First up, I hear Teppo's surgery went well so yay Teppo! (The guy next to me at practice this morning: "I'm assuming Teppo didn't die on the table since they're still having practice.")
Second of all, I learned via Sabre Rattling that the defensive pairing of Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman is breaking up. Mark and I had noticed that Hank and Toni hadn't worked together at all in the preseason practices/scrimmages we'd attended and people have been talking about the need to do this all off-season. It makes perfect sense. With Teppo out, we're down a reliable d-man and if Lindy keeps Hank and Toni together he's leaving himself some pairings that could be quite adventurous to watch. And I totally agree that allowing Brian Campbell and Jaroslav Spacek to play to their strengths really requires them being paired with a more defensive-minded guy. Soupy can chase the puck to his heart's content and know that Hank, his new partner, is taking care of things at home. I can't argue with this decision at all. But I'm really very sad about the split. Hank and Toni are so steady and dependable. They belong together. They're peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, and every other traditional, comforting pairing you can think of. They're a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold winter night. They belong! I feel like I need Lindy to sit down with me and assure me, "This has nothing to do with you. Hank and Toni still love you and they're still going to be great teammates."
Mark and I blew off work today and went to practice - a tradition we started last season that I fully intend to do for the rest of our lives - and while I will make some hockey oriented comments in a second, I have to get a couple of things of my chest because two things almost ruined my day.
1. PUCK BUNNIES
I decided I was going to sit as closely to the ice as I could today and I ended up in the second row behind a group of college girls. Practice started late and one of them spent the entire time bitching about the very large group of teenagers there - it was some kind of field trip - and while there were a ton of them and they were extremely noisy, they were clearly enjoying themselves and extremely well behaved. She kept complaining that she couldn't "deal with these $@!@$$ people and all their *$&&@@! noise" and went on and on about how they needed to "just go the #$@! home already." Hey, girlie, you're at a hockey rink not a library so unless you rented the place out for you and your party shut up and let everyone else enjoy themselves.
And THEN as the players started trickling in the whole group started taping signs to the glass ("Jason Pominville" with little hearts around it etc.) Are you freakin' kidding me? You have the gall to complain about other people ruining your precious experience and you're going to clutter up the glass with ugly, inane signs?! And they totally knew what they were doing because the girl in front of me turned around and looked right at me while she was taping up her sign to see if I'd say anything which is when I told her (oh-so-politely of course) that this was not going to work for me because I couldn't see through her sign which is when she moved it up even more which is when I reminded her that there were people behind me as well which is when I'm pretty sure the Complainer called me a bitch under her breath. I probably should've complained to security about them just to be a witch but I ended up moving since Hank was on the other bench. Even after I moved though these girls were totally bugging me. All they did through the entire scrimmage was yell things like, "Kaleta, baby, over here!" and "You're hot, Kotalik!" When Derek Roy came on the bench and then did that stretch where the player lifts one leg up on the wall they were all giggling and taking pictures of his butt and yelling comments that made it clear what exactly they were looking at (and I was annoyed with Derek for seeming to enjoy the attention a little too much) and it was just totally gross. Listen, I certainly notice when a player is attractive (and seriously, Kaleta and Kotalik?) but I also know how said player performs on the ice. I'm extremely confident that if I'd asked these girls what they thought about Pominville's potential linemates they wouldn't have understood the question. They were super excited when Lindy Ruff read their signs. Girls, he read your signs and then VISIBLY GRIMACED (which was awesome). You're idiots. I know it and Lindy knows it. You're exactly the reason the NHL feels like it has to cater to its female fans with pink jerseys, "I Heart Crosby" shirts, and crap with butterflies on it.
Kate said during practice on Sunday, "Well, our socks are still cool" so I noticed these abominations right away. They're solid blue except for that strip of white down the back. Why? Why is the only color/design on the BACK OF THE SOCKS? I suppose for the same reason most of the color/design on the jerseys is IN THE ARMPIT AREA. Some of the boys evidently didn't get the memo on how to wear them because they had them on backwards and they looked, if possible, even uglier. People, horizontal stripes! What's so hard about them? I'll give it to Larry Quinn. Last year when he claimed the slug jerseys were designed with Reebok's re-design in mind, I thought he was blowing smoke up our collective ass. But now we totally blend in with the rest of the league's ugly. These are tragic.
I know I promised actual hockey content but I need to get to bed. I'll leave you with a few photos from today:
Hank on the bench right in front of me. He was very smiley and talked a lot more than I expected him to. He and T-Bone were having a grand time.
Timmy gets a lesson on tightening his chinstrap.
Part of the new mural. I'm totally digging the bloodied Adam Mair but I can't believe they used the picture of Timmy with that ridiculous facial hair. Timmy, this is what happens when you do stupid things - they get immortalized on the wall of a pro sports arena.
A little perspective on just how honking big the mural is.
Hockey! The Connolly line looked good again today.
The puck bunnies clearly didn't read the Sabres Squee-View since the three best-looking Sabres were sitting on the other bench, completely ignored. Hank, Jochen, and Goose.
I don't know what happened, but Jochen got traded during the second intermission of today's scrimmage. One minute he was wearing his own number on Team Yellow, the next minute he was wearing Max's number on Team Blue.
At the end of practice a few of the boys stayed and played around for a few minutes. Goose flipped a backhand down the ice to Toni and then told him to flip it back "from there." This went on for a while and they were getting the puck pretty high up in the air. I've never posted a video before so we'll see if this works. It's only a few seconds long and it's not the greatest quality but hey, it's fun. Goose and Derek are on one end (Derek was stretching until they started playing and then he immediately popped up and skated over). I can't remember who was on the other end with Toni. Oh, actually it was Stafford. I think.
It looked like so much fun that even Ryan couldn't help but get in on it. You can't really see the puck traveling but Ryan suddenly jumped up and knocked it right out of the air.
Mark has a couple more pictures at his blog.