The concept of “the bandwagon fan” is very controversial, but I have a fondness in my heart for the new fan. After all, it was at this time of year that I myself hopped on the Sabres bandwagon. Every fan has to start somewhere, and often fandom is inspired by the playoffs. The current Sabres may not feel like a bandwagon-y situation to a longtime fan, but I’m writing this series for the “Katebitses of 2007”; the guy or gal who is suddenly drawn to the Sabres, but doesn’t know where to begin.
Begin here, Bandwagoner!
Part One: Ryan Miller
The most important thing to know about the Sabres is that our goalie is Ryan Miller.
Here’s the thing about his playing: it’s QUITE nifty. The more you watch him, the more you’re going to love him. At his best he exudes a palpable confidence and calm (which is good because his teammates can be a bunch of spazzes). He’s not exactly flashy, but the dude really gets the job done. In past seasons by the end of the year he’s looked a little worn out and haggard, but this year he seems to have found a new reserve of energy. He appears to be pacing himself incredibly well, especially considering his extensive and emotional participation in the Olympics. AND, if the Olympics are any indication, we can expect him to UP his game as the stakes get higher…which is (singsongvoice) AWEsome.
Now, some people are going to go on and on and on about how he’s a great goaltender (and those people will be right), but the MOST important thing to know about Miller is that he’s fascinating and hiLARious.
When it comes to the Sabres, there is one thing you can ALWAYS count on, and that’s that Ryan Miller will say something interesting the next time he speaks. Compared to other athletes, he’s much more open about his emotions and thought processes. He never gives you the old, “We just have to go out there and give a hundred and ten percent,” interviews. He’s always got something interesting to say, and he’s always got an articulate and often funny way of saying it. And while he DEFINITELY seems semi-bonkers, it’s in a really fun, easy-to-love, charmingly neurotic way. For example, when asked how he was going to stay energized for the playoff push after the Olympics, Miller explained that he was going to live very simply, “like an infant child”. He could’ve just said he was going to get lots of rest, but no, he had to plant the image of himself sitting on the couch in a onesie, living the simple life with a bottle of warm milk on the coffee table. (Okay, there might be a liiitle bit of creative indulgence on my part in this instance. I’m just saying, this is the kind of thinking a Ryan Miller interview inspires.)
As a new fan, when picking a favorite player, you should approach the Sabres with extreme caution. Many of them canNOT be trusted to treat your fandom with loving care. Roy-Z. Just when you think it’s safe to trust them, they can suddenly become lazy, careless, and TERRIBLE at shooting the puck into the net. And don’t even get me started on free agency. When I first started watching the Sabres, I made the terrible mistake of falling for Chris Drury, and I paid DEARLY for this mistake when he trampled on my heart four months later by revealing himself to be a loathsome Ranger. Don’t let this happen to you, Bandwagon Fan. Not only is Ryan Miller genuinely and fantastically terrific, he’s under contract for another four years.
Ryan “Crunchy” Miller is the heart of the Sabres, and that is very, very good news for Sabres fans. To know him is to love him.
Welcome to Sabres fandom, Bandwagoner.