Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Still Hate the Off-Season - But I Still Love Hockey

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.


Kate said...

Hey!? What about my theory that everyone is just in Mega, Super Top Secret, Need-to-Know Basis, Highly Classified, In-Code, By Cover of Darkness, but very, very serious talks?!

I thought we covered this, Heather!
It's going to be FINE.

*wailing inconsolably* Whaaaaaa! It's gonna beee fi-i-iine!

Okay. I'm going to trust your superior fandom history. You say there is still happy hockey after Chris Drury?

*Deep breath*

Okay. I'll try to believe.

(But don't give up hope! Heather, you and I need to save Buffalo from the weight of its collective angst. We can handle the heartbreak if it comes. These natives, they are damaged from years of broken hearts. We mustn't succumb to the darkside. For the good of the city, we must stay hopeful.)

Schnookie said...

That is such a fantastic point! Seriously, you get so attached to guys, and when they have these huge, looming free agency situations you get tunnel vision about them, but yeah, time wears on and you learn to love someone else. (The worst, though, is the out-of-nowhere trades. I think I'm still shaking a little from the impact of my first such trade, Brian Rolston for Claude Lemieux. That bit.)

Now, as for your husband, I cannot approve of his leaning toward Staffy over Crunchy. I mean, I get not wanting to wear a Crunchy sweater, because it's just so damn obvious (I'd rather die than wear a Brodeur sweater to a Devils game), but still. It's the principle of the thing.

Pookie said...

StaffyNation unite!

Heather B. said...

There, there, Kate. It's all going to be okay. I almost held off on this reason because it did seem pessimistic to post it before anyone was actually gone but it summed up my weekend. If it makes you feel any better, I firmly believe that the Sabres are going to hold on to one of the captains, I firmly believe they'd rather it be Chris, and I firmly believe that pretty much any rumor regarding Chris can be ignored. While I have picked up a little of my husband's "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" attitude, I haven't given up and won't until both guys are officially signed somewhere.

Scnookie, I think Mark could move past the obviousness of a Miller jersey - I mean, he wears a Drury right now, he's not exactly standing out from the crowd - but the puckbunny aspect seems to bother him. I tried to point out that most people probably wouldn't accuse him of being a puckbunny since he doesn't exactly look the type but he just kept mumbling about "shrieking little girls."

Schnookie said...

The puckbunny concern is a very valid one. Pookie and I have only attended one Devils game in Jersey in the last two years, and you should have heard us laughing at all the guys wearing Parise sweaters. Now, the fact that a lot of guys were wearing them should have told us that we were wrong thinking all these months that Zach's is a puckbunny-only sweater. But we refuse to believe it. We were especially merciless laughing at the dude in a Parise UND sweater. (Which should have just spoken to how long that guy had been a fan of Zach's, but instead screamed to us that he was of the most pathetic variety of puckbunny.)

All that said, I'd think Crunchy kind of transcends that a little, doesn't he? Or is he still very much branded as the screaming girl target?

Kate said...

Okay Heather, I'm going to be cool about this now. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst- it's probably a good policy. It's ridiculous how much energy I have spent fretting about this over the last week. Thank you for your calming reassurances. I just don't want to spend the next couple days all angsty about nothing. If they actually leave, then I'll go through the twelve stages of grief and hopefully move on a stronger woman for it, until then, I'm assuming my bland, bland hockey husband will be here forever.

Schnookie, you would be surprised to observe how Crunchy is considered a genuine heartthrob in these parts. With no sense of irony, Crunchy is just straight up, puckbunny fodder. Of course, I'm totally hot for Crunchy, but with me it's different. I think those puckbunnies just think he's hot or something, which makes no sense, because, I'm sorry, Crunchy is really not hot. Except that he totally is.

Heather B. said...

All that said, I'd think Crunchy kind of transcends that a little, doesn't he? Or is he still very much branded as the screaming girl target?

I think he made huge strides towards moving past the puckbunny thing this year, particularly from the point Marty got traded on and especially in the postseason. He fully answered questions about him being the starter and really stepped up as a leader. That said, I imagine there will continue to be preteens screeching the second he steps on the ice so I dunno, we'll see. I think he'l move past being JUST a puckbunny target but I suspect that will always be around atleast until he gets fat (as if) and ugly (uglier?).

Schnookie said...

Of course, I'm totally hot for Crunchy, but with me it's different.

Well yes, me too, obviously! I mean, we shriek for him too, but only on the inside. We're too busy making a big show of laughing at the squealing girls to shriek externally!

And yes, Heather, I'm not sure it's possible for Crunchy to end up fat and uglier. Because he is clearly incapable of being fat, and dude is already every which kind of ugly, so the squealing is clearly based on some strange essence of hot that he exudes...

Kate said...

...he is clearly incapable of being fat

I can't see Crunchy ever getting fat, but I bet after his playing career is over he turns into a doughy skinny guy with zero muscle tone and a funny little pot belly. That's when his photography career will start to take off...

Gambler said...

Heather, this was exactly what I needed to hear (read?) right now. Like basically everyone else in Buffalo I've been stressing out and losing sleep over this whole free agency deal, and it's nice to have it put into perspective. Unless the Sabres trade away half the team there will be someone for me to love and cheer for next season. (Still, if Hecht is lisping in another city next year, I'll cry conspiracy.) And honestly, as much as I would want Drury to be the one to stay, if it ends up being Briere, I'll still be happy. I love Danny, and the fact that he's been saying right from the end of the season that he wants to stay in Buffalo and possibly end his career here is pretty damn awesome! It's hard not to love a guy who appreciates the under-appreciated.

That Jay McKee picture is absolutely adorable!

As far as Crunchy's puckbunny-fodder status goes, it's definitely there. No one knows why, but it is. Personally, I just don't feel it. I love him, but for entirely professional, hockey-related reasons. My sister, on the other hand, is in love with him (in a very Schnookie-like way), which I like to constantly rib her for (in a very Pookie-like way). The emaciated, long flowing locks, crooked-face look is, for some reason, her personal definition of attractiveness, and was long before he even arrived on the scene. So she knows he's ugly, but I guess he's her kind of ugly. As for the girls who seem to think he's genuinely good-looking... it's a mystery.