Archive for the 'Nonsense' Category

Yearbook Photos: A Retrospective

The Journey Begins:

I think we can all agree that there is something terribly wrong with the Sabres.

The problem is, no one is quite sure what is wrong with the Sabres.   Is it the top six?  Is it the defense?  Is it Lindy?  Are they just not that good?  Were they all concussed over the summer in some kind of unreported team bus crash?  Are they coach killing?  Is Tyler Myers high?  Were Toni Lydman and Hank Tallinder the straws that stirred the drink (no way)?  Is Craig Rivet a robot?  Are they afraid of being booed, and THAT’S why they can’t win at home?  Have Thomas Vanek’s low self-esteem issues given him an eating disorder?  Will I ever bother to learn how to spell Neidermayerierniderer or Mmoorriissoonn?

WHY are they so bad?  WHY?

We go around and round.

All I know is I need to step back from this surface-y examination of the first ten games of the new season.  I need to dig in deeper.  I need to look at the history of each member of “the core”.  I need to understand how we got here, so that at the very least, we might have some hope of saving the younger players.  I need to do what I’ve always done when the Sabres are leaving me feeling lost and confused.

I need to look at their roster photos.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I believe strongly that many secrets of a team can be revealed by careful examination of their roster photos.  The situation in Buffalo is complex, and there are no easy answers, so in order to get to the bottom of what ails the Sabres, I believe we have to acknowledge the personal journey of each individual player.

Today is the first post in what will hopefully be a series of posts.  We cannot afford to pretend that there isn’t a problem in “the system”.  Something is going terribly wrong with these players, and it is our obligation to find it, and fix it so that so future Sabres do not have to suffer.  The process is bound to be painful, but it is our duty as Sabres fans to see this through.

Today we investigate Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.

Lets begin.

Derek Roy








There is so much lost innocence and turmoil evident in Roy-Z’s early roster photos.  Heartbreaking.  He was clearly at a crossroads in 2005, and sadly, he took the path which lead to the Roy-Z we know and (kind of) love today.  To my great shock, in 2005 Derek Roy was Montador-esque in appearance.  Plain, nearly disheveled, in 2005 Roy-Z was a young man on his way to the top.  But then, in 2006, came the haircut that would rock the Buffalo hockey world.  Granted, 2006/07 was a good season for the team and for Roy-Z himself, but he was skating on borrowed time.  Let this be a lesson to the young people who read this blog: One ill-advised haircut can ruin your life.  By 2007 Derek Roy’s fate was sealed.  By the fall of ’07, Roy-Z had sunk so low that he clearly believed a carefully constructed fauxhawk could replace the leadership of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.  As we all know now, Roy-Z was wrong about his fauxhawk.  He was so dreadfully wrong.












Unable to recover from the fauxhawk, the roster photos show that Roy-Z descended deeper and deeper into skeeviness.  While Roy-Z can continue to play hockey at high levels, there is no known cure for his increasingly greasy hair.

Analysis:  Based on Roy-Z’s roster photos, we can deduce that he was not given the guidance he so desperately needed at the start of his young career.  As a result of being overlooked by authority figures, Roy-Z was susceptible to all manner of peer-pressure, the worst of which resulted in a devastating fauxhawk.  To prevent this type of calamity in the future, young Sabres should not be allowed to own or use hair products.  Also, for the good of the innocent rookies, further research must be done to determine if the greasy fauxhawk is contagious.

Drew Stafford

















It does not take a genius to see what happened to Staffy.  At some point in his childhood, he was bitten by a zombie.  By 2007 his zombie-ism was full blown, and his skin was astonishingly pale.  In 2008 in a sad effort to hide his zombie-ism Staffy attempted to smile in his roster photo, but the results were…disturbing.  By 2009, Staffy’s obvious undeadness could no longer be denied.  Thankfully, in 2010, with the help of zombie experts, Staffy’s condition is being controlled, and there is reason to believe he can one day be a useful member of society the Sabres again. *fingers crossed*

Analysis: In the future, the Sabres should consider asking all potential draftees “Are you a zombie?”  If the answer is “yes,” the Sabres should think long and hard before drafting this player.  On paper, zombies seem like they should be good at hockey, but in reality this is not always the case.


Stay tuned for future installments of this vitally important study.  We here at the Willful Caboose Research Labs promise that we will not give up until every Sabres is cured, and the team returns to respectability.

The Sound of Sucking

I just realized something!

If this season the Sabres are the Sound of Music, then this is the part of the story where Maria is still annoying everyone in the abby and being a total failure as a nun.

Darcy hasn’t even kicked the Sabres out of the abby yet.  The Sabres are still up in the Alps twirling around and singing about how the rinks are alive with the sound of sucking, totally oblivious to the adventures they have ahead.  This season may seem like it’s going to be about a bunch of annoying abby politics annoying System meltdowns, but we haven’t even got to the part where Maria sews the Sabres new play-clothes and teaches them how to sing.  If nothing else, we have Craig Rivet wearing lederhosen made out of floral curtains to look forward to this season.

The 2010/11 Sabres Season Motto:  When in doubt (which, as it turns out, might be every minute of every game), consult The Sound of Music.

Heather and Katebits Figure It All Out

Last night Heather B. and I had a long convoluted conversation on twitter.  If you follow both of us, and you happened to be lurking quietly on twitter at about 12:30am, you probably saw the entire conversation unfold.  If that’s case, I apologize for subjecting you to this nonsense for a second time.  But the rest of you HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS, because Heather and I are GENIUSES.

Alright. I guess it all started when Mike Harrington sent me a link to his Sabres Edge post which contains this video:

Hearing Thomas Vanek speaking German was a revelation for me.  How have I never fully realized that Vanek is AUSTRIAN?!   He’s AUSTRIAN, you guys!  That explains EVERYTHING.   Of course I knew before last night that Vanek is Austrian, but something about seeing him sternly lecturing those little school children in a language I don’t understand really drove the point home.  You can take the boy out of Austria, but you can’t take the Austria out of the boy.  Vanek came to North America when he was 14, and he eventually became a Golden Gopher.  I think I’ve been thinking about him as a Minnesotan all this time.


When you’re suddenly all, “Ooooh, riiiight.  He’s AUSTRIAN,” about a dude, naturally, the first thing you’re going to do is ask yourself, “Is Vanek, in fact, exactly like Captain Von Trapp?”

Let’s go to the video….


Vanek IS exactly like Captain Von Trapp!

I’ll admit, Vanek is not as nearly as handsome as Captain Von Trapp, and as much as I wish it were otherwise, his singing voice is atrocious, but you’ve GOT to admit that there are plenty of other similarities.   He’s a reluctant leader, he’s grouchy for no apparent reason, he HATES singing, he’s completely humorless, and while I don’t know this to be true, it seems VERY likely that Vanek calls his children with a dog whistle.

Heather suggested that maybe Vanek is so grouchy because Pommers and Roy-Z don’t respond to the whistle properly, which led to us comparing all the Sabres to characters in “The Sound of Music”.  (Heather hilariously suggested that Roy-Z is Liesl.  [He thinks he knows everything now that he’s sixteen.])   We quickly deduced that perhaps the biggest problem with the Sabres is that they have no obvious Maria.  How can a hockey team find love, win the Stanley Cup, become a musical sensation, and escape from the Nazis if they have no Maria?!

Mike Grier seems to us to be the closest thing we’ve got to a Maria…..which is hilarious when you think about it.  Ryan Miller also briefly played the role of Maria when we started imagining Goose, Tyler Myers and Butts wearing wimples and singing, “How do you Solve a Problem Like Crunchy?”

So, there we were, casting all the Sabres in “The Sound Of Music,” when Heather had the funniest idea in the history of EVER.  The Sabres goal song should be “Climb Every Mountain.”   I KNOW.  SHE’S A GENIUS.

I urge you to press play on this video so you can remember for yourself HOW MUCH THIS SONG KICKS ASS.   The goal celebration music should start at the 1:44 mark.

I’m sure you will agree that “Climb Every Mountain” is THE BEST GOAL SONG EVER. It’s rousing, it’s inspirational, it’s soaring, and it’s sung by a WARBLING NUN!   WHAT COULD BE BETTER?!

In addition to being hilarious and TOTALLY AWESOME, “Climb Every Mountain” would be EXCELLENT for annoying Roy-Z and Timmeh.   I feel like 9 and 19 really think they’re too cool for school, and the best thing for them would be to have to celebrate goals to the sound of a nun belting out an inspirational melody about perseverance.



The Sabres are back tonight!  If all goes well, maybe this is the year the Sabres actually WILL climb every mountain.  Happy Hockey, Dear Readers!

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!



Keep Your Eye On the Prize!

I suppose if I were a good fan and person I would more grateful for these preseason games.  Theoretically, some hockey (even if it’s preseason hockey) should be better than no hockey, right?  WRONG.  Well, okay….yes.  Preseason hockey is better than, say, the dark days of mid-August when there is no hockey ANYWHERE in sight, and you start to worry that you’re forgetting what hockey looks like, and when you go to the closet to run your hands lightly over all of the Sabres hoodies that you never wear (too hot) you panic because they don’t even smell like the arena anymore, and deep in your heart you’re terribly afraid that hockey is never coming back and you’ll have to adjust and relearn how to be happy.  Preseason hockey is better than that.

But being better than mid-August is like being better than a fridge full of Diet Pepsi (when all you want is a Diet Coke).  Not that hard.

You may recall that last year around this time I showed you this video of adorable children being tortured with marshmallows.

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The children are given a marshmallow, and told that they can eat it right away, OR, if they can hold off on eating it for five minutes that they can have another one.   Then they’re left alone in a room with only the marshmallow and filmed for our amusement.

I’m not sure why, but this year I feel like I’m one of the kids in this video, and the preseason is the marshmallow.  I desperately want to eat the marshmallow, but I can’t do it because I want the regular season even more. (I guess for the purpose of this analogy [which really doesn’t add up, but whatever] the regular season would be represented by, like, a thousand marshmallows.)

What I’m trying to say is, the preseason is delicious, and believe me, I want to eat it (wait…what?) but I’m going to keep my steely gaze on October 8th.

I want the good stuff.  And now I also want some marshmallows and a Diet Coke.

What’s This Thing?

The Old Reach Around

I love it when the NHL reminds me of Arrested Development.

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The gesture that Gob makes when he says “reach around” is super funny to me.

It appears that Gary Bettman has grown tired of slippery GMs signing players to these ridiculous contracts.  He’s not going to take it anymore!

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Take THAT, Lou Lamoriello!


So, a couple of hiLARious things happened yesterday:

1. The Devils held a press conference to announce Kovalchuk’s only-sliiiightly-more-ridiculous-than-all-the-other-cap-circumventing-contracts-that-came-before contract.

2. At that press conference Lou Lamoriello basically stuck his tongue out at the league and said, “Na-na-na-na-boo-boo!  You can’t catch me!”  Which is both obnoxious and delightful.

3. The league rejected Kovalchuk’s eleventy-million year contract AFTER the Devil’s press conference.  Which is both petty and amusing.

The whole thing has left me feeling both VERY amused and VERY disgusted.

Amused because, well let’s face it, the situation is funny from almost every angle.  The Devils (and every other team that can attract these types of free agents, and afford their contracts) made a BIG show yesterday out of signing a player to a contact WHILE fully admitting that the contract is a farce.  That’s funny.  The league is behaving like a fed-up babysitter.  After years of letting his babysitting charges get away with murder, Gary Bettman is suddenly yelling in harsh tones, and trying to be all authority-figure-y.  That’s funny too, because like everyone knows who has ever been babysat, the babysitter has no real authority.

I don’t care at all what happens next.  As a fan of a small market team that could never attract this type of player on the free agency market, these long years/low cap hit contracts get on my nerves.   So, I don’t really care when or how fairly the line is drawn, I just want these contracts to stop.  On the other hand, I love how Lou Lameriello basically signed Kovalchuk to a cap-circumventing contract, while simultaneously trying to ensure that no other team will be able to sign a player to one of these contracts again. That takes moxie, and I like moxie.

At this point, the whole thing is a win-win.  As the late great George Carlin once said (I’m paraphrasing something I heard him say on the Tonight Show), “When you’re born, and you get a ticket to the freak show, my advice is to just sit back and enjoy.”  That’s true about life, and it’s true about the NHL.

The Fun Spot

I’m still not in the mood to think about the Sabres (Welcome to Buffalo, Tallinder the 2nd Jordan Leopold!), and I’m scared that if I turn on the television I’ll accidentally get sucked into the Hotdog Eating Contest, so here’s a funny story from Apple Hill.


On the day after music camp ended, a little crew of us (Mike, Jesse, Elise, Ealain, and myself) hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to The Fun Spot.  Now, ordinarily driving many miles to the world’s biggest arcade/video game museum on a beautiful day with my oldest and dearest friends would be pure delight, but on this day….well.

As Jesse would later say of the day, “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”

First, a bit about The Fun Spot.  It’s bonkers.  The Fun Spot is a three-story warehouse full of every arcade video game ever made (possibly literally), plus skee-ball, whack-a-mole, and all the other games where you get tickets and then turn them in for small prizes.   The Fun Spot is awesome because if there was a video game that you used to love playing at the roller rink in 1983, it will be there.  You can find it, and play it, and be magically returned to a different era of your life.  Jesse, Mike and I spent HOURS (and hundreds of dollars) playing Star Trek the Next Generation pinball in college, and IT WAS THERE, at The Fun Spot.  Star Trek pinball!  Just looking at the machine made me feel like a junior in college again, and when I heard the sounds of the game I was absolutely transported back to the Oberlin game room, circa 1996. (In college though, our Star Trek game had a broken tilt mechanism.  This was part of its appeal.  If you were strong enough you could literally hoist the machine into the air to avoid having your ball go down the drain.  Star Trek pinball is why I had huge bruises on my hips [from slamming the machine] for all of 1996.  Sadly, at The Fun Spot the tilt worked, and we weren’t allowed to abuse the machine.)

So, The Fun Spot definitely has its fine qualities.  And let me tell you, we LAUGHED our asses off that day.  We laughed until we couldn’t breath.  Repeatedly.  At one point in the car, Jesse was laughing so hard he pulled the car over to the side of the road so that he wouldn’t crash.  (For my BPO friends- I was telling the story of The “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn” at the time. Heh.)  We laughed until our sides ached and we begged each other to “PLEASE STOP BEING FUNNY, OR I’LL DIE”.  I love those people so much, and it was such a treat to hang out with them all day.  If you ever get the chance to hit the Fun Spot with your BFFs, I highly recommend that you take it.

But there IS bad news about the Fun Spot.  First of all, with all those people playing video games at once, it’s loud.  Like, REAL loud.  Second of all, it’s hot.  Like, ewwww hot.  And smelly.  And THIRD of all, every surface in that building feels grimy.  I have never felt so unclean as I felt in the Fun Spot.  I figure you have at LEAST a 50% chance of catching hepatitis at the Fun Spot.  After every game I played, I felt the strong urge to douse myself in Purell, but I didn’t have any Purell, so I made repeated trips to the scuzzy bathrooms to wash my hands.  The bathroom was its own nightmare of uncleanliness.

Added to the general yuckiness of the Fun Spot was my own personal predicament.  You see, I was more than a little hung over that day.  It wasn’t a DefCon 5 hangover, but it was definitely a hangover that should’ve been treated with lots of Gatorade and possibly a “Law and Order” marathon.  BUT, this was no ordinary situation.  I was in full, “Seize the day” mode because I was at summer camp.  When you’re at summer camp you don’t say, “I’m too tired.”  EVER.  When you’re at summer camp you grab the Fun Spot by the horns, and you play video games until you can’t see straight.  You rally.  Because damnit, time is short and soon you’ll have to go back to real life.  There will be plenty of time for fluids and television in Buffalo.  In New Hampshire, you go for the gold.

So, the whole time we were in the Fun Spot sweating, and laughing, and obsessively washing our hands, I was teetering back and forth between feeling reasonably okay and feeling like I wanted to curl up on the floor of the Fun Spot and die.   One second I would be laughing so hard I couldn’t imagine being happier, and the next second I would be limping to the snack bar (the quietest, yet stickiest area of the Fun Spot) to try to manage my hangover with Rolos and Cheez-Its.  (Rolos and Cheez-Its are not ideal hangover food, but you work with what you’ve got.  They did help.)

I could write a thousand years and still never get done telling you about the adventures (and misadventures) we had in the Fun Spot, but instead, I’ll just leave you with this:

FunSpotBootieThis is Jesse displaying the booty we collected with our tickets after playing about $80 worth of Skee-ball.  A plastic hand clapper, a strange thermos thing, and a dolphin ring.

After squeezing all the fun we could out of the Fun Spot, we got in the car for the long ride home.  We were all a little worse for the wear (practically shell-shocked), but I was in particularly bad shape due to my hangover.  It was nearing dinnertime, but since the Fun Spot is kind of in the middle of nowhere we decided it would be best to eat once we got back to home.  So, the scene at this point was rather sorry.  We were all tired, and feeling disgusting, I was hungover and getting increasingly cranky about it, and we were still hours away from eating dinner.

This is when I began whining in earnest.  I’d like to think that my whining was for comedic effect, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not so sure.  The Fun Spot had pushed me to the brink.  I was hungry and tired and jammed in the backseat of a Subaru with two other adults, and when I wasn’t whining pitifully, I was slap happy and near delirious.

And so this is how we began our rambling ride home.  We recounted the adventures we’d had at the Fun Spot.  Laughed over some of them, cried over others, and basically tried to keep each other’s spirits up.  But we were definitely flagging.  There is only so much a human body can take, and the Fun Spot had turned out to be the ultimate test of human stamina.

Just when we thought that the day had taken a turn for the permanently cranky, Elise exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!  I still have half a doughnut!”  Then, from under the seat, she produced a wax paper bag containing half of the doughnut she had purchased that morning.  We all cheered and passed the bag around, each taking one bite of the doughnut.  I cannot tell you how rejuvenating a single bite of a doughnut can be when you are in the post-Fun Spot pit of despair.  In that moment, we were reborn.

But five minutes later we came crashing down.  It turns out one bite of doughnut only provides five minutes of rebirth.  After that you feel worse than you felt before you even HAD that bite of doughnut.

That’s when we had this exchange:

Mike: How are you feeling Kate?

Kate:  BAD.  I feel BAD.  I’m hungry and I feel BAD.  That bite of doughnut only made things worse!

Mike: I know.  Me too.  I bet you feel terrible, what with the hangover and all.


Mike: We might die.

Kate: (sadly, dejectedly, with no hint of hope or joy) I think we will die.

(a long, desperate quiet descends upon the car)

Mike:  But wait…

(Mike begins rummaging around in the center console.  We all eye him warily.  All hope is lost.)

And then, in a voice you would use to say, “But guess what!  We have ONE MORE present,” at a child’s birthday party right before you bring in a pony with a bow tied around his neck, Mike triumphantly held up a wax paper bag.


We were saved!  Mike had been holding out!  He had expertly waited until the car had reached it’s lowest, saddest, most hopeless state, and then HE MAGICALLY PRODUCED ANOTHER LIFE SAVING DOUGHNUT!  My heart filled with joy!  We would not die!  We had another doughnut!

Is there anyone better than Mike?  NO.  There is not!

I’m not sure I will ever have a moment as happy as the moment Mike pulled that doughnut out of thin air.  We ate that doughnut, and this time it WAS enough to get us home.  Mike’s magical doughnut got us all the way back up to Apple Hill.  The day had been a wondrous success.

And we all lived happily every after.

The End.

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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