Archive for March, 2009



Lindy and Buffalo

“We think, and many people think, that the town needs to win a major sports championship, to correct the inferiority complex in the psyche of the community.”

-Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, NY

This quote from Byron Brown was part of the Sports illustrated article about Chris Drury a few years ago.  When I first read it, I was taking my very first baby steps towards Buffalo sports fandom.  Of everything I read in that article, this is the thing that stood out most to me, and it’s a quote that I have returned to many times since I first read it in 2007.  At the time, I thought it was preposterous, even scandalous, that our mayor would say such a thing.  The idea that we MUST have a championship to correct the inferiority complex in the psyche of the community seemed downright unsightly, and certainly inappropriate for a mayor to admit out loud.

In the two years since then, I’ve come to read this quote quite differently.  It no longer seems embarrassing, or preposterous, or scandalous.

Now, it just seems honest.

________

I’m pretty shocked at the degree of passion I feel over the FIRE LINDY RUFF issue.  It’s not that I passionately want Lindy to be fired, it’s more that I feel as if a lightbulb has flickered on above my head, and suddenly I’m all, “Duh.  Lindy Ruff should be fired.”  The trouble is, very few other people have had this revelation, and for the most part, I find myself ranting alone.

I assure you, it has not gone unnoticed that very few of you are rushing to agree with me in the comment threads.  I know you hate this topic, I know the majority of you don’t agree with me, and I know I am risking alienating a lot of my readers by continuing to harp on this issue….but I can’t stop myself.  I feel strongly about this, and the more I think about it, the more strongly I feel.  Just bear with me for one more post.

I don’t want to argue that Lindy is a bad coach.  I don’t think he’s a bad coach.  All I’m arguing is that he’s getting bad results, and that I think the Sabres should consider firing Lindy.  I’m not even sure I think they HAVE to fire him, but I am sure that it should be on the table as a perfectly reasonable option.  Firing the coach should be on the menu of things we hear about when people discuss the Sabres on the radio and in the newspaper.  That’s all.

But that’s NOT all, because Buffalo has an incredibly strong love for Lindy Ruff.  This fanbase loves Lindy more than we love any one player.  We love Lindy.  He’s important to us, and he’s important to this community.  I’m not discounting that love in the slightest.  I love Lindy too.

On one hand, this attachment to Lindy is incredibly moving.  It’s loyalty, it’s gratitude, it’s respect, and in an interesting way, I think it’s a tribute to how we as a community want to be viewed.  We love Lindy, and we want him to represent us.  I think that’s beautiful.  I can think of very few people I’d rather have representing Buffalo than Lindy Ruff.

But on the other hand, I also think our attachment to Lindy Ruff is a symptom of a deeply rooted problem.  It’s a city-wide inability to let go of some romantic notion of how we want Buffalo to be, and meanwhile, we’re neglecting a whole host of other serious problems.  It’s as if the entire city is enchanted by some mirage, and because of that glimmering illusion, we won’t settle for anything less.  It’s a symptom of whatever it is in our makeup that makes it so difficult to build a much needed new bridge, or a fishing mega-store, or to downsize the government to match the actual size of the population.

I think there is something going on here that runs much deeper than sports.

Whether or not you agree with me that it’s time for a new coach, I think it’s very hard to dispute that this is a conversation that could have started a year and a half ago.  If we had been thinking critically, we would have started this conversation a year and a half ago.  The fact that the entirety of the sports media has been virtually silent about this speaks volumes.  In my opinion, we’re not just reluctant to have this conversation, we’re downright scared of it.

I think Buffalo needs to take a hard look in the mirror and we need to prioritize winning.  And not just in hockey.

I’m not talking about prioritizing winning in some make-believe, warm and fuzzy, Lindy-holding-the-Cup-over-his-head-in-HSBC way.   It’s time to prioritize winning in the forget-the-romantic-ideals, make-the-hard-choices, and get-the-job-done….WINNING way.

I know that this is just hockey.  I know that we fans have no control over any of it, and I know that some of you will think I’m seriously stretching the parameters of a sports blog by writing this post, but I guess I just had to say it.  From the beginning of my romance with the Sabres, above all else, I’ve been drawn to how this town is shaped and effected by its relationship to sports.  I think there are direct sociological lines that can be drawn between how we approach sports, and how we approach the future of our city.

In no way am I suggesting that we should “demand more” from the Sabres- that’s foolishness- but until this week, it was nearly taboo to criticize Lindy Ruff in this town.  Until this week, I had never heard Lindy criticized in the paper or on the radio, ever.  That means something.  We should notice that, and we should think about what that says about our willingness to change and evolve in Buffalo.

Whether or not you agree that Lindy Ruff should have a job for life, this conversation is worth having.  It’s good for us.  It’s good to discuss change and seriously examine our options, and it’s good to question the status quo.  It’s healthy.

And in that way, this conversation is about much, much more than hockey.

_______

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

4 Things About the Lindy Debate (and then I need a break from this topic)

1. Today I heard Howard Simon say (and I’m totally paraphrasing), “Lindy reams these guys out after EVERY GAME, he yells at them, he makes them sit through long video sessions, he drills the fundamentals, he never lets up. And then night after night, they come out flat and with no effort.”

When I heard Howard say all that I was thinking, “Exactly.  Lindy’s lost the room.  They are tuning him out.  Nothing he says is getting through.  His message is stale.”

And then Howard finished his thought by saying, “So obviously, it’s NOT LINDY’S fault.  Lindy is doing his job.  IT’S THE FAULT OF THE PLAYERS.  They’re not listening!”

I guess don’t think it matters whose fault it is.  To me, the only point that matters is that Lindy is ineffective.  I thought it was interesting that Howard Simon thinks all the evidence points to Lindy being awesome, and I think all the same evidence points to the Sabres desperately needing a new coach.

2. I believe change is good, and I think we Buffalonians are too resistant to change.  I wrote a lot about that in the comment thread from my last post, so if you want to read more about it go here.

3. It’s been such a relief to hear Mike Schopp and Mike Harrington squawking about Lindy this week.  I think it’s absolutely bizarre that our local media, who is SO critical of the Sabres is so many other ways, treats Lindy with such kid gloves.  The gloves are begining to come off, and even though it’s painful in some ways, I think the conversation about the team can be a lot more honest now.  Even if Lindy has job security for life, he shouldn’t be treated as untouchable in the Sabres dialog anymore.

4. I would say, in general I’m really, REALLY not a FIRE-THIS-MAN-RIGHT-NOW kind of gal.   Calling for the head of a man I respect and admire has worn me out, so I’m going to bed. Goodnight, SabresNation!  Sleep the deep sleep of fans who had the day off from watching their team play.  Maybe tomorrow it will all be better.  Zzzz.

It’s Time

Well, at least they’re not half-assing it.  They’re not just bad, they’re horrifying.

If I were the GM of the Sabres, I would fire Lindy Ruff.  Not because I think he’s a bad coach, but because he’s obviously a bad coach for this particular team, and this is the team we have signed for the next four years.

Coach Killing

Kate: I think the Sabres are trying to get Lindy fired.

Heather: I hate those little bastards.

Kate: Yeah, but you have to admit, this team needs a shake-up.  Either the players or the coach has to go, right?

Heather: I HATE that it’s come to this.  This is the WORST season ever.

Kate: Totally.

Heather: I don’t think Darcy would ever fire Lindy.

Kate: Well, then Darcy has to go too.

Heather: That’s AWFUL.  I LOVE Darcy.

Kate: I know you do, but I’m sorry both Lindy and Darcy have to go.

Heather: What if they’re only gone temporarily? We tell the Sabres, ‘You’ve lost your Darcy and Lindy privileges for the rest of the season!”

Kate: I’m not sure that’s enough.  The Sabres have to think they’re GONE, and that it’s ALL their fault.  They need to feel really, really guilty.

Heather: But could we TRICK the Sabres into thinking that Darcy and Lindy are gone forever?

Schnookie: Maybe Lindy and Darcy should fake their own deaths.

Kate: Oooooh.  I like it.  Maybe a murder-suicide…..and maybe they could leave a note like, “Dear Sabres, look what you did!  You drove us to kill ourselves and each other!”

Heather: ….What?  That makes no sense.

Kate: Who cares!  It’s the Sabres, they’re not very smart.  These deaths don’t have to add up.  We just need the Sabres to think they have Lindy’s blood on their hands.

Heather: Oh, Pominville would HATE to have Lindy’s blood on his hands.

Kate: He totally would.

Heather: All of the players would be wracked with guilt, and then with Lindy and Darcy “dead,” I can be the GM and you can be the coach.

Kate: THAT IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA!

Heather: I like how this plan is coming together.

Kate: Me too.  So….we send Lindy and Darcy off to Europe to live in secrecy, tell the Sabres they’ve been murdered, and take control of the team.

Heather: Do you think the Sabres would really buy it?

Kate: Of course.  They’re idiots.

Heather: Maybe we should get a hair sample from Lindy first.  You know to leave at the scene of the crime.  DNA evidence to prove he’s dead.  Maybe a finger or two…

Kate: I’m sure that Lindy would sacrifice a pinky for “Operation: Freak the Sabres the Eff Out.”

Heather: Heh.  He totally would.  If we can’t get his hair we can just use yellow baby duck fuzz follicles.  We only have to fool the Sabres here.  Pominville and Staffy would TOTALLY think little tufts of baby duck fuzz is proof of Lindy’s death.

Kate: Then, we could plant the seed that WE killed Lindy and Darcy, and if the Sabres don’t shape up, THEY’RE NEXT.

Heather: I honestly think that that might be the only way to make them stick to the system- if they think they’ll literally die if they don’t.

Kate: I bet Pommerdoodle would have cleared that puck on Saturday if he had thought his life was on the line.

Heather: It’s foolproof!

Kate: Crunchy would probably get all uppity about “solving the mystery”.

Heather: Ugh.  That guy can’t just let ANYTHING be.

Kate: But maybe solving the mystery can be the thing that brings the team together!  They can solve the crime, prove we killed Lindy and Darcy and then learn that in order to win games they have to work together.

Heather: Ooh! Ooh!  I HAVE A REALLY GOOD IDEA!  What if, we “accidentally” left a book called “The System: Lindy Ruff’s Guide to Solving a Murder,” sitting around in the locker room for the guys to find?

Kate: So, they would find the book, read it, and then SOLVE LINDY’S MURDER BY STICKING TO THE SYSTEM?!

Heather: It’s PERFECT!

Kate: Can Lindy’s “system” for solving murders be oddly similar to his “system” for playing hockey?

Heather: Totally.

Kate: Like, ‘Step one to solving a murder: with three second to go in a game, make SURE to hit the puck hard enough off the boards to CLEAR THE ZONE.’

Heather: We can plant more and more fake clues about the murders as they improve their game.  If they play a whole game without any disasterous turnovers we can leave a note in Vanek’s locker like, “I am an anonymous tipster moved to help because of the defensively sound game I just watched you play.  If you want to know who killed Darcy and Lindy make sure you know who benefited from their deaths. If you keep playing well, I’ll give you more clues.”

Kate: Do you think Vanek is smart enough to solve that clue?

Heather: No way, but presumably he’d show the note to Ryan Miller.  Crunchy can figure it out.

Kate: Then, once the Sabres have been whipped into shape by fear of death, and compelled to work together to avenge Lindy and Darcy’s deaths, it can be revealed that Lindy and Darcy are NOT really dead!

Heather: And everyone is happy….and not dead OR fired!

Kate: …and everyone is good at hockey again!

Heather: Hooray!

Kate: We’re going to be the best GM and coaching team EVER!

*high five*

The End


Please Come Home

Last year at this time I was still all full of hope and sass.  Even when the Sabres sucked (which was often) I was willing to take every win at WAY over face value.  Last season, every single win, all the way up to when they were eliminated, was a sign that things were about to turn around.  I might not have always loved them, but I seemed to have an unshakable faith that they were worth cheering for.

Sadly, another full season of streakiness and hovering around 7th-10th place has taken it’s toll on my faith and my blogging.  I’m at a loss.

I have all the Sabres cataloged in my head.  There is a pecking order.  I rag on Drew Stafford all the time, but when he’s playing well, I really have a lot of affection for him.  I love to hate Derek Roy.  When he’s playing well, my attitude is “Well, you better be scoring goals, you little punk.  Earn your keep, Roy-Z.  Also, shut up.”  Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly are supermen when they are playing well, and disgusting slag-faced whores when they’re not.  Toni Lydman is an unsung hero, except for when he makes a hideous mistake and then I feel deep pity on his behalf.  Spacek is comic relief.  Craig Rivet and Lindy are the father figures to rebel against.  Goose can do absolutely no wrong.  Crunchy is awesome, possibly evil, and always fascinating, even in the bad stretches.  Maxim Afinogenov is a spy, and even though I’m sure he’s been selling all the Sabres secrets to the KGB for years now, I’m going to miss him when he’s gone.  All of the Sabres have their place.

Which brings me to Jason Pominville.

Of all the things that have gone wrong this year, Jason Pominville is the most upsetting.  He makes me sad.  He is SO BAD, and he doesn’t even look like he’s trying.  Suddenly the contract we were all so excited about last summer is terrifying.  Five more years?  At $5.3 a year?  *shudder*

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I enjoy ragging on my team.  I’ve got no trouble hating on the Sabres, and normally I’m not that attached to them being cute or sweet or even good at hockey.  But…..I cannot reconcile this Jason Pominville with the Jason Pominville I have cataloged in my mind.  Pommerdoodle is in the “hard working, steady, good dog” category.  Period.  Anything else is just too upsetting to bear.  I can accept that the Sabres suck, and that they’re never making the playoffs again, but I cannot accept that Jason Pominville is phoning it in because of his contract.  I’ve tried to rag on Pommerdoodle as if he were a Vanek or Timmy or any of the other Sabres who I am perfectly willing to throw under the bus, but it’s really no fun.  Jason Pominville is no Thomas Vanek.

So, I’m drawing a line in the sand.  The cynicism and the bitterness go no further.

I am a fan of Jason Pominville.

He’ll be back.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but whatever it is, for now, I’m putting my head in the sand, and I’m ignoring it.  Sabres fans have had a bitter pill to swallow this season, but I can’t swallow a lazy Jason Pominville. (That’s what she said.)  I can’t and I won’t.  Eff you, Hockey Gods!

I guess every bitter, cranky fan has her limits before she is forced to rely on irrational faith.

Lost Pommerdoodle

*fingers crossed*

Sabres vs. Thrashers, 3/14/09

Pregame

Remember me?  That chick who used to blog about the Sabres?   Well, I’m back baby.  Last week I meandered away from our little slug clad anti-heroes.  I just couldn’t care about them.  But then I went to the Panthers game.  My mission going into the arena was, “Don’t let them put you in a bad mood.”  I enjoyed that game immensely, and I think I probably would have enjoyed myself even if the Sabres had played themselves out of the playoff race.  A switch has been flipped in my approach to this season.  Frankly, I’m assuming they are going to miss the playoffs now, which sounds depressing on the surface, but in reality my new bad attitude has allowed me to enjoy hockey again.  The season is going to be over before we know it, and I might as well enjoy the games we have left.   It’s crappy hockey, but it’s still hockey.

Mood: Tired, dude!  I’ve been violing like it’s going out of style.  When I’m not playing the viola, I’m sewing little square scraps of fabric together.  My life is very glamorous.
Favorite Sabres: Let’s see, who is on this team again?  No, no, no NOT him, um, no, no, no, maaybe, no, no, oh HELL NO, no, nope, oooh!  Patrick Lalime!  Patrick Lalime is a hero, and don’t you forget it.
Least Favorite Sabre: Jason Pominville is just freaking me out now.
Prediction: Thrashers win 3-1.  Sorry.
Fabric representing my hope for this game: Black and gray plaid.  I have replaced the time I used to spend thinking about hockey, with time spent thinking about fabric.  I have a disease.  My name is Kate, and I’m addicted to looking at fabric online.  You can expect this blog to morph from nonsense about hockey to nonsense about fabric any day now. (Fabric and hockey are pretty much the same audience, right?)  Anyhoo, I’m predicting this game will be a boring old square of black plaid.
detdayzckbw

Black plaid isn’t really bad, it’s just a little lame.  Kind of like the Sabres.

After the 1st (1-0, Thrashers)

Mood: Unimpressed.  That was pretty uninspired.  The Sabres look tight, and they are being out worked by the Thrashers.
Favorite Sabre: Max.  I’ve had a weird burst of affection for Max since he’s returned from his injury.  It’s not like he’s been hugely effective or anything, but he often looks like the only Sabre on the ice who really gives a damn.  Sure, he usually just skates spastically around before taking a weird angle shot that deflects directly to the opposition, but whatever.  At least he looks like he’s trying.
Least Favorite Sabre: Jason Pominville is never scoring again.  I don’t think he’s even trying to score anymore.
Fabric representing this game so far: camouflage that appears in normal street clothes.

camo-jungle-evk-6165-48

Not cute.

After the 2nd (3-1, Sabres)

Mood: Relieved.  I was getting worried that I was going to have to think of a fabric worse than camouflage and the very thought was making my head spin.  Also, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Summary of events: First the Sabres were like, “Hm.  Is a diaper worse than camouflage?  Can a diaper even be considered fabric?  Isn’t a diaper something you make out of fabric?”  But then they were all, “Hey, let’s stop trying to think of a fabric uglier than camouflage and try to score some goals.”
Favorite Sabre: Maxim Afinogenov.  You know what?  Common sense be damned.  I love him.
Least Favorite Sabre: Still Pommers, but maybe slightly less so because he appeared to TRY to score at least once in that period.
Fabric representing this game so far:

after the first goal:  Lily Posy from Baskets of Flowersbasketsofflowers-18034-20-450

Kind of prim, but still a cutie.

After the second goal: Bluebell Posy from Baskets of Flowersbasketsofflowers-18034-18-450

oooooh.  KEY-UTE!

After the THIRD goal: AH09 Gold from (my beloved) Garden Party

ah09goldLike a ray of sunshine, Max and Vanek team up for prettiness.

After the 3rd, OT, and a shootout (4-3, Thrashers)

Mood: Grossed out, and incredibly sad for Patrick Lalime.  Poor bastard.

Summary of Events: The Sabres give up a shortie to make it 3-2.  Jason Pominville fails to clear the puck with three seconds to go, and the Thrashers tie the game.  Then, somewhere in Edmonton, Ales Kotalik chuckles wryly as twenty million Sabres fail to score in the shootout.

Fabric representing this game: Cloth diaper.

clothdiaper41Just be glad I chose a clean diaper.


Patrick Lalime is a Hero, Part II

They won!  I saw it with my own two eyes!


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