Archive for the 'Maxim Afinogenov' Category

Max is Special

Now that I know he’s out of our hair, I’ve been feeling a flush of Max Afinogenov appreciation recently, and so it was with some interest that I followed this link to a translated Russian interview.  (Thanks to Vance from Bangin Panger for the link, via his Twitter feed)  The article is interesting, both because Max was famously tight lipped during his time in Buffalo, and because the translation is hiLARious.

Say what you want about him, but Max Afinogenov was a Sabre for ten years. When I first started watching hockey, for a long time he was the only player I could identify by his skating style alone.  Even as much as I loved Drury, nothing about his playing was particularly gripping to me as a new fan.  But Max? Max was electrifying and captivating, so much so that he was my original Favorite Sabre.

I missed Max’s hayday completely, and even in spite of the the funk that he’s been in for the entirety of my fandom, he has been without question, the player most capable of captivating the crowd at the arena.  Even when we hadn’t seen him score a goal in months, a buzz went through the crowd every time Max touched the puck. I’m really going to miss that next year.

I don’t think Max conveys as well on television.  In order to truly appreciate him you need to see the entire ice surface, and you need to have two full teams of players to watch in comparison.  Even when the Sabres sucked the hardest, I was always happy rooting for Max because no matter how bad he was (and he was BAD), he was always interesting.  Rooting for him felt like I was embracing the absurd.  Sure, I knew without QUESTION that he was ultimately going to turn the puck over to the opposition after skating it all over tarnation and before even taking a shot (I don’t think I ever saw Max score live), but damnit, I also knew without question that the Sabres were toast regardless of Max.  If the loss feels inevitable, I want to at least see a flash of pizazz and a blur of flailing limbs.

In the end, at the arena I watched Max almost separately from the game.   There was the game, where I could expect normal hockey plays and the potential for goal scoring, and there was Max, where I could expect NO goal scoring, but instead be treated to some variation of amusing trickery and misplayed tomfoolery.  I’m not sure why I never fully turned on Max, but I think it’s because I always always always found myself delighted by him at HSBC.  To me there is something inherently endearing about Max’s style, particularly live.

I don’t know what happened to Max.  The style of the game stopped favoring his brand of speediness, and obviously his relationship with Lindy deteriorated.  He’s all but useless now, I realize this.  But in spite of all his many and obvious flaws, I’d love to see Max have success in the NHL again.  I wish him nothing but good luck and well wishes, and I’m grateful that I got to see him play as a Sabre.

Good luck, Max!

Let’s Blow This Baby Up

I’m kind of a drama queen when it comes to the Sabres (although oddly, I’m not a drama queen in any other area of my life), so I felt a little bit of vindication when I made my morning blog rounds today.  It seems I’m not the only person who thought that that was THE WORST HOCKEY GAME IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE.  I mean, I’ve seen the Sabres suck plenty of times before, but that game last night was an abomination.  I’m not sure that either team successfully completed a pass all night.  I will forever remember that game as ten guys standing in the middle of the rink kicking the puck around randomly with their skates.  For all I know, they didn’t even USE hockey sticks last night.

But the details about last night are neither here nor there.  The main point is that the Sabres are not a good hockey team.  I’ll admit, I’ve lost ALL patience for waiting around for this particular group of guys to pull it together.  It’s not going to happen.  Drastic steps must be taken.

I’m not ordinarily the type of blogger to play the role of GM.  I don’t feel very confident with my hockey analysis, but this situation has inspired me to go out on a limb and write a serious post about what I would do if I were the GM of the Sabres.  In my opinion, this team needs a major shake-up.

Here are the moves I would make:

Tim Connolly should be retired and sent to a farm to live out his remaining years grazing peacefully.  It’s the most humane solution at this point.

Drew Stafford should be traded for Evgeni Malkin.

Derek Roy‘s talent should be surgically extracted and implanted into Paul Gaustad.  This is a dangerous scheme because there’s a risk that Goose could be infected with some of Roy-Z’s personality as well as his talent (that, of course, would be disastrous/tragic), but I’m sure we can all agree that a Goose/Roy-Z hybrid would be a useful player to have around.  I think it’s worth the risk.  After the talent transferring procedure, the now talentless Derek Roy can become Goose’s personal assistant.  Everyone wins….except Goose, who now has a talentless Derek Roy following him around all the time.

Ryan Miller needs his glass eye removed and replaced with a real eye.  He’s done pretty well with one glass eye, considering, but it’s clear that he needs two good eyes to compete in the NHL.  He might as well get his wonky eyebrow re-cocked while he’s at it.

Jason Pominville needs to be taken off the point on the power play.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman need to be sent out into the deep forest and each be given a match, a single bottle of water, and a penknife.  They have 48 hours to hunt and kill the other.  Whoever comes out alive gets to keep his job.

Thomas Vanek should be paid $7.1 million dollars per year for the next six years.

Clarke MacArthur should be traded to the Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Max Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik should be melted down and then recast as Christmas tree ornaments which the Sabres wives and girlfriends can then sell in the concourse to benefit charity.

Andrew Peters should be waived and Adam Mair should start actively practicing punching people and being punched in return.

Patrick Kaleta should be sent to Portland, and Danny Paille should start actively practicing being really, really annoying.

Nathan Paetsch should be traded for Nicklas Lidstrom.

Craig Rivet should be returned to the San Jose Sharks.  This is a mercy trade made of behalf of Rivet who is probably looking at his old team with extreme longing right about now.  This poor dude was living a perfectly happy life in California a few months ago, and now, through no fault of his own, he’s the CAPTAIN of this train wreck.  Poor dude.  I want to set him free.

Mark Mancari, Nathan Gerbe, and Tim Kennedy should all be given trial jobs with the Sabres, but they should be FORBIDDEN from socializing with any of their elder teammates.  Everyday after practice they should be chauffeured to their grim apartments at the Extended Stay America off the 290, and supervised for the remainer of the day.  If any of them even glances wistfully at Chippewa St, they should be automatically fired/executed.

Teppo Numminen should be compelled to retire so that he may begin some sort of job which involves him standing behind the bench with James Patrick looking foxy in a well tailored suit.

Jaroslav Spacek should call a press conference and then bite the head off the pigeon so that we never have to hear about that dumb thing again.  (This isn’t so much of a personnel move as it is a personal request from me to Jaro.)


So that’s what I would do if I were GM.


Last night, a few of my friends were over during the second period of the Pens game.

While we were watching the game, my friend Dinesh referred to Afinogenov, only he didn’t pronounce his name correctly, he called him, “a-fi-NOG-i-noff”.  The first time he said it I ignored him, thinking that maaaaybe he didn’t know the correct pronunciation.  The second time he said it, I shot him a wary glance.  The third time he said it, I KNEW he was just trying to get my goat, so I purposefully didn’t react.

And the forth time he said it, I could no longer contain myself and I screeched, “AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!  STOP CALLING HIM A-FI-NOG-I-NOFF!”

My goat = gotten.  Dinesh was quite pleased with himself, and rightly so.  I’m generally a fairly mellow person, and Dinesh played his cards just right in order to get me to freak out.

Now that I have gotten past my initial bad reaction, I’m beginning to enjoy the sound of “a-fi-NOG-i-noff.”  Say it outloud a few times.  You might like it too.

The Spy Who Loved Us

I love that the article in the Buffalo News about Maxim Afinogenov becoming a U.S. citizen contained the following excerpt:

Afinogenov, who’s been in Buffalo since 1999, became an American after following the usual road to dual citizenship. He took history tests. He proved he could read and write. He passed the interview process.

“They need to know you’re not a spy,” Afinogenov said with a smile Monday.

I mean, that’s just awesome.  The last thing you’d ever expect a spy to do is to make a joke about being a spy in the local newspaper.  Max is so clever.

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.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Every day that I wake up in the woods of New Hampshire, I scurry through the forest and up to the area of campus with internet access to see if Max is still a Sabre. Afinogenov is, without question, our best bargaining chip and most attractive trade bait. I feel the time to blog about him is now, just in case he’s shipped off by the end of the weekend.

Max is my ex-Favorite Sabre. I chose him as my favorite last summer, and while it was a totally uninformed decision at the time, it was not made without sentimentality. Max Afinogenov, when he is on, is seriously my favorite player in the league. I love how wildly off-kilter he seems, and how nervous he appears to make the other team. At his best, Max is like one of those greased-up pigs everyone is always trying to catch at the County Fair. He’s not graceful, but he’s pretty hard to contain. I also think there is something really fun about having a totally unique player on our team. Max is one of a kind.

Unfortunately, I’m getting a very strong “If you love someone, set him free” vibe from Max right now. It’s no fun when a relationship gets to this point. Everyone is basically content, but no one is too thrilled. Everything is still civil, but things are teetering dangerously towards resentment. Because of the draft, both parties are stealing covert peeks at the attractive alternatives and thinking, “Can I do better?”

This relationship may have run its course. It’s okay. It’s no ones fault. Sometimes these things just happen.

Personally, I think we all have to move on. I don’t particularly like it, but I think trading Max is the best way to snag an extra draft pick, and announce the arrival of the new era of the Sabres. The new Sabres motto? “Stop Constantly Putting Everyone Offside, Or We’ll Trade Your Ass For The Rights To An Unproven Teenager.” Max has been around for a long time, through some good times, but it’s time to turn the page, stop dwelling on potential. It’s time to start embracing reality, and planning for the future. It’s for the best.

Do it, Darcy.

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.

Tuxedo Shorts Are Wrong

One of the unexpected side effects of my new hockey obsession is an increased interest in sports overall. Inspired by the IPB field trip to the U.S. Open, I decided to sit down and watch some tennis this weekend. It was surprisingly fun! Here is what I learned:

1. When asked to choose between a good natured American, and a cranky German, I chose “cranky German”. Interesting.

2. When asked to choose between an underdog wearing a normal outfit, and possibly the best tennis player ever wearing a douchey outfit, I chose “underdog”.

3. When you wish to convince me to like your beloved Federer, emailing me a picture of him happily accepting a cow as a tournament prize is a surprisingly effective tactic.

In other, non-tennis related news, Happy Birthday to both Pookie and Maxim Afinogenov (KFS)! Hoo-ray! Happy Birthday, guys! (This has been a very good week for Max, hasn’t it? First he’s named Kate’s Favorite Sabre, and then it’s his birthday. I hope the guy has a high threshold for exhilarating excitement.)

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.)

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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