Secondary Teams

Okay, tonight offers a much needed break from the Sabres. Last night was pretty rough. I realized about half way through the third period the extent of my unhappiness. I was practically grinding my teeth with frustration, and I felt like I was wearing a child-sized turtleneck. Now, I ask you. Is this any way to live?


I love the Sabres, and I love cheering for the Sabres, but I do NOT love having my evening ruined by the Sabres. So, in my misery, I sent a pathetic email to the Ookies. What do you do when your team is sucking?”, I whimpered. Here is Schnookie’s response, reprinted without her permission, and edited to best prove my point:

See, this is where Center Ice comes in, and where loving hockey saved my life. Last year I was furious with the Devils (and Marty in particular) because they were absolutely ATROCIOUS at the start of the season. Just wretched. Putrid. Redefining the concept of sucktitude. But instead of letting myself be strangled, I was like, “Huh. I bet someone else is playing good hockey right now,” and I found the Sabres. And then the Penguins. I rediscovered my ability to love hockey and turn to another team or another good game whenever I was annoyed by the Devils. This is what I love about having the blogosphere now — back in the day, I’d just sit and stew in my unhappiness. Now I have places to go to talk to people who can cheer me up, or find out what compelling and adorable storylines other teams are carrying at that moment. There are 29 other teams! Step back, take a few deep breaths, recognize that the Sabres will, on occasion, stink up the joint, and turn to some team you enjoy just for fun. Maybe it’s Sid. Maybe it’s the Devils (ha!). Maybe it’s the possibility of seeing the Rangers lose. Maybe it’s some random team out West that’s hovering at .500 but they just seem cute. Maybe it’s someone new every night. Whatever it is, there’s so much to love about hockey!

What great advice! Listen, I will never love another team like I love the Sabres. Never, ever, ever. BUT, Schnookie is right. There is plenty to love about hockey, even when the Sabres are being lame. So, rather than dwell on the feeling that the Sabres are strangling me to death, I am going to turn my attention to some of the other teams that have captured my fancy.

In order of my level of interest:

1. New York Rangers: I believe I’ve mentioned this one or two thousand times, but I hate the Rangers. Without a doubt, my favorite thing other than watching the Sabres win, is watching the Rangers lose. The Rangers have delighted me with their slow start, but they could pull it together at any time, and I intend to pull the plug on this fixation at the first sign of life from my favorite team to hate.

2. New Jersey Devils: (avert your eyes, Sam) My affection for the Devils stems entirely from my affection for the Ookie sisters. I have been happily digesting a steady stream of Devils posts over on IPB for the last few months, which has lead to a comfort level with the Devils that I don’t have with any other non-Sabres team. I’m familiar with this cast of characters, and I like them very much. I know that the Devils supposedly play boring, defensive minded hockey, but that has not been my experience with them so far this season. They’re, um….not really in control of the games often enough to be killing hockey in their current incarnation. (No offense, Devils. You know I love ya.) I’m told the Devils are always pretty good in the end, so I look forward to watching them this season.

3. L.A. Kings: This is a hard one to explain. Rudy Kelly over at The Battle of California is seriously hilarious. He’s so hilarious that I have started to like his team. So, there’s that. I think it’s safe to say that I don’t care very much about my secondary teams winning. The Kings are totally welcome to lose all they want, I just kind of like them regardless. I liked them in London, and I like their hideous uniforms, and I like how they play late at night so if I can’t sleep I can watch the end of their games. I don’t know why, but I’m a Kings fan.

4. The Minnesota Wild: I’m a native Minnesotan and I really want to love The Wild, but I admit it’s not coming naturally so far. First of all, they are just WAY too winning. Second of all, they’re a bit of a snooze with their responsible defense and their impenetrable goalie; BUT they do have a few cuties, including their oddly compelling brute, Boogaard, who wears charming spectacles when he is not teaching little kids how to beat each other up. I am attending a Wild game with my dear friend Sam over my Christmas break. I hope to be a fully informed, passionate Wild fan by then.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins are super fun, no doubt about it. I’m not sure why they are not higher up on this list; it might be because they make me feel like a dirty, old lady. Like everyone else, I have mixed feelings about Sidney Crosby the person, but I sure like watching him play hockey- he gets all crazy intense and swirly eyed. Usually around the time I am noticing Sid’s intense swirly eyedness is when I start to feel like a dirty old lady, and that is when I purposefully turn my attention to Mark Recchi who I like entirely because of his Versus ad where he declares that he’s not retiring until they “pry the stick from my dead hands.” Honestly, there is quite a bit to love about the Penguins.

So, there you have my preliminary list of secondary teams. I am sure this list will morph as the season goes on, and I promise to keep you abreast of my non-Sabres interests. The Sabres can make me crazy, happy, frustrated, confused, elated and scandalized, but they cannot make me hate hockey.


34 Responses to “Secondary Teams”

  1. 1 Pookie October 25, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    The Sabres can make me crazy, happy, frustrated, confused, elated and scandalized, but they cannot make me hate hockey.

    AMEN! I’m so glad you’ve come to this conclusion! And that’s such an elegant to sum up the appeal of secondary teams. Great post! (And also, you’re so right about the Devils not being in control enough to kill hockey. :^:::::::::::::::::::::::)

  2. 2 Schnookie October 25, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    *Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. ClapClapClapclapclapclapclapclap.*

    That was beautiful! I especially liked that big chunk of wisdom you quoted in the middle there, but expect to hear from my lawyers, young lady.

    I am really beginning to think that the losing Rangers are definitely my second favorite thing in hockey, although it hurts quite a bit to say anything nice about them tonight.

    And you need to let go and let Sid! He’s not a teenager anymore! There’s nothing dirty about enjoying his swirly eyedness! (There was, of course, lots that was dirty about enjoying it last year, though…)

  3. 3 Katebits October 25, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Schnookie, did you notice how I cut out the part about how you like the Hurricanes? :D I just couldn’t have it, I’m sorry. Tell your lawyers to do their worst, but I will NOT have pro Hurricanes sentiment on TWC. Heh.

  4. 4 Schnookie October 25, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    Tell your lawyers to do their worst, but I will NOT have pro Hurricanes sentiment on TWC.

    You’re breaking Mikey C’s heart! All he wants is for you to love him (and maybe he’d also like a tall stack at Flapjack Joe’s), and here you are, excising him from my ardent, soul-deep entreaty to you! FOR SHAME!

  5. 5 Pookie October 25, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Dear Katebits,

    What’s wrong with a little pro-Hurricane sentiment? It was good enough for Mrs. Pancake; it’s not good enough for you?

    Mikey C

  6. 6 Sam October 26, 2007 at 12:02 am

    a) There is no such thing as Hurricane love. There just isn’t. They’re the Whalers, they’re from Hartford, and they don’t belong in Raleigh. Period.

    b) Watching the Rangers lose is one of the great pleasures of sport – like watching Derek Jeter once again fail to get to a totally routine grounder up the middle five seconds after some clueless broadcaster refers to him as the “heart and soul of the Yankees.”

    c) Having obeyed orders and averted my eyes from #2, I feel no need to talk about the abomination that is the New Jersey Devils. (I will, however, grudgingly acknowledge that the misguided and obviously brainwashed bloggers in charge of Interchangeable Parts are indispensable to the hockey blogosphere.)

    d) Re: the Wild. “responsible defense and their impenetrable goalie…?” You clearly missed last night’s inexcusable 5-goal collapse against Calgary and tonight’s back-and-forth ridiculousness with Edmonton. Don’t get me wrong – Backstrom and Harding are studs – but Canadian propaganda to the contrary, the Wild are actually a largely offensive force this year. The question will be whether their newfound toughness will last the season, or be exposed by the rest of the brawny Northwest as a pathetic attempt to parrot the team that wiped the ice with them in the playoffs last spring. (By the way, you like Boogaard? You’ll love Brent Burns.)

    e) The Kings? Um, no. They have no fans, no players, no goalie, they’re coached by a testosterone-fuelled moron, and I don’t care who their damn bloggers are. Hockey’s first life-threatening cardiac event occurred the day that Gretzky jumped from Edmonton to LA, and I won’t have it. No.

    f) Ryan Miller is still killing my fantasy team. What if you offered to sleep with him if he keeps his GAA under 2.50 next week? I’m desperate here…

  7. 7 Meg October 26, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Kate, since acquiring Center Ice a couple weeks ago I too have discovered so much more to love about hockey. While I’m still indifferent to the Western Conference as a whole, I find it much easier to enjoy their successes when the Sabres don’t play them very often. There’s less chance of suddenly having to hate them. For example, I used to rather enjoy the Senators . . . but oh my has familiarity bred contempt.

    In the last couple weeks, however, I have discovered that I enjoy both the Kings and (even worse!) the Blackhawks. What can I say, I’m a sucker for bad to mediocre Western conference teams with exciting young talent. And since I don’t really care if they win or lose all that much, it’s totally stress-free. This secondary team thing is great!

  8. 8 Katebits October 26, 2007 at 12:37 am

    a) I don’t dislike them because of the Whalers or because of Raleigh, I dislike them because of the 2006 playoffs and because they just humiliated us.

    b) Totally.

    c) Caaaareful, Sammy! This is an all-teams-welcome blog. (Even the yuckiest team’s fans are welcome if they are nice.)

    d) Hee. I did watch the end of tonights Wild game. I think The Wild are trying to suck me in by being exciting and sloppy. I seriously appreciate their effort, and I’m sorry they lost.

    e) The heart wants what the heart wants! I like the Kings! There is nothing to be done about it. For the record, hating entire franchises is not something that comes naturally to me. You’re going to have to do a lot better than “no fans, no players, no goalie, they’re coached by a testosterone-fueled moron” to sway me for or against a team. My tastes are very whimsical and subject to change at anytime. I think liking a team because they happen to have an excellent blogger is as good a reason to like a team as any other. I’m not going to miss out on a few weeks of enjoying the Kings just because of something so trivial as no goalie. Hell, I think that’s part of why I like them! Since being good is not a criteria I hold in very high esteem for my secondary teams, I think the Kings are a perfectly good choice. Finally, I am making it my mission to keep my undies OUT of a bunch this season. I’m certainly not going to let them get bunched over Gretzky and the Kings. Today, I like the Kings, but maybe in a few weeks I’ll feel the same way about them that you do. Don’t turn this into a mission for me, Sam. You know how I can get. I will devote my life to loving the Kings if this turns into a battle of wills between us. :D

    f) Listen, if sleeping with Ryan Miller would get the job done, Lord knows I’d do my part, but the poor guy has been repeatedly SCREWED by his own defense this year. I’m not sure he’s got much more to offer in that department. Complaining about Miller messing up your fantasy team won’t get you too far in these parts. He is the actual goalie of my ACTUAL TEAM. This is a highly sensitive subject!

    g) I can’t wait to go to the game in Minnesota!

  9. 9 Schnookie October 26, 2007 at 12:38 am

    (I will, however, grudgingly acknowledge that the misguided and obviously brainwashed bloggers in charge of Interchangeable Parts are indispensable to the hockey blogosphere.)

    DAMN STRAIGHT! (And really, you should have some of this kool-aid Lou keeps shipping to IPB Manor. I can’t say it’s delicious, per se, but I always feel so satisfied after drinking a lot of it.)

  10. 10 Schnookie October 26, 2007 at 12:42 am

    they’re coached by a testosterone-fueled moron

    Katebits, you know I love Rudy Kelly as much as you do, and for that very reason I’m falling for the Kings this season, but I have to agree with Sam that Marc Crawford is a very good reason not to like them. But then again, from a secondary-team perspective, he’s good for them to have — he kind of acts as their Cam Ward, the reason why I can enjoy their losses. I might be sad for dreamy little Cammalleri (or however that’s spelled), but I’ll be delighted that Crawford coached another loss. Having a mitigating thing you dislike about a secondary team is always a good tension-release valve, I think.

  11. 11 Katebits October 26, 2007 at 12:43 am

    I kind of like the Blackhawks too, Meg! They almost made the list in fact.

    The secondary teams system is a lifeline to emotional sanity when the Sabres are sucking. Thank God the Ookies enlightened me in this regard.

  12. 12 Meg October 26, 2007 at 1:05 am

    Katebits, you know I love Rudy Kelly as much as you do, and for that very reason I’m falling for the Kings this season, but I have to agree with Sam that Marc Crawford is a very good reason not to like them.

    This is true. But there are other reasons to love them. Like Kopitar. I actually talk to a Slovenian girl online from time to time and she was so so excited just to see her country’s name showing up in the US press. It was like Kopitar spreading the gospel of hockey to Slovenia. :) She was particularly excited about that Kopitar graffiti last year.

    Also Frolov (aka he who supposedly likes literature and therefore has my love [hey, people who read books keep me employed]) is on something like a 7 game point streak and he’s on my fantasy team, so that makes me a happy camper too.

    Which is all to say that I think the good outweighs the bad when falling for the Kings at present.

  13. 13 Sam October 26, 2007 at 7:22 am

    And really, you should have some of this kool-aid Lou keeps shipping to IPB Manor.

    Sorry, Schnookie. Flyers fan for 20 years. No devil drinks for me…

  14. 14 Schnookie October 26, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Sorry, Schnookie. Flyers fan for 20 years. No devil drinks for me…

    Oh, but Sam, the red kool aid slakes one’s thirst so much better than the orange kool aid… :P

  15. 15 Amy October 26, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Great post, Kate!

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the West Coast Canadian teams, since I can see them on HNiC late at night. I don’t know if its because of the teams, or the passion their fans have for the game (the video of the Edmonton fans singing the anthems before the ’06 Cup Finals gives me chills every single time), or a combination of the two, but those games are always entertaining to watch.

  16. 16 Pookie October 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

    No devil drinks for me…

    Not even just one tiny sip? It’s sooooo tasty. Go ahead and try it. Don’t you feel so much better now? :)

    (Oh and thanks for the kind words about IPB, Sam!)

  17. 17 alix October 26, 2007 at 11:55 am

    You should try the Canucks, Kate. They have a humming giraffe playing defence. And, the Sedins have a horse. How cute is that? Plus we have Pyatt, who used to be a Sabre. Although, maybe you should wait until they actually all decide to play well at the same time. This is a great idea! I think it’s time I found a secondary team.

  18. 18 Heather B. October 26, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Ryan Miller is still killing my fantasy team. What if you offered to sleep with him if he keeps his GAA under 2.50 next week? I’m desperate here…

    Ryan’s personal numbers don’t tend to be great even when he’s winning so I don’t know if I’d be hoping for a GAA under 2.50. Unless the Sabres really start playing defense (hee!) it’s wasted energy.

    Frolov will forever be the hockey player who reads books to me now.

  19. 19 Sam October 26, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    You should try the Canucks, Kate.

    You should absolutely not try the Canucks. Evil with a capital Evil. Hell, even their logo is evil! Seriously, ask yourself, why a killer whale as the representation of a Canuck? Answer: because the team is owned by a corporation called Orca. Just imagine if every team did that – picked a logo that looked like the ownership group rather than the team name! Why, the Flyers would have to switch to some sort of visual representation of a slimy, spineless cable company executive! And they wouldn’t be able to, because Buffalo obviously already owns the copyright on horned yellow slugs.

  20. 20 Pookie October 26, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Sounds like Sam’s got a case of the “I Need a Secondary Team”s. A secondary team — like, oh say, the Devils? — would turn that frown upside down! :)

  21. 21 Sam October 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Nice try, Pook. I actually already root for two teams – the aforementioned Flyers, who I grew up with in Pennsylvania (Bucks County, since you asked,) and the Wild, who arrived in Minnesota the same year I did. It’s a nice balance – one team in the East, one in the West. One adored by the national media, one almost completely ignored. One organization famously run “the right way,” and one that fires its coaches when they get cancer and blames its best players for not delivering a Cup and then runs them out of town.

    And honestly, much as I do enjoy watching the Rangers lose, I must confess that the Devils are the team I despise above all others in the NHL. Other than the fact that they’ve won Cup after Cup while the Flyers flail helplessly, my hatred basically boils down to the two Scotts: Stevens (cheap shot artist) and Niedermayer (would be in the penalty box for 75% of every game if he were any other player.) So my apologies, Ookies, but I won’t be turning Newark-ward anytime soon…

  22. 22 alix October 26, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Ahhhh! The Canucks are NOT evil! Hey wasn’t it a Flyer that cross checked a Canuck in the face? And the Orca represents the west coast.Gotta represent. We’re not even owned by Orca Bay anymore. I’m shocked you’re friends with a Canucks hater Kate :p

  23. 23 Sam October 26, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Yeah, it was a Flyer. He’s not a Flyer anymore, and never should have been. It was an inexcusable hit, and the suspension was too short for my tastes. It was one of those moments that made me ashamed to be a Flyers fan, not unlike when they brought Donald Brashear on board to goon it up for a few years. But seriously, did a Canucks fan just bring up another team’s history of illegal hits? Need I even speak the name Steve Moore?

    And let it be remembered that following the Moore assault, the coach and GM of the Canucks, who had all but put a bounty on Moore’s head, stood 100% behind Bertuzzi and his despicable act, which was far worse than Boulerice’s. He served a measly 13-game suspension, cried for the TV cameras, and is still playing the game. Boulerice will likely never see an NHL rink again. Nor, for that matter, will Steve Moore.

  24. 24 Sam October 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Man, I seem to be cranky today! Sorry. I’ll stop monopolizing Kate’s comments section now.

  25. 25 Katebits October 26, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Don’t listen to him, alix! I like the Canucks! (I like them because I like their new jerseys. Unlike everyone else in the world, I think the big blocky VANCOUVER is kind of fun.) Things like jersey design are perfectly good criteria to consider when choosing a secondary team.

    Oh, Sam is just a Surl-a-saurus Rex! He totally has a case of the “I need a secondary team”-itus! I don’t think there is any hope of curing him of his Devil-hate. That’s a lost cause (in fact I thought his head was going to explode this summer when i was going on and on about how cute the Devils are). I will give him that much seeing as though he is a lifetime Flyers fan, but…..

    Sam, you can’t hate ALL the other teams! Who, pray tell, do you endorse as a secondary team? Please keep in mind that the Flyers are disqualified because of Daniel Briere. Period. Non-negotiable. And I have already chosen The Wild. Criteria for inclusion in the secondary team role has nothing to do with skill, and everything to do with the appeal of the players. Also, the play-by-play guys have to be not hideously irritating (Incidentally, I enjoyed the Wild announcers the other night. I like the Penguins guys too.) So, seriously, who do you like besides your two teams. Neither of your teams are secondary so they don’t count. Which teams do you just like because you think they are kind of cute and fun? Fess up. You can’t hate EVERYONE.

  26. 26 Katebits October 26, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Don’t apologize, Sam! Just tell me who sets your Flyers-loving heart aflutter!

  27. 27 Sam October 26, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Ahem. Fine. Here is a list of teams that I don’t mind seeing do well, as long as it isn’t at the expense of Philly or Minny:

    Eastern Conference
    Boston (I was born there, and my parents are both Bobby Orr fanatics)
    Ottawa (Alfredsson/Spezza/Heatley is the best line in hockey)
    Montreal (best uniforms in the game)
    Buffalo (scrappy underdog factor)
    Pittsburgh (ditto)
    Islanders (someone’s gotta like ’em)

    Western Conference
    Detroit (there’s no denying they’re a great organization)
    St. Louis (most underrated sports town in the US)
    Chicago (ding dong, the Wirtz is dead)
    sigh…Calgary. There. I said it. Fucking Calgary. And they’re a division rival and everything! No idea why – I just like them and their fire-engine-red sweaters and their cool-looking Saddledome.

  28. 28 Katebits October 27, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Hee! Sammy and the Fla-ames sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

    Aww, I’m glad to see you have a proper stable of secondary teams. I’m so proud of you!

  29. 29 Sam October 27, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Only now I’m really freaked out about having admitted the Calgary thing, especially after the way they spanked the Wild this week, with Phaneuf being all “I’ll beat up whoever I want and take no penalties!” and all. It’s just… it’s like Meg (I think it was Meg) said a while back. When you have the Center Ice package, and you’re addicted to HNiC, and you don’t live in the Eastern time zone, you learn fast that Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey are the real diamonds in that particular rough, and so you watch a lot of late games, especially after coming home from Saturday concerts, and…

    …dammit, why does this feel like I just came out? (Again.)

  30. 30 Patty (in Dallas) October 27, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I guess the Stars are out, huh? I probably shouldn’t even make a list of reasons to like them.

    This is a great post, Kate. Center Ice immediately expanded my horizons, too. I got it because I didn’t like the fact that my team didn’t play every day and I needed something to watch the rest of the time, but it sure helped me pick out some teams. My list changes every year, because I learn to hate teams I once kind of liked.

    I think RudyKelly is a good enough reason to like the Kings, too. And I was kind of warming to them since we always beat them, and then they go and beat us so now they’re off my list again.

  31. 31 Schnookie October 27, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Did you say you’re from Bucks County, Sam? We’re, like, neighbors! (We’re in the Princeton area.)

    And I totally understand and respect your knee-jerk anti-Devilsism. I mean, you’re wrong, but I’ll respect that not everyone can make the right choices in life. :P

  32. 32 Sam October 27, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for the understanding. And yes, not just Bucks County, but halfway between Doylestown and New Hope, practically suburban to Princeton. Beautiful country… (Of course, I hightailed it out as soon as I was able and never really looked back, but that’s the nature of things. Still enjoy visiting.)

    On another note, I knew I was tempting fate by bringing up Steve Moore, and clearly, the hockey gods were not pleased with my implied sense of team superiority. Not 24 hours later, yet another Flyer lays yet another goonish, illegal hit on an opponent who winds up laid out on the ice. (And just to complete the karmic retribution, Patrice Bergeron is on my fantasy team.) I haven’t been this embarrassed to be a Philadelphia fan since Brett Myers punched his wife in the face. What the hell is wrong with the athletes in this town?

  33. 33 Katebits October 28, 2007 at 12:59 am

    FYI, not only are you neighbors, you’re all Quakers too.

    I think that getting the Ookies and Sam to all be friends is my hockey version of the Parent Trap.

  34. 34 Schnookie October 30, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    You know, there’s been something bugging me since meeting you, Katebits — I just haven’t been able to put my finger on who you reminded me of. But now I know: Hayley Mills! Thanks!

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