My Sabres fandom sprouted up during a time when I was struggling to settle into Buffalo. Sure, I had been living in Buffalo for almost six years at the time, but I hadn’t settled down here. Not really. Falling in love with the Sabres helped me take a closer look at Buffalo and all of the wonderful people who live here, and in a very literal way, the Sabres turned Buffalo into my home. At this point, my love for Buffalo encompasses far more than just hockey, but I will always view the Sabres through this sociological lens.
When the entirety of the North American hockey media, including our own local paper, was constantly beating the “no one wants to play in Buffalo” drum all season, well, it effected me on more levels than just hockey analysis. It’s almost difficult to admit how much that…hurt my feelings. I can’t separate my love for the Sabres from my love for Buffalo, and as a result, that type of broad criticism of the team feels almost personal. I know that thinking this way is totally irrational, I do, but at the risk of being way off the mark, I don’t think I’m the only person in town who feels this way. I think the prevailing notion that no player would WANT to live and play here has been hard on us. I know it’s been hard on me.
I feel so much better about that now.
It’s not fair to expect our athletes to embrace or embody Buffalo, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when Ryan Miller does it willingly. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a nice payday for Crunchy, but I don’t think there is any way around the fact that his new contract is a strong statement that all along he wanted to stay here and be a Sabre.
It means so much to me to hear Ryan Miller saying good things about Buffalo. The fact that he likes it here, and that he appreciates how the community embraces the team, well, that means a lot to me. Ryan MIller believes in the current direction of the Buffalo Sabres. That means a lot to me. For the first time in over a year, I feel some real distance from the co-captains debacle. That means a lot to me. I trust Ryan Miller to represent the Sabres well, both on the ice and in the community, and that means a lot to me.
There will be plenty of opportunity to weigh and judge this signing. Soon we will get to analyze, and carry on, and dissect every aspect of the new season, but for today, on July 18th, I’m going to go ahead and simply enjoy Crunchy’s new contract. I don’t give a rip about his cap hit. I really don’t. I’m just glad he’s ours. He’s one of us.