Archive for the 'Kate’s Favorite Sabre Competition' Category

KFS II, Attempting to Right What Once Went Wrong: Jochen Hecht

Alright, this is going to be a controversial one.

Last year I was all over the map with Jochen in the KFS competition.  First I eliminated him with nary a thought or care, then I reinstated him thinking that he might be The One, and then I eliminated him again when I realized he was (at the time) unsigned beyond the season.  After a full year of watching Yo-Yo, I feel I am finally in a postition to make an informed and fair ruling on his status as Kate’s Potential Favorite Sabre.  As you read this, please know that I respect and admire Jochen Hecht very much.  I wish only the very best for him and his family, and I would never treat an actual human being the way I am about to suggest is the proper way to treat Jochen Hecht.

Let’s begin….

Jochen Hecht is obviously a valuable member of the Sabres.  He’s hardworking, reliable, very handsome, and downright captainly.  He’s also signed as a Sabre for a goodly amount of time (“goodly” being some unit of years that I am too lazy to look up right now).  There is literally nothing not to like about Jochen Hecht.  He should be a front runner in Kate’s Favorite Sabre Competition….but sadly, he is not.

It is my theory that Jochen Hecht was born to be taken for granted.  I don’t have any overwhelming feelings of affection for Yo-Yo, and yet, if he were suddenly gone, I would be devastated.  He falls firmly into that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” category, but the thing is, he’s not gone and he won’t be gone for quite some time, so it’s my feeling that we should just go right ahead and take him for granted.

Jochen Hecht is the guy you call when your asshole boyfriend did something lame.  Jochen will come over, he’ll bring take-out, and he’ll patiently sit on the couch listening to you whine and cry over another guy.  He’s the guy you call to get up on a ladder and get the dead bird out of your rain gutter because the task is too gross and scary to do yourself.  He’s the guy you ask to feed your cat while you’re weekending in Niagara On The Lake with Paul Gaustad.  Jochen Hecht is the guy you don’t want to date yourself, but who you don’t want dating anyone else either.

He never complains, he always does what you ask, and you love him for it….but he is not your Favorite Sabre.  We take Yo-Yo for granted because that is all he requires.  Someday, Jochen is going to have a gorgeous, smart, hilarious woman to call his biggest fan, and when that day comes our hearts will break because we will suddenly realize we loved him all along, but it will be too late.  We’ll pout and carry-on like complete assholes, but in the end we’ll begrudgingly admit that he’s way too good for us and he always was.

But for now, we frequently, knowingly, and happily take him for granted.  That is how it must be.

KFS II, Attempting to Right What Once Went Wrong: Drew Stafford

Poor Angry Eyebrows!  He never really had a chance.  Last year at this time we were expecting him to be the new CHRIS DRURY for goodness sake.  Everyone was freaking out about how Drew Stafford was clearly our future captain and savior.  We expected too much, and the poor dude cracked under the pressure.

Obviously things didn’t work out very well for old Staffy last season.  When he wasn’t injured he was skating around listlessly, invisible except for when Lindy was singling him out for his suckiness.  I believe my main complaint about him at this time last year was that he seemed “cocky”.  I was terribly wrong about that.  Drew Stafford really does not seem cocky at all.  In fact, he seems quite the opposite.  I’m worried about his mental health and his emotional well being.  Staffy is making me feel all maternal and protective.

This season I pledge to be as patient and supportive of Drew Stafford as possible.  With tender love and firm guidance we can rehabilitate him.  All is not lost in Staffy’s case.  If we can stop the cycle of low self-esteem leading to lackluster performance, there is still time to turn him into an effective NHL player.  He’s far (far) from my favorite, but I still believe in him.

You can do it big guy!  *two big thumbs up and a wide (possibly fake) smile*

KFS II, Attempting to Right What Once Went Wrong: Max Afinogenov

I have a confession to make: Last year, even when I chose him as KFS, I knew full well that Max was not my real Favorite Sabre.  I basically chose him because while my affection for him is real, I knew he could be easily discarded once my true Favorite Sabre revealed himself.  Keep in mind that at this time last year I could barely tell the Sabres apart much less aptly choose my favorite.  I knew full well that he wasn’t the one, but I chose him anyway.  For this I owe him an apology.  Max, I used you and then I discarded you like a cheap piece of meat.  My bad.

In the interest in fairness, it’s time to put Max in the proper place on the scale of Kate’s Favorite Sabre.

The thing I find most interesting about my affections for Max is that they run so extremely hot and cold.  I mean, when he’s sucking (which let’s face it was nearly every second of last season) I’m likely to blame him for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  I blame him for every loss, I assume every offside he creates prevented a goal, I squawk at the television that he should be sent to Siberia to work in the salt mines during the day and at night he should be forced to write letters of apology to all the innocent Buffalonians whose lives have been ruined by lurchy skating and his haphazard stick handling.  When I hate Max, I hate him passionately, with the burning passion of ten million white hot passionate suns and all the passion that a passionate person can passionately feel.


When I like Max, he makes me laugh, which is really the highest compliment I can pay to a person I don’t know personally. Usually great hockey playing is exciting or astounding, and I suppose Max at his best is both of those things, but mostly I think he’s entertaining in a very gleeful way.  He’s funny to me, not in a laughing at him kind of way (there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING funny about Max at his worst) but more in a laughing-at-the-glorious-existence-of-such-an-absurd-skater kind of way.  I can’t think of any other player in the entire league whose best playing inspires me to giggle happily.  I really like this about Max and I pray to Lindy Ruff that this season he’ll give me less reason to throw my borscht at the television in sputtering rage and more reason to chuckle with appreciation.

Max is kind of a hard guy to rank on the scale of Sabres because I either love him or hate him- there is no in between.  I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that this year he’ll balance out the Infuriating Max with a little more Funny Max, and put him right in the middle of the pack, in the Hank Tallinder/Drew Stafford range.  He also gets many style points for having a cool girlfriend and for somehow maintaining an air of mystery and intrigue (possibly a Russian spy).

Oh, and he looks like Faye Dunaway.  Thumbs up there.


(This post is part of a series in which I am picking the Sabre most deserving of the title “Kate’s Favorite Sabre II”.  The competition is stiff.  The traits necessary to win are impossible to predict.  Anything could happen!  Every Sabre is a hero, but in the end, there can be only one.  Last year the “one” was Max Afinogenov, so you can assume this whole exercise is deeply flawed/possibly corrupt.)

Last year when I was running this competition I didn’t have very much information to work with beyond roster photos.  At the time I had seen maaaybe twenty hockey games in my life. Comparatively, I’m now a hockey expert.  This morning, armed with a new confidence in my ability to reasonably grade professional hockey players, I eagerly headed to the Sabres website.  “Time to reacquaint myself with the cast of characters and enjoy my new (and hopefully intimidating) depth of Sabres knowledge,” I thought.  I got quite a shock.

There are, like, 5 million guys on the Sabres roster right now.

Darcy Regier has been signing dudes right and left all summer.  I paid little or no attention to these guys because I assumed they were all headed straight for Portland and my already overtaxed walnut-sized brain has no room for non-NHL hockey.  Apparently, these recent acquisitions are current Sabres.

I don’t have the time for this bullhonky, so the following Sabres are cut from the competition because I have no idea who they are:

Jimmy Bonneau, Tyler Bouck, Mathieu Darch, Colton Fretter, Colin Murphy, Felix Schutz, Derek Whitmore, Chris Butler, Michael Kostka, and Dennis Persson.

JImmy Bonneau.jpg Tyler Bouck.jpg Mathieu Darche.jpg Colton Fretter.jpg

Colin Murphy.jpg Felix Schutz.jpg Derek Whitmore.jpg Chris Butler.jpg

Michael Kostka.jpg Dennis Persson.jpg

Never heard of him.

Listen, I’m a supportive and understanding person, but this is unacceptable.  It’s like they’re not even trying to be Kate’s Favorite Sabre.   I’m sorry to be to be so unwelcoming to the new kids, but HONESTLY, if you’re going to be someone I’ve never heard of you’d better also be really funny, or at the very least have a working knowledge of the viola and viola related issues.  Since these guys are neither funny or holding violas, I have no choice but to eliminate them from consideration for KFS.

Katebits: (stands up to approach the contestants) (voice dripping with false sincerity) I’m sorry, that means that you’re out.  (*kiss kiss*)  Auf wiedersehen!

Rough Night

In a solemn ceremony on the plane coming home from Boston, Toni Lydman was sworn in as Kate’s Favorite Sabre. The official time of death on Maxim Afinogenov’s reign was the 1:44 mark of the second period last night. Paul Gaustad was sworn in as Vice-KFS.

A reporter for TWC caught Katebits in a candid (and drunken) mood at a Buffalo bar on Saturday night. Katebits had this comment about the shakeup in the KFS position:

“I no likey Max Afinogenov….[wagging finger in reporter’s face] all. Oh SUuuRE, he seems like a perfectly nice guy. He’s got a cool accent and the dangerous spy vibe….[giggling dreamily]….he still looks like Faye Dunaway….[snapping back into focus]….but honestly, he’s so freaking annoying. All he ever does is skate in circles and then turn over the puck. I’m so sick of that guy. [sloshes red wine on to the floor] Toni Tony Tone is dopey and fun, plus he stops pucks with his face, like, all the time. I find him delightful. Toni and Goose are soooooo much better than Max. [pauses to take gulp of wine] I noticed recently that Goose’s hairline is receeding. [Holding wine glass up in toast] BALD IS BEAUTIFUL!”

Katebits then fell off her bar stool and remained on the floor giggling and honking like a goose for five minutes.

Presenting: Maxim Afinogenov, Kate’s Favorite Sabre!

(This post is the last in a series entitled “Kate’s Favorite Sabre Competition” in which I am choosing my 2007/08 favorite Sabre by process of elimination. Each and every Sabre is a hero, but in the end, there can be only one favorite.)



Maxim Afinogenov #61, Kate’s Favorite Sabre

When a person first starts watching hockey, the game can be very confusing.

I am eager for the season to start mostly because I just can’t wait to get better at watching the game. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that, to me, most hockey players look the same on the ice. Oh sure, during the playoffs I trained myself to keep a watchful eye on 23, but truthfully, without the giant number on his back, I couldn’t tell Chris Drury from Sabretooth. (Well okay, that might be an exaggeration. But you see my point.) For me, hockey is just a whirlwind of speed, athleticism, and momentum. When I watch hockey, I’m not watching individual plays and players, I’m watching the overall motion of the game. I’ve learned not to dwell too much on the technical particulars of the game because I am plenty entertained by my broad view, but still, I can’t wait to get more comfortable with the rhythm of hockey.

Max’ distinctive style helps me feel like I am more than just an awed and bewildered spectator. Max gives me something very specific to appreciate. I love how fast he is. I am charmed by how he often looks jerky and out of control while pulling off amazing feats of skill. I adore how he can make opposing players look slow and stupid. I literally giggle with glee when he manages to evade every line of defense on his way to the net. His style is unique, but it is also obvious and accessible. Even I can identify Maxim Afinogenov on the ice, and I love him for being so recognizable. I remember turning to my friend Robin during the Eastern Conference Finals and squawking, “He’s like some sort of wizard!”

I know that there is something a little anti-climactic about choosing Max as my Favorite Sabre. As I worked my way through the Sabres’ roster, and my criteria for “Favorite” began to get clearer, I realized that I want to be honest about where I am as a hockey fan. I’ve had a lot of fun assigning pretend personalities to these guys, but in the end I want a Favorite who appeals to me as a player. Once I started thinking about it like that, the choice was very easy. Maxim Afinogenov is my Favorite Sabre……by a lot.

I’m not sure how long this title will stick to Max. I suspect that my sheer enthusiasm for hockey will be a very effective teacher this winter, and that it won’t be long before I’m able to identify the differing skating styles of many Sabres. Favorite Sabres will come and go, and I doubt Max will be the exception. I’m certain that someday I’ll have a more subtle Favorite, but for now, I’m relishing my role as “New Fan” by unabashedly loving the fastest, flashiest player on the ice.

Maxim Afinogenov is my Favorite Sabre because he was the first player who made me say, “Wow. Look at that guy.”

(I first saw this video over at BfloBlog, and I’ve watched it many, many times; it was made by a BfloBlog contributor named Andrew. You can see more of Andrew’s videos here.)

And then there’s this. Honestly, what’s not to love?

(Thanks again to IPB for pointing out this remarkable resemblance. I think his likeness to Faye Dunaway might have solidified my love for Max.)


(This post is a part of a series entitled “Kate’s Favorite Sabre Competition” in which I am choosing my 2007/08 favorite Sabre by process of elimination. Each and every Sabre is a hero, but in the end, there can be only one favorite.)


Alright guy, this is the last cut before the big reveal!

Ryan Miller #30

Katebits: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Ryan.

Ryan Miller: It’s my pleasure, Katebits. Thanks for having me.

KB: I imagine you are gearing up for the season now. Did you have a relaxing summer?

RM: I did and I didn’t. The early summer is a time to unwind and to relax, but after a few weeks you have to get right back into training. The summer can’t just be about hanging out and having fun, you also have to work hard so you’re ready to go when training camp starts.

KB: So, what do you do in East Lansing to relax?

RM: Well, I love nature photography, so I spend a lot of time taking pictures. I just want to be the best photographer I can be. I also have a band. We just play for fun, it’s nothing serious, but I think it’s a really great way to be creative. I am a very creative person. I need outlets for self expression.

KB: You are also involved with fashion, aren’t you?

RM: Yes. A few years ago a buddy and I got together to start a high end clothing boutique in East Lansing. Someday we’d like to expand into all of the Big Ten cities. It’s called Ryan Miller’s Big Ten House of Awesome Fashion. Everyone feels better when they look good. I’m just trying to do my part to help others look their best.

KB: In preparation for this interview, I actually went to Ryan Miller’s Big Ten House of Awesome Fashion. It was pretty cool.

RM: I feel it’s important to stay current with fashion.

Katebits: Well, some people are better than others at staying current. I’ve pretty much given up! (laughing) It’s those skinny jeans! I hate them.

RM: Why?

Katebits: Well, I just don’t look good in skinny jeans.

RM: Skinny people look good in skinny jeans.




KB: So, your brother won the Stanley Cup this year. How was it having the Cup in East Lansing?

RM: Well, obviously I am very proud of Drew. It was exciting to see the Cup, and it was a powerful motivator to start the season in the right frame of mind. We all have the same goal, winning the Stanley Cup. I just want to be focused on the goal. Right now, I’m at a stage in my life where I can focus one hundred percent on my goaltending and I intend to take advantage of this time.

KB: Does that mean you don’t have a girlfriend? I’m sure there are lots of women in Buffalo who are curious!

RM: (glaring) I just want to be the best professional goaltender I can be.

KB: Um, okay. (pause as Katebits nervously shuffles through her interview index cards) Um, how is your approach to this season different than last season?

RM: Well, last year we were the favorites. This year, a lot of people have been counting us out. I am eager to step up into a leadership role, and I look forward to proving our doubters wrong.

KB: A lot of people say you will be the unofficial captain of the Sabres this year. What’s your response to that?

RM: Well, goalies can’t be captains.

KB: Do you think that’s fair? If the goalie is the most qualified player for the job, shouldn’t he be the captain?

RM: (gritting teeth) I am sure that whoever Lindy chooses will be an excellent captain.

KB: (eying Ryan Miller meaningfully) Yes, but the “C” is an important letter.

RM: (stroking chest) I agree, the “C” is extremely important.

KB: (slowly) Who do you think….will be wearing the “C” this season?

RM: (glancing nervously around before looking Katebits straight in the eye) I believe the “C” is already in place.

KB: (eying Ryan Miller’s chest as he strokes it slowly) Who….is wearing the “C”?

(eyes locked)

RM: Is this off the record?

KB: (immediately shuts off tape recorder) Absolutly.

(Ryan Miller stands up and removes his plaid jacket and his polka-dot hoodie, revealing an undershirt with a “C” sew onto the chest.)

KB: (gasping) You’ve got the “C”?

RM: It’s a Secret “C”, but yes, I’ve got it. My mom sewed it on for me.

KB: (breathlessly) Awesome. Totally awesome.

RM: I know.

KB: So, is Lindy going to assign an official captain?

RM: Well, he might have to. For appearance. But I’m the Secret Captain.

KB: That’s. So. Rad.

RM: I know.

KB: (with awe) Listen, I’m a huge fan. I hope you have a great season.

RM: (intensely) Thanks. I will. I will have a great season.

KB: (quietly, almost whispering) Let’s go Buffalo.

RM: (nodding slowly) Fuck yeah.

(fist bump)



Stay tuned Dear Readers! Tomorrow (or possibly Sunday or Monday) is the big day! I’m just going to pretend that you can’t deduce who my Favorite Sabre will be on your own. I was going to post the winning Sabre’s profile along with this one, but I decided that Ryan Miller deserved his very own entry. I don’t want you to be distracted from Crunchy’s awesomeness. (And frankly, this post took me much longer to write than I had intended. I’m tired.) If you are a super genuis and you somehow figure out who will be KFS, don’t tell! Let’s save the surprise for all the dullards!

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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