Saturday, September 29, 2007

Captain Roy and Why I Love Hockey: The Retirement Edition

Buffalo in July: I can't believe we signed that little punk Roy for so much money! This is gonna be a huge bust! Darcy's an idiot!

Buffalo tonight: D-Roy for Captain!

I love that Lindy rewarded a great performance and effort by giving Derek the C for tonight's game and I loved seeing Derek step up again tonight while wearing it. I do have mixed feelings about him getting the C right now though. On one hand, I think he totally has it in him - he was the captain of the Kitchener Rangers team that won the Memorial Cup in 2003 so this isn't a new thing for him - and he's going to be in Buffalo for the next six years so he has plenty of time to grow into it. But on the other hand, he is still very young and he has shown himself to sometimes be pretty immature on the ice. If he's going to be the Buffalo representative on the ice then he needs to find a way to deal with bad calls or non-calls that doesn't involve rolling his eyes and slamming his stick around. That said, as focused as Derek has seemed both on the ice and off, if someone like Lindy sat down with him and told him that's what they needed to see, I suspect we would see it. I think he wants that letter.

Why I Love Hockey #28 - Jim Lorentz
So Jim Lorentz announced his retirement. I have to be honest, I'm pretty sad about this. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere split? Whatever. We have a lot of young talent left. Jim Lorentz isn't going to be on my TV this season? I can't deal.

When I moved to Buffalo, I had watched very little live hockey. I looked at a game and I saw a swirling mess of guys on skates. It was fun to look at but it made very little sense. That's where Jim Lorentz came in. He was very good at breaking down plays and pointing out the little things that added up to big moments. After almost every goal he would point out what led to the goal - the d-man using his body to knock the forward off the puck, the other d-man swooping in to pick up the loose puck and then making a perfect outlet pass to a streaking wing - and he did it in a plain-spoken way that made it easy for even a newbie like me to understand what he was talking about. I can appreciate defensmen like Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman and defensive forwards like Jochen Hecth because Jim took care to point out the things they were doing to contribute. I know most of what I know about hockey because of Jim.

Where Rick Jeanneret is all bombast and enthusiams, Jim was more even-keeled and always, always honest. If the Sabres were playing like crap, he called them on it. When he said, "That was an absolutel atrocious power play by Buffalo," he echoed what every fan was thinking and feeling. When he applauded someone's effort, the player always deserved it and Jim didn't care if the player was wearing a Buffalo jersey or a Toronto jersey.

I'm very sad about Jim's retirement because no matter how good his replacement might be, it's not going to be the same. There's something very old-fashioned about the way Rick and Jim work. I don't really know how to explain it but I feel it very deeply. If they have something interesting to share about a player, they share it but it never overshadows the game going on in front of them. We don't get long-winded, twisting stories about Andrew Peters' childhood while Maxim Afinogenov is taking the puck end-to-end for a goal. They're not about the flash and the glitter - they're about the game. Rick and Jim's relationship in the booth was very warm and natural. They seemed to know instinctively when the other was going to speak and they never crowded each other out. Some of that was working together for as many years as they did (something unlikely to happen these days), some of it was clearly friendship.

Someone pointed out to me that when you watch most of the games on TV, the broadcast duo really does become a part of the team. That's even more true here in Buffalo where we've had the same duo for so many years. I don't like this whole retirment thing, Jim but I do wish you well. I'm glad I got to be part of your team for so many years.


Gambler said...

Some of that was working together for as many years as they did (something unlikely to happen these days), some of it was clearly friendship.

One of my favorite things about their broadcasts was when they would confer about a call or a goal or something, and they would call each other "partner." Man, I'm really going to miss that.

Mark B said...

Gambler, I'm with you there. One of my first thoughts was that there would be no more "partner". It makes me sad and nostalgic already.

Tom L said...


You are absolutely right about the broadcasters being a part of the team. It took me a while to find the right words but, really, it's the guys in the booth that we spend more time with than anyone else associated wit hthe team we root for.

Changing that is a very big deal. I too, learned a lot from Jim Lorentz and I probably wouldn't be typing these words now or running SR if he hadn't done his job so well over the years.