Sunday, April 12, 2009

If The Season Ends...

... and you weren't around to see it, did it really happen? Isn't this like a tree falling in the woods kind of a thing?

You'd think, given that rehearsals are weekday evening types of occurrences, that a Saturday afternoon game would be one of those very rare instances when I would get to watch. Well, not when the game coincides with work weekend, when I have to spend all afternoon hanging lights for our impending performance. If there's one thing four years of college education has taught me, it's that the theatre department always gets the upper hand.

To be honest, though, I'm not sure I really would have been grasp the game even if I had been able to watch. It's been months since I saw a full Sabres game (to be fair, only mostly because I haven't been trying: last week's Capitals match-up was cut short by a technical failure). Even though it's finally, finally warming up around this place, it seems impossible that the season is over. Now, I'm no dummy. I have the internet, and my regular daily blog rounds, so when all reasonable hope was gone, I knew it, and when all mathematical hope was gone, I certainly knew it. So it's not like I didn't know that this was their last game, but I think it's going to take a while for that to really sink in. I've grown so accustomed to the thought that, even though I can't see them, the Sabres are still playing hockey, that it's hard for me to comprehend a world in which, even though I can't see them, they are done playing hockey. It's sad to see it phrased this way, but I've gotten so used to being hockey-less that the end of the season doesn't really phase me. Not that it should be some big dramatic event, but other than the content of the blogs I read, nothing in my life is going to change. Just like all last month and more, I still won't be watching hockey.

It's hard to remember at this point, but I'm pretty sure last season was different. The two seasons were superficially pretty similar: they both ended with the Sabres just barely on the outside looking in, and they both contained month-long stretches of me not being able to watch. But somehow, last season, even though I was six whole time zones away, I felt something. Maybe it was just my residual affection and expectations for the 2006-2007 squad ultimately ending to disappointment, or maybe it was just my favorite player having one of the best years of his career and getting nothing to show for it from his team, but there was definitely a feeling of loss and lament. This time around, I got the text message telling me the Sabres had won their final and meaningless game 6-1 and all I could do was stare at it blankly, wondering what it could possibly mean. 

Only one bit of information in the text solicited any kind of response in me: Thomas Vanek made it to 40 goals. Initially, I took this as a very small victory in a mostly painfully unremarkable season. Last season, even though it saw Sabres hockey and Sabres fans come crashing back to earth, there were still a number of positives to take away. I think back to my upgrade/downgrade ratings of last spring, and how I gushed about Pominville, Hecht and Spacek, and it seems all so foreign. Now, either I've grown bitter or the team has grown insufferable, but either way, I'm sure if (maybe when?) I replicate that exercise for this season there won't be half as many upgrade labels. And as I pondered the text message further, even Thomas Vanek, who was one of the brightest spots from the very beginning of the season, getting 40 goals isn't that great. Sure, he probably would have made more if he hadn't been injured, but as it stands that's only four more than his total last year, when he was downright brutal until the All-Star Game. Not meaning that I'm at all unhappy with his performance this season (hell, I didn't even see half of it), but I think it really puts this season into perspective that these are the types of positives that we have to hang on to.

By the way, as I'm typing this, it's 11:53 PM, so I totally made my resolution this week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Waiting By The Phone

I got a call from the Minnesota Wild today.

Well, to be more specific, I got a prerecorded message from Wild owner Craig Leipold and Wild left winger (and certified cutie) Andrew Brunette, thanking me for being such a loyal fan, such a dedicated member of the Team of 18,000, and for making Xcel Energy Center the best arena in the NHL.

As you may have guessed from this blog, I am not, in fact, a loyal fan of the Wild. (You may have also guessed from this blog that I'm not a very loyal fan of the Sabres, either, and, well, I guess I can't blame you.) In fact, I'm guessing the only reason the Wild even have my phone number is because I bought tickets earlier this season to cheer their opponents (some guys in blue and gold...? It's been so long, I can't really remember) on to victory, much to the disappointment of their Team of 18,000. But Craig and Andrew didn't seem to care. Even though I'm pretty sure they were ultimately trying to sell me something (there was a mention of some Fan Week activity or another), they were practically falling all over themselves to tell me how great I was. And, even though I don't consider myself a member of their Team of 18,000, I really appreciated the thought.

But it makes me wonder when the call from B. Tom and our very own (newly) certified cutie left winger, Thomas Vanek, is coming. Surely they know what a loyal and dedicated fan I am, even if I haven't bought a ticket to HSBC this season, right?

(By the way, it's come to my attention that the Sabres are playing the Caps tonight. I had been waiting for this matchup for a long time, planning to finally let loose with the reasons I can't stand Alex Ovechkin, but it's been a long week, and I really don't have the spare energy neccessary to get my blood boiling. Once again, however, I find myself blessed with a Friday night free from rehearsal, so maybe watching the game will be enough to reinvigorate my loathing. If not, I'm sure my Caps-fan friend will be able to get the job done with some good old-fashioned trashtalk. In the meantime, rest assured that I have reasons, and that they are good ones.)