I made it through this much of the off-season in good spirits but I crashed pretty hard this weekend. I was just cranky with pretty much everyone - Darcy for allegedly not making a firm offer to Chris or Danny yet, Chris for allegedly looking toward the west coast after being so important here for so long, fans for complaining about things that haven't actually happened yet and acting like Buffalo's entire worth is wrapped up in whether or not two hockey players are re-signed or not. The only person who really escaped my wrath was Danny because unlike everyone else, he's not holding his cards too close to his chest. He's said from the beginning that he and his family love Buffalo and want to stay here and he hasn't back off that yet.
It's ridiculous because this is, of course, all based on rumor and much of it involving two pretty tight-lipped individuals in Darcy Regier and Chris Drury. I doubt either guy is wandering around town, telling everyone who will listen exactly what he's thinking and feeling. But I just thought something - SOMETHING - would done by now. My husband has two thoughts on the lack of progress. One, the Sabres have decided Thomas Vanek is the priorty and they're waiting to see how much they're going to have to put into him and two, the Sabres have already decided that neither captain is a part of the plan for the future. The first one is possible - I agree that Vanek and Miller should be the nucleus of the team for the next few years. The second one is also possible - it's true that both Chris and Danny are going to be very expensive and I don't know if either guy, Drury in particular is a seven million dollar player. The front office has made no bones about the fact that they don't plan on spending to the cap again and it's probably not smart to pour so much money into two players, especially over the amount of years Danny and Chris allegedly both want. Miller is going to be a UFA in a couple of years and you don't want your hands to be tied financially when that happens. Intellectually, logically it all makes sense.
But... I don't like it! I know sports are a business. I do. But every time I start to think I've finally come to terms with the unlikeliness that I'll ever see one guy play his entire career in Buffalo, I find myself getting sad all over again about someone leaving or even potentially leaving. Being a fan is much harder than it should be sometimes, you know? After such a magical couple of years when the team and the fans seemed to live and breathe together as one, it's tough to switch back into business mode. It's tough to remember that the front office has to think about the long-term as well as the short-term and that sometimes they have to see players as numbers and dollar signs. It's tough to remember that the players really aren't as emotionally attached to us as we are to them. They don't love us in the same way, with the same fervor. We feel like we get to know them as individuals and to them we're really one big nameless, faceless mob of people. It's depressing.
So I spent the weekend in the doldrums. Ridiculous but there it is. Atleast it did lead me to Why I Love Hockey #7 - There's Always Somebody Else
It's true. As hard as it is to watch players go, atleast there are always new ones coming. And sometimes you realize there are other great players on your team already. My first real hockey heartbreak was when Jay McKee left Buffalo last off-season. I was devastated. He was my first favorite hockey player and he'd been a Sabre as long as I'd been a Sabres fan. I was a brand new fan back when he was a baby-faced youngster and we'd grown-up together. I was sure I would never recover. But when I finally bid Jay adieu and looked at the Sabres team in front of me I realized that you know, I'd always enjoyed watching Henrik Tallinder glide up the ice and man, he was so great in the playoffs. He has to be one of the most underrated d-men in the NHL. And just like that I had a new favorite Sabre and I was devoted enough to earn a silly but endearing nickname - Tally-Ho. (Thanks to the commenters over at Interchangeable Parts!) Even my husband, the guy with the mancrushes of all mancrushes on Chris Drury, has started pondering whose jersey he'll buy if Chris leaves. (He started with Miller but seems to be leaning more towards Stafford now.) I suppose some would call this defeatist or pessismistic, maybe even wishy-washy but I prefer to think of it as hopeful. In a world where guys sometimes change jerseys every few years, I need to know that there will always be another favorite Sabre out there for me.