Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Deadline Schmeadline

I’ll be relieved when the trade deadline is over. Part of me loves this period of “Anything can happen! Drew Stafford and the corpse of Jochen Hecht for Rick Nash!” but another part of me hates how we all react to moves that haven’t even happened. The other day Nick Cotsonika tweeted that the Sabres are trying to re-sign Paul Gaustad, and the next thing anyone realized the entire sports conversation had veered into “PAUL GAUSTAD?! WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?” In and of itself there’s nothing wrong with a conversation about Goose, but this one was had almost exclusively in angry, frustrated tones, and the entire premise was based on one tweet which is in opposition to all the other information we’ve heard about this topic.

The whole thing left me feeling icky. Not to mention conflicted about Goose (who I love).

But all of that is really neither here nor there.

The real reason I’m looking forward to the trade deadline being over is that I want to root for the Sabres again. I’ve been a bit conflicted about them because I want Darcy to sell at the deadline, and the best way for Darcy to be convinced to sell is if they lose a lot. So, they need to lose, at least through the deadline.

After the deadline is a different story.

Like everyone else in the world, I have no idea what’s up with this team. Are they terrible? Are they mediocre? Has there been any hint of future greatness in this revolting season? Nobody knows.

The one thing I’ve really decided about the 2011/12 Buffalo Sabres is that they’re not a lottery pick team. I don’t think they’ve got what it takes to hang onto a top five pick. There are still too many games in the season, and the Sabres are finally healthy. Injuries don’t excuse all of the losing this season, but they certainly excuse some of the losing. The Sabres are NOT as bad as their record, and to expect them to keep overachieving in the “suckiness” category is a good way to land myself in the loony bin. The second the trade deadline is past, I’m right back on the irrationally-pray-for-a-miracle-run-to-the-playoffs train.

The Sabres are going to end the season somewhere between 8th-11th place in the East. I’ve made my peace with this, and I’m comfortable admitting that I hope they end in 8th.

As far as the trade deadline goes, I’ve still got my fingers crossed that Darcy has a few addition-by-subtraction maneuvers up his sleeve. If Tuesday arrives and nothing of significance has changed, I’ll grab a pitchfork and lead the charge, but I’m going to do my very best to save my outrage until then. I’m going to try to dwell on the fun part of the trade deadline- the gleeful, goofy, ridiculous, and delightful hope that Darcy can somehow turn Drew Stafford into Dustin Brown, and then the Sabres storm to the finish line.

A heroic run to eighth place sounds good to me.

Keep the Faith

Okay, everyone take a deep breath and let’s try to assess this situation. Things have been bad in Sabreville (REAL BAD), but we’re safe right now (the Sabres aren’t playing at the moment, THANK GOD), so let’s try to calm down and tend to our psychological injuries.

If 0 is "We're headed to the playoff with ease, and depending on who Darcy gets at the trade deadline, I have high hopes for the postseason," and 5 is "a playoff series-deciding OT goal against", I'd say I'm at about a 3.2 on this scale of pain. I've got a definite frown in my heart, but unfortunately, I know (from experience) that it CAN get a lot worse.

I’ve spent the last few minutes trying to come up with a way to analyze this team, but despite my best efforts, all I can come up with is “shit show.” There is no area in which the Sabres don’t suck (except for the Vanek/Pominville area, I suppose). Sure, they’ve suffered a lot of injuries, but there’s still an air of nose-crinkling stinkiness that constantly wafts around this team. I’ve been TRYING to pretend like I don’t smell it, but I do smell it, Sabres. I DO.

And that, is the sum total of my Sabres analysis: They stink.

Trade everyone and fire the rest. I don’t care.

The good news is that I think we can allow ourselves to sink into comfortable resignation now.  Ted Black calls it “patience,” but I call it “emotional self defense.” We shall build a wall around our Sabres-hearts, and then these yahoos cannot reach us. I think if we carefully manage our big beer consumption, make sure to watch the games with good company, and keep our expectations very, very low, we can TOTALLY outsmart these Sabres and survive this season with our sanity (more or less) intact. We’ll just take it one game at a time.

Sooner or later (I predict this summer), Terry Pegula is going to get sick of this bullhonky, and heads will roll. We can tough it out that long. In that, I still have faith.

The Press Box: Part Three

I’m writing this from the press box, so I’m going to try to say this as professionally as possible:

The Sabres are all fired. Preferably out of a cannon into the center of a volcano.

Press Box: Part Two

Well, here I am, back in the press box. Just another day in the life of the rich and the famous poor and the bloggy.

Ho hum.

Just kidding! Apparently the Sabres have NOT come to their senses and revoked my access (suckers)! WOOOOOOO! I’M BACK IN THE PRESS BOX!

Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes story:

After you enter the building, go through security, and pick up your credentials, you go jump on a big elevator which is manned by an actual elevator operator. Now, before I came to the press box on Saturday, Mike Harrington was kind enough to give me a few pointers and one of them was, “For the love of God, have your press pass visible when you get on the elevator, because that thing ain’t moving until Bill (the operator) is satisfied that you belong.” So, the first time I got on the elevator I was holding my press pass in my hand, faced outwards, about two feet away from my body. I’m not going to lie, I was worried that Bill would be all, “I’m sorry, but you appear to be a blogger. You obviously don’t belong here. Please leave the building and immediately return to you mother’s basement.” But he didn’t!

It turns out that I needn’t have been so concerned because Bill is an equal opportunity show-me-your-pass-or-get-off-my-elevator kind of guy. According to an unnamed source (I know! I’m like Woodward and Bernstein over here with my unnamed sources!), once Bill refused to move the elevator until BRIAN BURKE stopped his cell phone conversation and fished his pass out of his coat. ISN’T THAT AWESOME?!

And THAT is how you know Bill the Elevator Operator is a Grade-A badass. Also a hero.

Today when I came up, the elevator was filled with many scouts from many teams, all of whom seemed to know and love Bill. (And FYI, there’s a scout here from the Blues. Do you think David Backes wants to be a Sabres? I bet he does.)

________

I learned my lesson on Saturday, and tonight I’m dressed for the Arctic Circle. I’m seriously wearing a hat, half gloves and a wool scarf. I’m hoping I pulled off “hobo chic,” with this look, but if I’m honest I might be leaning a little more towards the “hobo” and a lot away from the “chic.” But whatevs… I’m still cold.

On Friday I’m going to bring my down sleeping bag. Maybe there’s a warm street grate somewhere up here that I can lay on during the game.

__________

Apparently if you count up all the Sabres in this picture you will find that Patrick Kaleta is not on the ice. Or, you can do what I did and wait for Twitter to tell you that Kaleta is tonight's mystery injured Sabres.

1st period

7:16pm Zzzzzz. Hockey is boring. Come on guys, this is no way to get traded to the Ducks for Bobby Ryan.

7:17pm (1-0, Islanders) Szchszhzchszhszhsura takes a high sticking penalty and then some dumb Islander scores. Szuszhsuzhchsuzhscuhura is FIRED!

7:28pm Look at this. Before the game Mike Harrington spent a few minutes showing me around the place, and he took me into the broadcast booths. First we stopped by WGR. Hi Pat Malacaro! WGR is right next door to Rick and Harry’s booth, and when I leaned over to look into their booth, they both very obediently made funny faces. (Oh BTWs, the Sabres just had a power play but they didn’t score. They, um, don’t look like they want to be traded to the Ducks AT ALL. What gives, Sabres?)

Just for the record, these are PURPOSEFUL funny faces.

7:30pm My Name is Inigo Montoya, prepare to watch me embellish a tiny bump to the noggin.

7:33pm Zack Kassian fights Matt Martin after Niederreiter hits Gerbe in a MOST unpleasant way (NEIDERREITER IS A JERK!). Kassian manages to undress to his skivvies in the process of the fight.

7:37pm Unlike the Capitals, the Islanders appear to be trying to win this game. It’s irksome.

7:42pm DANG IT! Vanek almost scores a shorty during Pominville’s holding penalty. A shorty would’ve hit the spot.

7:44 This period is almost over. I’m going to eat a hot dog at intermission. A FREE hot dog. If you want, I’ll lower some free hot dogs down into section 318. Just say the word, people of 318.

2nd Period

8:08 That hot dog was good. This hockey game snoozy. I might have to challenge Phil from Blue Black and Gold to a hot dog eating competition just to pass the time.

8:11pm Seriously, people of Section 318. I’ve got a hot dog all ready to go for you. I’ll just lower it down. Let me know if you want any cookies.

8:20pm I’ve spent the majority of this period (12 minutes gone, so far) photographing and then uploading a picture of this hotdog. I bet this is how Jerry Sullivan passes the time during a boring game too.

8:23pm The natives are finally getting a little restless. Sporadic booing as the Sabres are CLEARLY trying to impress us (and failing) with their patented “getting too fancy for the home crowd” maneuvers. Can someone please tell them we don’t like it when they do that?

8:27pm Roy kiiiind of almost scores. But not really.

8:27:30pm I will say, sitting in the press box during an uneventful game is sort of interesting. Having the desk and the computer makes it feel like I’m at home, only I’m not allowed to cheer.

8:30pm Okay, the only thing that can save this period is a Hecht shorthanded goal. Kassian is in the box with a minute and a half left in the period. Come on, Yo Yo. We need you now.

8:32pm Yaaaaay! (I’ve decided that silent, blog-only cheering is permissable in the press box.) Enroth makes a save on a little trickling puck as the period expires. Well, at least it’s not 2-0, right?

3rd period

Here, look at this. It’s a picture of Lindy that’s on the wall up here.

Right next to Lindy is this picture of Craig Rivet, the greatest Elmira Jackal, EVER.

I actually love all the stories about Craig Rivet recapturing his love of hockey in the ECHL. Good for you, Craig Rivet.

Here's a picture of the visiting press area. Apparently, during the playoffs they build some risers and there's a second row behind that one.Sad

8:51pm Okay, I’m about to make a bold prediction: The Sabres are going to win this game in regulation. It’s not like the Islander have been exactly good. They’ve just been marginally less sucky.

8:53pm OMFG! AS SOON AS I STAKE MY REPUTATION (I know, some reputation, right?! Heh) ON THEM WINNING, THE LITTLE JERKS SCORE! GOOD WORK, JOCHEN!

Sad

8:58pm Enroth just made a nice save on Tavares, which is very much appreciated because I’m now EXTREMELY attached to them winning in regulation. #Nostradamus

9:02pm I feel like Pominville isn’t good enough for Thomas Vanek tonight.

9:06pm Hey, good work, Luke Adam! He just saved a trickling goal.

9:07pm NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! One of those tricklers finally went in. If the Sabres don’t win this in regulations, well… I don’t know what I’ll do, but you won’t like it, Sabres.

9:11pm Streit penalty. This is your chance, stupidheads.

9:12pm Oh NOOOOOO, not a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half!!!! (I’m using reverse psychology. The Sabres aren’t that smart. They fall for this every time.) Oooh, and now a Buffalo timeout. If I were not in the press box I’d be saying in my Lindy voice, “Okay, here’s the plan. I want you to skate down to the goal, and then put the puck IN the net. Does everyone understand the plan?! Okay, go do it!”

9:17pm Gross. All the penalties expire and the Sabres don’t score. I guess the Sabres didn’t understand Lindy’s plan.

9:2ipm Hope is waning. Both for a win and for the Ducks wanting any of these players in exchange for Bobby Ryan.

9:24pm Oh for Pete’s sake. Poor, hapless Ville Leino is fired.

9:28pm HAHAHAHA! The islanders put themselves offside AND Tavares misses the empty net. (I’m taking my victories where I can.)

9:29pm The end. The Sabres aren’t very good at this.

Postgame

I’m back in Lindy’s room waiting for his postgame press conference because I was instructed it would be interesting if the Sabres lost. I’ll be honest, I’m a little afraid of pissed-off Lindy. I’m scared.

FYI, reporters actually use those long notepads with the spiral on the top.

Whoa. Lindy’s tie has little chicken drumsticks on it. I AM glad I stayed!

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.

____________

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.

____________

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 Locker Room Tour

I’ve been EXTREMELY lucky to have been offered some incredibly cool Sabres experiences in the last few weeks. Honestly, my head is still spinning, and the season has barely even started.

Yesterday, along with the traditional media and a bunch of other bloggers, I was invited to tour the new locker room facilities at the First Niagara Center. As luck would have it, my schedule was free on short notice and I was able to take the tour. While this was obviously an enticing offer from the onset, the experience wound up being so much more interesting than the initial email invitation indicated it might be. In the end, this opportunity was practically a dream-come-true for me, because we were allowed to literally wander around the locker room area, looking at whatever struck our fancy. As this INCREDIBLY LONG post will show, quite a bit about the locker room facilities ending up striking my fancy.

Basically, yesterday was a little like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for me. I got a golden ticket. (Sadly, if there are Oompa-Loompas in FNC, they’re keeping them well hidden.)

Looking good, F'NC! I took this photo as I was walking up to the arena for the tour. As you can see, there is a new outdoor ribbon board, and the old "HSBC ARENA" sign is gone, replaced by... a single "R". I'm assuming the workers who are installing a new "First Niagara Center" sign were rained out yesterday, but personally I think the "R" is whimsical and fun. I think they should leave it like this!

Before I get too far into the description of the arena, I feel compelled to admit that I was pretty intimidated by the idea of joining what I figured would be a well attended media event. I’ve always worn the label “fan blogger” with pride, but that doesn’t mean I feel totally comfortable waltzing into a room full of journalists all, “HEY Y’ALL! NICE TO MEET YOU. I’M A FAN BLOGGER.” When I first arrived at the arena, things actually were a little awkward. Instructed to head to the media room, I didn’t know where to go, and I wandered around a little aimlessly for awhile before walking into a room full of all the Buffalo sports media types. It was weird, and I can’t lie, a little scary.

But then it quickly became apparent that the people who didn’t know me (most people) weren’t going to pay much attention to me, and the guys who did already know me were going to be their usual nice selves. A sincere thanks to Andrew, Jeremy, and Mike for helping to ease me into the world of media access by being friendly and welcoming.

After a few comments from Ted Black, the tour was turned over to Stan Makowski, Jr. (the Sabres VP of Arena Operations) and
Frank Cravotta (Sabres Director of Creative Services), who, from what I gathered, were the two guys most responsible for executing the locker room plans. They were both excellent guides, but the thing that really pinged my attention at this point was the news that after the guided tour, we were going to get to “wander around, check the place out, and stay as long as we like.” THIS, was extremely interesting and welcome news. I’d been anticipating a very controlled tour through the locker rooms, and the news that I’d be welcome to poke around was music to my ears.

The first thing we saw was Lindy’s office, which sadly, I didn’t take a picture of. (I was still trying to get my sea legs with the “media hoard” scene, and I wasn’t sure about taking pictures with my phone. It took me about 2 more minutes before I started taking pictures of EVERYTHING.) Lindy’s office is behind glass, visible from the hallway, and apparently all the players have to walk past him to get into work. Harsh, Lindy.

After Lindy’s office, you enter the player’s lounge.

The Player’s Lounge:

This is a terrible picture, but you get the idea. This is the view of the player's lounge from behind the bar. This room has lots of comfortable looking furniture and a cozy fireplace. I was trying to describe this room to a BPO coworker, and I said, "Imagine they took our break room, and totally swankified it to the degree that you never wanted to leave."

Lots of bowls of healthy snacks, and fancy single-serving coffee makers, and a slick-looking bar. If I'd had more time (and more privacy) I would've gone back behind the bar, opened all the drawers, and seriously investigated what's in a "Sabres" kitchen. For example, I feel a little ashamed that I don't know what kind of knives are in that knife block behind the bar. In retrospect, this seems like important information.

This table was a little suspicious to me. Do they honestly have a tray of cookies available to the Sabres at all times? Cookies are delicious, and young men (in my experience) certainly enjoy them, but they're not a very healthy snack. I suspect these cookies are a prop, put there to inspire jealousy in the journalists. Note that the cookie tray is FULL. No Sabres have sampled those cookies.

Here's where the Sabres can send some emails if, for some reason, their phones/ipads/laptops are all broken. I like this feature a lot, mostly for sentimental reasons. It reminds me of the computer labs at college. I like the idea of Ryan Miller sending sappy emails to his lady love from these computers, because, if I recall, that's all anyone ever writes from computer lab computers. "Dear Noreen, today was a good day at practice. I doubt we'll ever lose again. But, I miss you terribly..."

The Video Room

This is an absurdly bad photo, but this is the video screening room. It's basically a small movie theater where the Sabres can go to study their opponents and also get yelled at about what they did wrong the night before. I like these little desks, where I imagine Lindy will occasionally make them sit and write, "I will not try to get too fancy in front of the home crowd" a hundred times in a row.

Here's another area for plotting and studying. I love those dry erase boards. One of my favorite jokes during a game is to talk in my Lindy voice during a timeout. "Okay. What I want you to do is skate down to the net, and shoot the puck INTO their net. Does everyone understand the plan?" I imagine a lot of those schemes will be planned in this little room.

The Dressing Room

This is the area that we’ll see a lot of on television. It’s round, and opulent, and it’s dimly lit in a way that makes everyone look attractive. In the center is a large Sabres light fixture and directly below that is a light box in the floor with the Sabres logo. This is no mere “carpet logo”. You’d have to be pretty spectacularly unaware of your surroundings to step on this logo.

After the tour was over, during the time when we were invited to wander around and look at whatever we liked, I caught a few moments alone in this room, and I gotta say, it was pretty awe-inspiring. This area is really, REALLY well done, and standing there alone, surrounded by the stalls, I wanted to pledge my allegiance to the Sabres, forever, and ever.

This picture doesn't really do justice to the light box in the floor. One neat feature of the light box is that it's removable, meaning, the image can be swapped out depending on the occasion or situation. For example, if the Sabres are in the playoffs, they might put the number of wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup in the light box. To honor Rick Martin, they would've put a "7" in the light box. This is a very artful and cool feature of the locker room

The pictures above the stalls do not correspond with the individual lockers, mostly because the players move their stalls around a lot. All of the photos in this room are of current Sabres. There is a lot of Sabres history represented in the hallway leading to the ice, but the dressing room belongs entirely to the current Sabres.

Here's Vanek's stall. It's worth mentioning that while we were in there, the dressing room was at LEAST 45,000 degrees. This is because they were "drying the equipment". The whole extreme-heat-thing was explained, but honestly, I wasn't paying very close attention because I was too busy trying to surreptitiously snoop in the stalls. Something about the heat being forced over the equipment, and state-of-the-art technology, and blah blah blah... Some of the more seasoned sports journalists in the room commented that it doesn't stink in there... yet.

Every stall has one of these cool looking pouches. I don't know what that Sabres keep in those pouches, but if I had one of those, that's where I'd keep my most prized keepsakes and trinkets. I covet these Sabres pouches. I covet them HARD. (Also, if I hadn't been afraid I'd be thrown out for excessive nosiness, I'd have opened up one of the hatches in the bench.)

Those are Crunchy's pads in the front of the photo, and Enroth's in the back. They were just laying there on the floor in front of the stalls. I resisted the urge to try the pads on.

I think these skate hooks above the stalls are kind of nifty. I also like how their little blade cozies have their jersey numbers on them.

This might be a decent time to mention that I don’t think I touched a single thing the entire time I was in the arena. Like, I literally don’t think I touched anything. Later, I thought about why this was, and I have two explanations: 1. I guess I’m a little superstitious. I mean, why risk jinxing the whole place by running my grubby hands over everything? Better to be safe than sorry.  2. I sort of felt like I was in a Sabres-themed museum. You don’t walk into the Albright Knox and touch the art, so why would I touch the stuff in the Sabres museum?

In the end, it just felt more respectful to their space to keep my hands to myself, but still, it’s kind of funny that I don’t think I left a single fingerprint in the hour and a half I spent at the arena.

Laundry Room


The laundry room is where I realized that this would be no ordinary “locker room tour.” This was where it really sunk in that the Sabres were basically being all, “Hey, come on in, Katebits! Look at whatever you’d like.”  For as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve been joking about trying to get an interview with the folks that do the Sabres laundry. I want to know everything there is to know about jersey maintenance.

One of the only things I asked Vanek and Ehrhoff in the limo was if they feel any sort of attachment to specific jerseys, or if they’d prefer a fresh new jersey every day. (Disappointingly, they both answered that they could not care less. I believe Vanek’s actual words were, “As long as it doesn’t stink, I’ll wear it.”)

So, the laundry room held a bit of mystic for me, if only because it represented a very-modest-dream realized.

Look! It's a stack of freshly laundered Sabres' socks!

Stacks of towels!

I don't know what this thing is, but it was in the laundry room, and I took a picture of it. It seems to be a little suitcase-type thing with a bunch of pouches. Stain stick organizer? Special detergents for the guys with allergies? Who knows.

Behind those people is a RACK OF JERSEYS! I KNOW. Try to contain your excitement. You don't want to look like a total goober in front of the journalists, do you?

The Medical Area

The Sabres have a little mini-hospital at the rink.

Here's where the Sabres hang out getting fixed up if they get injured during a game. There are three (maybe four?) tables like this. It kind of gives me the willies to imagine the Sabres hospital all filled up with injured Sabres.

Across from the medical tables is this medical station full of gauze, and Alka-Seltzer, and Tylenol. You can't see it in this picture, but on top of the cupboards are little medical models of spines and other hockey-related body bits.

Snippers

I have no idea what this is. It's a whirlpool, but it's too tiny for a Sabre. If a Sabre were to climb into this thing, he'd only be covered up to his thighs. (Exception: Gerbe might be waist-high.)

Here's a stack of weird Sabres towels that were next to the weird tiny whirlpool in the medical area. These towels sort reminded me of the blankets they put over you when you get x-rays at the dentist, but they're clearly too small and fluffy for that job. These are mystery towels.

The medical area was full of oddities. This is a bin full of soapy water, and in it is a strange-looking rack. What's up with this?

The Bathroom/Locker Room

This is room is adjacent to the bathrooms and showers. This area contains actual lockable lockers and a place for the Sabres to change out of their street clothes and into their Sabre-y stuff. I wish I'd taken more pictures of this area, but unfortunately I was distracted by the rows of toiletries on the counters by the sinks. Katebits: "Who cares about mega-fancy new lockers! There are bottles of Listerine and Lubriderm over here!"

Here are various team-provided products that the Sabres use to keep themselves sweet-smelling and their skin satiny-soft. Also, someone's hairbrush. Right behind these sinks are the toilets and urinals, which I briefly considered photographing but decided against in the interest of "acting like I've been there before."

The Sabres had, not one, but TWO, giant bottles of Listerine in the bathroom. I guess good breath and the prevention of gingivitis is an important team priority.

Here's the Sabres shower.

The Gym

The workout room is long and decorated by this cool astroturf carpet. You can't see it well in this photo, but there's a logo in the middle of this carpet. There was some discussion among the journalists about whether they were allowed to step on THAT logo. Personally, I don't understand the confusion about this issue. The rules are simple, guys. Play it safe, don't step on ANY logos, and Goose won't yell at you. It's easy!

Here are some balance balls and various stretchy exercise-y things.

At the end of the astroturf carpet are a couple of small rooms and offices, and in one of the rooms is this. It's a Bod Pod. I didn't get the details on this contraption, but I think it's some sort of horrible body fat calculator. I'm inherently afraid of the Bod Pod because, first of all, it's a crazy looking POD and if science fiction movies have taught me anything it's, "steer clear of pods," and second of all, I have noooooo interest in an ultra-accurate body fat measurement. When I look at this photo, I can easily picture the faces of various unhappy Sabres, forlornly looking out of the Bod Pod window, hands pressed to the glass in despair. Poor Sabres!

The gym has two fleets of bikes. The white bikes...

...and the black bikes. I'd like to think that one set of bikes is somehow more difficult and torturous than the other. Lindy: "DEREK, YOU WERE TOO SLOW TO THE BENCH AFTER YOUR SHIFTS TODAY. GET YOUR BUTT ON THE BIKE."" Roy-Z: (sheepishly) "Black bike?" Lindy: "NO. WHITE BIKE." Roy-Z: (cries)

Back behind all the bikes is a bunch of weight-lifting equipment that I didn't photograph for some reason. In the middle of the weight area, were these two boxes, one of which has the old red "B" on it. I took this photo because it was literally the only thing in the entire place where I noticed an old logo. The "B" with the sword through it is still alive and well in the locker room (all of the other B's I saw were gold), but I seriously don't think I saw a slug the entire time I was there. F'NC really HAS been de-slugged.

Here's a pull-y arm machine. I think this is where Staffy does his hissing cat exercises.

I don't know what a "stabilizer" is, but the Sabres have one.

The Visitor’s Locker Room

The Visitor’s locker room is predictably less awesome than the Sabres locker room. It’s long, rectangular, and utilitarian. While I was in the visitor’s locker room Paul Hamilton mentioned that he’s always thought that you should make the visitors as comfortable as possible. Give them comfy chairs and keep the room just a liiiiittle too warm. I have to say, I agree with Paul on this one. Do what you can to make the visitors sleepy, that’s what I say. Hell, give them fluffy cots to lay down on between periods and pipe in meditational music.

Apparently, the Sabres take an opposite philosophy: provide the visitors with exactly what they need, and not much more.

If the visitor's locker room could talk, it would say, "Visitors, you guys are lame, and the Sabres are going to win this game."

If the visitor's shower could talk it would say, "Visitors, you guys are lame, and now you're about to take a tepid, unpleasant shower."

This was one of the funnest things I saw all day. It's a dry erase board! With the names of Leafs on it! And Sabres power play units! One of the reasons I love this dry erase board is because I found it in a closet-like room in the visitor's area. (I can't TELL you how fun it was to wander around the bowels of the arena, opening whatever door I thought I could safely get away with opening.) I also love this dry erase board because it's just so behind-the-scene-y. After Heather B. saw this photo she wanted to know if I'd asked anyone whose handwriting this is. I didn't ask about that, but I think this demonstrates well why Heather and I are BFFS.

Here's the visitor's bench.

My Seriously Inept Attempt at Documenting the Artistic Touches Designed to Honor the History of the Franchise and Inspire the Current Sabres

I did a COMICALLY BAD job of documenting the hallways of the new locker room facilities at First Niagara Center. There are two areas of really neat artwork that the Sabres will walk by every single workday. One is the wall of names and retired numbers, and the other is a wall of pucks, which commemorate important events in Sabres history. Here’s the only picture I took of ALL of that.

There is a spot for the Stanley Cup on this very cool wall.

My excuse for not spending more time on these genuinely SPECTACULAR features is that I figured the professional media outlets would cover these features well. If I was invited on the media tour for a “reason” it wasn’t to mimic The Buffalo News (poorly), it was to find the dry erase boards and other assorted arena oddities that Harrington or Vogl might not be inclined to fuss over. Also, during the period of time when the tour group was looking at the hallways, I took the opportunity to slip back into the locker room and steal a few minutes alone, soaking up the vibe in there. That is a memory from the day that I’ll cherish for a long time.

However, I really wish that I’d had enough time to really take a long, long look at these artful hallways. After the guided part of the tour was over, the Sabres graciously said, “Stay as long as you’d like,” but since I knew they didn’t really mean that (especially since “as long as I’d like” actually equaled, “Can I sleep over? Those lounge couches look pretty comfortable, and I see you have plenty of snacks to tide me over for dinner”), I knew I had to strategically pick my spots. If I ever have another opportunity to walk through the locker rooms, the first thing I’m going to do is head towards those hallways, and read every single name, and every single word.

Tool, Sticks, and other Equipment-type stuff!

Seeing things like racks of sticks and skate sharpeners was by FAR my favorite part of the tour. I desperately wanted to pick up all the little tools, and open all the drawers of assorted hockey-related knick-knacks. I’m not sure why these things hold such interest for me, but they do.

I might not have taken any photographs of the gorgeous hallways, but I DID take about 45 pictures of these drying racks for skates and gloves.

It looks like something from a nightmare.

All of the tools are shiny new and red.

Here's some stuff for fixing other stuff.

I really like this. Small cubbys full of skate blades.

Along with the dry erase board, this was my other favorite find from the day. It's where they keep the skate laces! THIS IS IMPORTANT SABRES INFORMATION, YOU GUYS!

Sticks! And lots of them! Like I said earlier, I don't think I touched a single thing while I was in the arena, but this was DEFINITELY the hardest place to keep my hands to myself.

For some reason I think it's cute that someone has used a Sharpie to change the number on Regehr's sticks.

 __________

So, 3900 words later, we have FINALLY reached the end of my tour of the Sabres tour. If you’d like to read more about the locker room and look at photos much, much better than the ones I took with my phone, I recommend going here.

A heartfelt thanks to the Sabres for inviting me to this event and for being so welcoming while I was there. It was an incredibly fun afternoon. And, of course, thanks to the Pegulas for buying the Sabres, being generally awesome, and building a new locker room for us to tour.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

Sabres Tickets For Sale

If you, or someone you love, would like to buy Sabres tickets from me, please take a look at this page, which I have added to the Sabres menu bar.

If you’d like to buy any of the games listed, please email me at willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thank you for shopping at Katebits’ Ticket Emporium! Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

For All Your Facebook “Needs”

Categories

puck goggles
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.)

Pages


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers