Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Letter With Photographic Evidence

Dear Eric Staal,

I've said it before, but I'll say it again:


You look like serial killer. Seriously, get that scythe meat hook stick the hell away from my throat, before you get a face full of mace.

Stay back, I'm not kidding,

P.S. Enjoy your new car, psychopath. Please drive it to the other Conference. Thanks.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


(I was going to tack this on to the end of the last post, but I think it warrants its own. Excuse the self-indulgence.)

The other day I learned something terribly exciting while wandering (backwards) through the Berlin Jewish Museum. According to a formaldehyde-filled fish display, "Hecht" is the German word for "pike." This helps explain the call I got at around 3:00 this morning, during the second intermission in Toronto.

*Ring*Ring Ring*

Gambler: Hello?

Yo-Yo: Where are you?

Gambler: I told you not to call me in Germany. It's expensive.

Yo-Yo: You're in Germany? It's game day. We've been waiting for you since puck-drop.

Gambler: I've got all this German to learn, and--

Yo-Yo: Oh. (shouts) She's not coming!

Goose: (in the background) Oh come on!

Pommerdoodle: (in the background) It's game day!

Yo-Yo: Real good, Gambler. Real good! I was scoring this morning. I was scoring this morning. (hangs up)

*Dial tone*

What have I done?!?!


Well, if that 10-1 win over Atlanta was indeed a springboard, I want to know who's smart idea it was to put the springboard next to a cliff. Seriously, Sabres, the Leafs? The Leafs?! They're, like, the one team in the Conference who's more effed up than we are. Who are you going to lose to next? The Coyotes? (Please, please, please, don't answer that.) I can't talk about this game, obviously, but I really feel like blogging today, so let's move on to something else.

Brian Campbell. Panic has been widespread ever since Soupy announced he was cutting off contract negotiations with the Sabres until the end of the season. We've got some serious PTSD issues in this city, not like that's anything new, and they're showing early this year, as the flip-outs have started before anyone's actually gone anywhere. Personally, the argument that Soupy's worth top dollar, because that's what the Red Wings are paying Rafalski, or that's what the Leafs are paying McCabe, does little to sway me. (Seriously, let's emulate Toronto's business decisions. That seems like a good idea.) My opinions about the player aside (suffice to say they've taken a dramatic nosedive in the last couple of months), it seems pretty clear to me that this contract isn't a question of market value, it's a question of budget. In respect to the rest of the league, is $6 mil too much for a defenseman of Soupy's caliber? No. In respect to the amount of money the Sabres have already tied up in other players, or will need to tie up in other players sometime in the near future, is it too much? In my opinion, yes. Contrary to popular belief, the cap isn't going to keep rising every season for the next ten years (if it does, we're in deep trouble), and even so, you can bet that B. Tom and co. aren't going to stretch the Sabres' individual budget much more. So there's a reckoning going on in the Sabres front office right now. Who do we keep? Of course Ryan Miller is the name that comes up first and most often when this discussion gets started, but there's another name that I think, while maybe not as important, deserves mentioning.

Jason Pominville. The great number of #29 jerseys I saw at the Ice Bowl (most of them, shockingly, on men) would suggest otherwise, but I think Pommerdoodle sometimes gets taken for granted by fans. He certainly took a verbal bashing this summer, when everyone was convinced that without Briere he would turn into a pile of puke. On a roster full of expensive disappointments (Vanek) and perpetually injured let-downs (Connolly), Pommers hasn't been getting a lot of credit for quietly and consistently meeting expectations. It may or may not shock you to learn that he currently leads the team in points. I know it surprised me. Sure, the population of Pominville seems to have suffered some crazy murder/suicide rates (But, really, can you blame them? Soupy might not re-sign! Who could live at a time like this?), but he's leading all forwards in assists, and is only two away from tying the overall leader, Campbell. Maybe he has suffered a little without Briere, but instead of turning into a pile of puke, he's adapted his game, and that's always a sign of a valuable player. Outside of his offensive stats, he's one of our best two-way forwards, I would say only behind Hecht, a quality which always goes undernoticed and undervalued. He's also somewhat of an Ironmanboy, as my mom would say. As far as I can tell, though I'm not the world's best researcher, he's only missed a total of 13 games due to injury in his whole pro hockey career, all in the AHL. Not bad for a kid who's only 6'0" and 186 lbs. Add on top of everything the fact that Lindy clearly respects and appreciates him, and that he's found a linemate with whom he shares great chemistry (Yo-Yo + Pommers = BFFLTDDUP!), and you've got yourself a player definitely worth keeping around. Now, is he a player worth breaking your bank on? Maybe not, but he's certainly not a player who should be kicked aside so you can break your bank on a guy like Campbell. At least in my opinion.

How could you possibly kick that face aside? Poor puppy.

Maybe I've just been spending too much time listening to my mom, but I've had serious warm and fuzzy feelings about Pommer recently.

Good boy, Pommerdoodle! Now stop drooling on the ice.

While I'm here, I may as well mention this list of the ten worst suggestions someone could possibly make to the NHL. The whole thing is worth a click and a laugh, but here are two highlights:

10. One referee only. Admit it, it was more fun when these guys got away with murder ''behind the play''.

Yeah, the NHL is already the worst and least-consistently officiated pro sports league in the world, why not make a full joke out of it? Ugh.

4. European quotas. OK, guilty, report me to the Xenophobia Hotline. All I know is, other than prime European talent, North American crowds more easily identify with homeboys rather than the vast faceless talents from Russia, Finland, Sweden, et al. On a nightly roster of 18 skaters and two goalies, mandate that a total of 17 must be North American-born. Overall talent level will drop, but that only will open up the game. Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull skated around a lot of tomato cans, and it was great entertainment.

Worst idea in the history of ideas. Any Buffalo fan will tell you that less Max Afinogenov and more Andrew Peters is exactly what this league needs to inspire more interest. Not! Really, I can't even come up with words for how dumb this suggestion is. Out of curiosity, though, if this rule went into effect tomorrow, which three Europeans do you think the Sabres would keep? I'd say keep Vanek, Tallinder and Hecht, though they'd probably keep Vanek, Tallinder, and Afinogenov, or Vanek, Tallinder, and Spacek. (Sorry, Yo-Yo! That's why it's the worst idea in the history of ideas!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Blatantly Threatening Letter

Dear Sabres,

I'm going to kill you until you die to death.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Blog Break to Come...?

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Newark airport, waiting to board my flight to Berlin. I won’t be back in the States for six months. Wow.

I read my study abroad booklet from cover to cover, but there was not one bit of information in there on how best to keep up with one’s favorite hockey team while in Europe (go figure), so I may have just seen my last Sabres game for a long time. How sad! I expect that will put somewhat of a limit on how well I’ll be able to blog about them, but I’ll do my best to find something to write about. I’ll certainly be thinking about the team. Also, I’m not at all sure what sort of internet I’ll have access to in Germany, so if the updates aren’t forthcoming please be aware that it’s not because I don't love you, it’s just because Germany doesn’t love the internet.

For anyone who’s interested, I’ve started a travel blog to document my German/Austrain journey through pictures and writing. You can check that out over here: Brooke’s Semester Ablog (Yes, I attached my real-life name to it. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!) There's not much to it right now, but that's sure to change.

As we were saying goodbye, my brother asked me to bring some Vanek with me when I come back. I said I’ll see what I can do. Anyone have any other requests?

Now that all the organizational things are out of the way, I’ll say farewell and “Have a nice trip!” (I mean, yeah, thanks, I will!) with a couple of last words about the Ice Bowl:

There has been some talk circling the blogosphere about poor fan conduct, particularly from the Sabres fans, and while I’m sure there were a few drunken yahoos, I thought it was worth mentioning that I saw exactly zero disturbances throughout the entire game and pregame. I took part in some good-natured ribbing with Pens fans while tailgate hopping, booing various people who walked by in the (really awesome-looking) powder blue or gold and black sweaters. But every single one of those people turned to me and booed right back, and then we smiled and laughed and shared an unspoken, “Isn’t this fantastic? Can you believe we’re here?” After the game, a Sabres fan stood in the causeway with his two small children, sharing high fives and “Good game!”s with the passing Pittsburgh fans, and as we were all pushing out of the arena, squishing up against each other, the Crosby besweatered guy next to me assured me he was keeping his arms down, so if I got elbowed, it wasn’t from him. The Buffalo fan on my other side remarked that it was somewhat ironic that we were all having to walk like penguins in order to get out of the building. And that’s as much fan interaction as I saw. I’m sorry that some people’s experience was ruined or soured by a few assholes, but I felt just as it was a great day to be a Buffalonian, it was a great day to be a hockey fan, no matter who you cheer for.

All in all it was an experience I’ll never forget, and even though we lost, I’m not going to worry about it. We played well, and truth be told I thought the Penguins were a little more than lucky to get the W. But that’s just how the game goes sometimes and I’m just going to accept it in this case. Even if we end up missing the playoffs by one point (knock on wood), I’ll find some other shootout loss to complain about. This game was pure.

My sister risked finger amputation to take some photos at the game, and I want to share some of her choicest shots:

This was the view from out seats. They were fantastic.

Our new captain, looking like a ventriloquist's dummy. Not that anyone could duplicate that voice.

Meghan's facebook caption of this photo is gold.
Derek Roy: "Oh no, I think one of my purple sequins fell off my helmet and into my EYE..... AHHHH.... Time out! Call a time out Lindy, before I lose my sight and my keen sense of arranging jewels in a artistic fashion!"

Meghan was at a loss as to who this guy is, but I'm going to go on record with Connolly. I can see that bitchface lurking beneath all that pixelation.

Not an empty seat, and everyone on their feet. Just as it should be.

What a way to say goodbye to Buffalo.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

21 Things I Learned From The Ice Bowl

  1. Sidney Crosby has some sort of witchcraft. I'm convinced that if you watch the replay on that shootout goal, you will see there are actually two pucks: one which Miller traps successfully between his pads, the other which Crosby produces out of thin air and tosses into the net. (Note: This witchcraft could also manifest itself in the instance of a large sum of money magically appearing in Miller's bank account, which then compels him to leave his five hole gaping wide open to the league's darling. The hussy.)
  2. After a little while, I didn't care one whit about the loss, or the craptastic (and suspicious) shootout goal that brought it about. I was just glad to have been a part of the day.
  3. A football field is much smaller in person than it is on TV. On TV those 100 yards seem like an interminable expanse of green, which no man should be able to cross without the aid of at least one camel, but inside the stadium it seems like I could spit from one endzone to the other without even straining my neck. If the TV cameras add ten pounds, they must also add ten miles, because there's no other explanation for this phenomenon.
  4. Donuts and beer is a perfectly acceptable breakfast when sporting events are involved.
  5. There is a far greater number of grown men who feel comfortable wearing a Jason Pominville jersey in public than I would have ever thought possible. Seriously, they didn't even seem embarrassed about it!
  6. Pittsburgh fans aren't so big on the creativity in their jersey selections, as almost every Pens jersey I saw was a guaranteed Crosby or Lemieux. Not that I blame them, really, since I imagine it's hard to resist the allure of a Crosby jersey for a player who's just not at as talented. But it really made me appreciate the diversity that the Sabres fans showed (and seem to show on a regular basis at games) in their jerseys. There were a lot of Millers, Vaneks, and Campbells, but also some Tallinders, Lydmans, and Gaustads, with plenty of old school names--Ray, LaFontaine, Perrault, Ruff--thrown in. I think the highlight was a Russian National Team sweater with Afinogenov spelled in Cyrillic on the back.
  7. Yo-Yo's stock has gone way up with the fans. I saw at least ten Hecht jerseys today, most of them with a C attached, which indicates a recent purchase. On the one hand I felt so happy because it means his hard work is getting recognized by people other than me and the people I talk to incessantly about him, but on the other hand it made me long desperately for the sweater that is currently trying to make its way to me through the bowels of the US Postal Service. I was very comforted by the fact that all the Hecht jerseys I saw were of either the Slug or Winter Classic variety. No clones of my blue throwback in sight! Yes!
  8. I can't stay mad at Yo-Yo. Even when he flubs a perfect chance to put the game away in OT by shooting at the goaltender and I declare that we are not speaking anymore, I don't really mean it.
  9. Booing, even when it's a face-to-face activity with other fans, is totally fun.
  10. Not enough people are aware that chanting "Go Buffalo Go" or "Go Sabres Go" or even "Let's Go Sabres" is not a good idea. People, you have the best chant known to man ("Let's Go Buff-a-lo!") at your disposal. Use it!
  11. Posterboard + wet snow = soggy, useless sign, and no TV fame for Gambler, Meghan, or Dave.
  12. I'm unnaturally fascinated by zambonis, and can watch them circle the ice for a very long time during any and all stoppages in play, without getting bored or realizing that I'm being unnecessarily forced to watch zambonis circling the ice during any and all stoppages in play.
  13. It's perfectly acceptable to waste people's time zamboni-ing the ice at any and all stoppages in play, but the moment smooth ice would be really useful (ie the shootout) it's deemed unnecessary.
  14. Campbell-Spacek is not our top defensive pairing.
  15. Also, Soupy is totally getting on my nerves, and I kind of wish he'd just go away.
  16. I have a hopeless crush on Nathan Paetsch, and whenever he does anything resembling something a normal defenseman would do (ie not sitting on his goalie's head), I'm filled with glee.
  17. Patches is not unlike a Shetland Pony.
  18. The running joke about Roy the sparkly Bedazzler never gets old, at least not with my sister involved.
  19. Lindy Ruff does not prioritize health and safety above style, unless that sharp Sabres varsity jacket was lined with blubber. (Also, I want!)
  20. Katebits can read my mind.
  21. Buffalo is AWESOME, and I will really miss it when I go.

Look For It

If anyone's looking for a Gambler fix tomorrow, this is the sign Meghan and I are bringing to the Ice Bowl, so keep an eye out for it. I feel a bit like a sell-out going the NBC route, but I figure it's the best bet to get on TV, and this sign was made to be seen, baby! Most of the credit for the construction goes to Meghan, since she slaved away, channeling her inner Derek Roy and covering the whole thing in sparkles, while I felt the alluring pull of the internet this afternoon. But I did come up with the original idea, so I figure it's a fair trade-off. (For the slow, or unfamiliar with the Sabres, the names all around are all the guys who play wing on the team. [Except Peters, who doesn't play anything.] Me so clever!) The "Hi Dave" in the corner is a shoutout to our cousin's husband, who worked tirelessly with us this weekend while we tried to create the perfect sign. Thanks, Dave! You're not too bad. You know, for a Habs fan.

I am so exorbitantly excited for this event! As if you couldn't tell, seeing as I'm still up at 3 am on New Year's Day without any alcohol involved. But I better go and try to get some sleep. I'll leave you with this picture of Pommerdoodle trying to navigate his way out of his balaclava, which is sure to bring me hilarious dreams:

If I don't get to see this in person tomorrow, I will be severely disappointed.

Happy New Year, everyone! And for those of you joining me at the game, keep warm out there! (For those of you watching from home, I don't want to hear about how warm and toasty you were if the game sucks. I'm looking at you, Mom and Dad!)