Saturday, July 28, 2007

O, Captain, My Captain: Why I Love Hockey Part 16

A few new people have been stumbling across my little blog so I thought I'd give a brief explanation about the series of Why I Love Hockey posts. I was dumb enough to start a Sabres blog right before the playoffs began which left me with a few weeks of actual hockey to write about before the seemingly never-ending off-season began. It turns out that between the Drury and Briere departures, the resulting meltdown of Buffalo fans and media, and the Vanek offer sheet among other things, there have been a fair amount of things to comment on. But before I knew all that was going to happen, I decided to pass the summer months by writing a series of posts about why I love hockey. Okay, I actually decided to steal the idea from Interchangeable Parts. But hey, it was a good idea. I try to make it a practice to only steal from the best.

This blog entry was inspired by my adorable husband Marky Mark. He's gone from, "You have a blog?! Since when?!" to "Hey, you should right about this" in no time flat. (Yes, that's right. Until a few days ago my own husband had no idea I was writing a Sabres blog.) He said that the captaincy is one of his favorite things about hockey and what do you know, it's one of mine too. So here we go:

Why I Love Hockey #16 - The Captaincy
Hockey is the only sport where every team has a designated leader. Oh, sure teams in other sports most likely have certain guys who head up the lockerroom and in some cases, there's no doubt who the main man is, but we don't really see them the way we see hockey captains. The letters stitched on the front of their jerseys - one C and two A's - put them out there. When things are going well, they get a lot of credit but when things aren't going well, whew boy, they have to deal with a lot of garbage. They answer to the fans and the media. They get the brunt of the criticism. They're expected to raise their games during the most important times of the season. They're expected to hold up under any pressure, to refuse to break even when the going gets tough and most importantly, to inspire their teammates to play the same way. Great hockey captains are truly the emotional heartbeat of their team.

I love how there's no one perfect captain personality. Some captains are loud, in your face vocal leaders, publicly calling out their team and guaranteeing big wins. Some captains look uncomfortable when they have to speak publicly and do it as little as possible, preferring instead to lead by example. Some captains are higly skilled players, one of the team's best. Some captains are grinders who've kept themselves in the league with determination and heart more than goals and assists.

I love how much hockey players value wearing those letters. When Daniel Briere and Chris Drury were out for games this past season, some of the younger players got to wear A's. Maxim Afinogenov is not an overly smiley, emotive guy off the ice, but when the postgame guys asked him how it felt to be wearing the A that night, he answered them with obvious pride. He knew it was an honor and and he was excited that Lindy Ruff and the coaching staff felt like he'd earned it even for that one night. Hockey is full of great captains, Stevie Y being the example that leaps to my mind first. Every player in the NHL knows the rich history of the captaincy and understands the challenges and joys of holding that position.

A lot of fans in Buffalo are up in arms right now because the Sabres lost both of their co-captains to free agency, leaving two letters open. Everyone is panicking about who's going to lead the team. It seems that a lot of people have forgotten that Chris Drury - Captain American himself - never wore a letter on his chest until he came to Buffalo. And even though he had won a Stanely Cup in Colorado and even though he already had his reputation for coming through in the clutch, Drury needed a little time to grow into the role of captain, something that he's admitted himself. I loved watching him mature and grow during his time here, I loved watching the team take on a little bit of his personality, and you know, I'll love watching the next guy - Brian Campbell, Paul Gaustad, Adam Mair or whomever - grow into the captaincy too. You never really know where the next great captain is going to come from.

Something About Me
The current top 25 most played songs on Heather B's iPod: Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls (I listened to this a ton during the playoffs and haven't re-set my play count since then), This Woman's Work by Kate Bush, Savin' Me by Nickelback (shut up), Bobcageyon by the Tragically Hip, Must Have Done Something Right by Relient K, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Somebody to Love by Queen (we've been on a huge Queen kick at our house lately), Heaven (Acoustic) by Bryan Adams (shut up again), Wannabe by the Spice Girls (I wouldn't go see them in concert but if their reunion involves a new CD I'll totally check it out), Blackbird by the Beatles, You and Me Together from Oliver and Company (I haven't seen the movie since it was in the theater many, many years ago but I always liked this song for some reason), The Long Way Around by the Dixie Chicks, Beautiful Day by U2 (always atleast one U2 song in the top 25), Love's Gonna Carry Me Home by Pierce Pettis (if you know who he is, bravo!), Wake Up by the Fire Arcade (I've been getting into them a lot lately), Swept Away by Christopher Cross (I have no defense), Electrical Storm by U2, Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles (my favorite Beatles song), The Luckiest by Ben Folds Five (best love song ever), My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, The Lonely End of the Rink by the Tragically Hip, Oh! Darling by the Beatles (man, that's a lot of Beatles), Pachelbel Canon (in D Major) (I like to listen to instrumental stuff for certain things), Thirteen by Big Star, and Street FIghting Man by the Rolling Stones (also listened to in Sabres related fits).


LeeAndrew said...

I have to give you this one, I like the captain thing. The closest thing to a captain that baseball has is the the player rep in the union. Ick! Although I'm surprised the Yankees haven't tattooed CAPTAIN across Derek Jeter's forehead yet. Nice Dead Poet's Society reference too. Last good movie Robin Williams did, or did I mean to say only?

I'm glad you posted your top 25 songs. I'm going to have to check them out because I need some new music. Remember how I told you that my computer crashed and I lost about $100 worth of music? I downloaded it again, it crashed again and I lost it all again. My computer crashed a third time too. I've now learned to immediately put a song on my second drive but so far I've only bought like 3 songs because I'm out of money.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure you've seen this before, but ust in case...

Pachelbel Rant


Meg said...

The closest thing to a captain that baseball has is the the player rep in the union. Ick!

Hockey has that too, but I'll be rather surprised if I see "Andrew Peters, NHLPA Rep" on any Why I Love Hockey lists. :)

Heather, I LOVE This Woman's Work.

Heather B. said...

Lee, that sucks about your computer. Geez! And I'll give Robin Williams The Fisher King and most of Good Morning Vietnam as well. I have an email for you half written so maybe I'll get around to finishing that today.

Dave, I had never seen that but it was very funny. Thanks! (Kate, classical music humor for ya, right here!) And welcome by the way. Please feel free to visit again.

Meg, This Woman's Work is one of those songs I listen to over and over and over when I'm in a certain mood. It's just so heart-breakingly beautiful.

Heather B. said...

Also, if the off-season is much longer, I might just get to "Andrew Peters, NHLPA rep." :-)

Kate said...

Hee. I really want to read, Why I Love Hockey: Andrew Peters, NHLPA rep.

Is it wrong that I have a bit of a soft spot for Andrew Peters?

Gambler said...

I don't think it's wrong, Kate. As enforcers go, Peters is actually quite cuddly-looking, and every time he's mentioned, I can only picture him trying to brush little Roysie's teeth for him. Hee!

Heather, hockey captains rule! Um, but more on that later.

And one of my favorite things to know about people is their Most Listened list on iTunes, so thanks! I totally agree with you about "The Luckiest," such an awesome song. Incidentally I just checked out my own list and there are some really embarrassing things on there. Like the song my sister wrote and recorded about Kotalik. Um... I have no excuse.

KMS2 said...

you should have been around for the HLOG viewing of Mighty Ducks. There are at least 2 Queen songs in the movie and as soon as they came on a bunch of us would instantly write, "QUEEN!!! We need this soundtrack!"

MarkB said...

Since my wife's been begging me to post a response and since this specific topic was my idea, I thought I'd finally chime in!

Heather covered it well, but I also like that when there is a disputed call on the ice, the captains both huddle near the officials. In its most simplest form, that shows the importance of a captain. They are out there for all the world to see, being the team's spokesmen and ready to report back to the team.

The Captaincy is another one of those niche things that are unique to hockey. It sets it apart from the other sports.

Kate said...

Wait. Who's markb? Heather, you need to get this blog password protected. Top Shelf is starting to attract some shady characters.

Hee. Hi Mr. B!

Pookie said...

Well, "Markb", if that really is your name... HI! How does it feel to be married to the best Sabres blogger around?!

Grummels said...

I'm writing a blog about Captains, you can find it here:

Please, let me know what you guys think.