels like someone opened a window in a stuffy attic.  Suddenly a fresh breeze wafts in, and you can detect the faint scent of “future” in the air.  It’s just a hint of the season to come, but it’s there.

August: Early and mid-August is the hockey equivalent of that movie where Tom Hanks is stuck on an island and his only companionship is a volleyball.  You’re so far away from hockey that you begin to forget what it’s like, and talking to a volleyball daylight until 9pm begins to feel perfectly normal.  You bask in the heat, you garden, you go on vacations.  You enjoy the summer.  But despite outward signs of happiness, there is a deep-seated restlessness.  You are missing something.  Sure, evenings spent on the patio drinking mojitos with your volleyball are nice, but your heart longs for more…. Hockey is like a beautiful memory, too painful to recall.  You’re stuck on a beautiful tropical island with absolutely no hockey anywhere.

September: At some point in late August/early September, you wake up to a cool crispness in the air.  This slight change in the weather will jog something deep down in your memory…hock…ey?  Hoc-key?  Hockey.  HOCKEY! HOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEY!!  Suddenly, at lunch, you’ll look across the table and realize your companion is a volleyball, not a person.  But who cares?!  HOCKEY IS ALMOST BACK!

__________

And this is where we are right now.  Summertime is a great volleyball, but the scent of hockey is in the air, and I, for one, am ready to get off this hockeyless island.  I declare August over.  TRAINING CAMP (the best time of the year!) starts in September!  It’s all downhill from here.

I thank you volleyball summer for your service.  You have been warm and wonderful.  But now, it’s time to look ahead, to hockey.

WOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Reckless = Dirty

This whole “He’s not dirty, he’s reckless,” argument is how we convince ourselves that it’s alright to keep loving the players we love when they do shitty things, but it’s silly.  If a player is habitually zooming around laying questionable hits, I think the difference between “reckless” and “dirty” is so subtle that it becomes irrelevant.

 

Goalie Thoughts

The first time I paid continual intense attention to the Sabres was during their 07-08 06-07 playoff run.  Obviously I didn’t know much about hockey at the time, but even a total novice could see that by the time the Ottawa series rolled around the Sabres would have lost every game 50-2 without the incredible play of Ryan Miller.  I don’t very often give him credit for helping to make a hockey addict out of me, but I probably should.

Ryan Miller was amazing against the Hurricanes last night.  He was so amazing that I was reminded of those first few hockey games I watched two and a half years ago.  It’s a real treat to watch him when he’s like this, so much so that it could inspire someone to become a lifelong fan of the game.

I reeeeally hope Crunchy’s got the stamina to stay up and running for an entire season (during an Olympic year no less).  Darcy and Lindy, need to find a way to ensure that Ryan Miller gets enough rest.  If they don’t, they suck.  Crunchy deserves better.  He’s playing his ass off right now, but this won’t last forever.  He’s going to need a breather or two, and we don’t want him all deflated and worn down in March.  No, we do not.

This team is still a total mystery, but one thing we know for sure is that in the right circumstances, Ryan Miller is capable of carrying this organization on his back.

The Sabres need a better back-up.  STAT.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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