If you’re like me you, last night you went to your orchestra rehearsal and carefully shielded yourself from the Sabres score so that you could race home, pour yourself a nice glass of boxed wine, and crochet granny squares while watching the game on DVR delay. You watched the first period and thought, “The Sabres are so scrappy and fun tonight! Yaaaaay! This is exactly what Sabres fans need, a nice easy win. So what if they gave up a last minute goal in the first period, it’s still 3-1. It’s all good.” Then you poured yourself a second glass of boxed wine, and as soon as the Flyers scored their second goal you thought, “The Sabres are definitely going to lose this game.” And you would’ve been right. Basically at this point Sabres fans would be stupid to expect the Sabres to hold onto a 3-o lead at home.
By the midpoint of the game I was so certain of a Sabres loss that when Drew Stafford scored the late tying goal only part of me said, “WOOOOOOOOO!” The other part was like, “Eff you, Staffy. Don’t score a late tying goal and then expect me to forgive you for everything you’ve put me through. I can’t even look at you right now.”
Yep. It’s like that these days.
After I finished the game at 11:30pm, in an effort to be less cranky, I ate half a loaf of olive bread. Unsurprisingly (in retrospect), that didn’t make me feel better at all. When I woke up this morning I had a stomach-ache AND I still had a resounding sense of “hmph”-in-my-heart in regards to the Sabres. So, I was forced into my plan of last resort. I had to look at this picture:
I’m not sure why looking at cute pictures of animals makes me feel better about stupid stuff, but it does. It’s weird because in real life I’m sort of lukewarm on animals. I like them, but they’re often smelly and they leave fur on your clothes and your couch and they’re rarely as cute in reality as they are in picture form.
Even though I’m pretty disinterested in thinking seriously about the Sabres right now, I do feel some obligation to discuss the Sabres on my Sabres blog, so I’m going to give this a try. But let’s face it, asking Sabres fans to read blog posts about the Sabres in addition to watching the Sabres the play hockey is a pretty big favor at this point.
I’ve tried this before, and it worked pretty well, so we’re going to try again. If you read something that you find upsetting or too frustrating to bear, please QUICKLY look at one of the helpful animal photos that accompany this post. (And I should admit here that all these pictures were lifted from Cute Overload. I canNOT recommend Cute Overload highly enough for all your make-me-feel-better-about-something-stupid needs.)
1. The Sabres SUCK ASS at home. Of all the ways a team can be bad, consistently melting down in front of your home crowd miiiight be the worst possible way. In an ideal world the Sabres and their fans would sign up for some group therapy so that we can figure out why our relationship is so dysfunctional, but sadly, this is not an ideal world. As much as I wish I could convince everyone in FNC to communicate with the team only use “I statements” when watching a Sabres game (accusations never work, people!), I know it can’t be done. (ex: “Marc-Andre Gragnani, when you pass the puck directly to Claude Giroux during overtime, I feel deep sadness in my soul.”) Consistently losing at home has taken its toll. There is almost no trust between the team and the fans right now. The team can fix this by ripping off about six home wins in a row. Other than being nicer and hoping that niceness somehow makes the team less spazzy, the fans are pretty helpless. The only solution is big beers, and lots of ’em.
2. It feels like all we ever do now is argue about who should be suspended, and for how long. Personally I take no enjoyment from this conversation. I’m not sure what the solution is here because there is just no way we’re ever all going to agree on everything Shanahan does. There is literally no way. Here are some of my answers to the burning questions surrounding suspensions and non-suspension:
Do I think some of Shanahan’s decisions have been totally wackadoo? Absoluuuutely.
Do I think Shanahan is better than Colin Campbell? Sure.
Do I think there is a vast conspiracy against the Sabres? Uh, no.
Do I think the Bruins get special treatment? Oh for fuck’s sake. I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not. This is stupid.
Do I think it’s open season on
goalies Ryan Miller? Hard to say. kinda
Do I think Lucic is a tool? YES.
Should this dog be suspended for his egregious public digging?
3. The whole league was realigned. I don’t have particularly strong feelings about the realignment (although, I secretly wanted Detroit in our division), but I HATE the current playoff format being bandied about. Please Hockey Gods, DO NOT let this happen. Why do we have to mess with a perfectly good playoff format just because the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg?
I hate the argument that hatred makes for better playoff matchups. That’s stupid. Hatred makes for more hateful playoff matchups, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be more fun or interesting. And why do we want our passion for the playoffs fueled by hate, anyway? I mean, geez. I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite. I especially like smiling during the playoffs.
Two rounds of playoffs within the division is TOO MUCH.
4. And about the realignment (and I acknowledge that this is just a minor quibble), but if the NHL winds up calling the new groups “conferences” I’m going to be irked. Those are divisions, NHL.
5. This is a difficult topic for me to write about right now, but I feel the need to say something about fighting in hockey.
I was sincerely rattled by the New York Times 3-part series about the life and death of Derek Boogaard. I think this series should be required reading for every hockey fan. Please, please read this story.
I’d prefer not to debate the tactical merits or drawbacks of fighting on the pages of this blog right now, but I will say this:
I’ve spent most of my time as a hockey fan feeling pretty neutral about fighting in the NHL, but this season has really been different for me. The new information about the effects of concussion combined with a broader awareness of the depression and substance abuse problems that many of hockey’s enforcers face has pushed me out of my neutral position. I used to tolerate most hockey fights, and even enjoy a bout or two per season, but now I outright hate it, every time. I took no comfort in the fight between Gaustad and Lucic. None. For me, that fight (and everything leading up to it) was upsetting, and nothing more.
This issue has really begun to effect my enjoyment of hockey. Maybe this anti-fighting sentiment is something that will come and go in waves for me. Maybe I’ll learn to tolerate fighting again. Maybe more evidence will swing my opinion in a different direction. Maybe I’ll simply find a way to make peace with fighting in hockey. Maybe I’ll stop taking fighting so seriously. I don’t know. But right now, hockey fighting really, really bothers me on a core level.
6. This has nothing to do with hockey, but here goes:
After a lifetime of indifference towards my physical fitness (or lack thereof), this summer I began to take baby steps towards trying to get into shape. (And I DO mean baby steps. Little baby steps on little baby walks is how I started.) Then about a month ago I joined a gym and started to work with a personal trainer. I’m not sure why my mindset was different this time (I’ve joined gyms before), but for some reason this time I was able to say to myself, “Self, you’re not in shape now, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to do this even if you feel stupid at first.”
My problem with gyms in the past has always been that my pride had not allowed me to just be sweaty and out of breath. I hated the feeling of struggling within eyesight of other people. I honestly don’t know what’s changed, but this time I’ve embraced the humility involved with going to a gym. Sure, sometimes I’m kind of embarrassed when I can’t do something, but mostly I can just sort of laugh and think, “Hm. I wonder how I’ve been managing to SIT UPRIGHT all these years with this ridiculous lack of core strength.” Then, I do the plank pose for a few weeks, and I actually see improvement. It’s been pretty cool to feel myself getting stronger.
I guess I’m just saying that going to this gym has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me. If you are someone who struggles to stay fit, I encourage you to keep trying. You just never know when exercising is going to “click” and become something other than a terrible chore.